After finishing fifth last year, Clare Gallagher pushed hard to take second at the 2017 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships. In the following interview, Clare talks about running the early miles with other women before making a deal with herself at mile 16 to commit to working as hard as she could, what she thought of the finish across the Golden Gate Bridge, what her off-season will look like this year, and her 2018 goals.
For more on the race, check out our in-depth results article.
Clare Gallagher Post-2017 The North Face 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Clare Gallagher after her second place at the 2017 TNF 50 Mile. How are you doing?
Clare Gallagher: I’m great. Thanks for talking to me!
iRunFar: You had a good race out there.
Gallagher: I’m psyched. I’m super psyched.
iRunFar: It wasn’t easy for you.
Gallagher: No, as I was saying, at mile 16, I looked down at my watch and was like, Okay, I have the choice to commit now or not. And I decided I was going to commit. I was on the pain train from 16 on. It was like, every time I wasn’t in pain, I was like, I need to speed up. It was one of those. I knew I had it in me, but it was not easy. Every…
iRunFar: Do you have some that do come easy?
Gallagher: I think some are more comfortable.
Gallagher: CCC, I actually enjoyed the hiking more. This was so runnable and so fast. Everything… you have to be running fast. You have to be turning over on every slightly flat or obviously any downhill. Downhills were just like, “ARRRRGHGHGHGHGH.” I was audibly… I made a lot of guy friends.
iRunFar: Finishing second you don’t make a lot of girl friends. How did the actual race shape up for you?
Gallagher: I started pretty conservative—or at least I felt like I was conservative. I was running with Megan Roche for a lot of the first 10 miles.
iRunFar: Sort of in the middle of the top 10?
Gallagher: We were actually fourth and fifth. It was just Ida [Nilsson], Renee [Metivier], and Anne-Elise Rousset ahead of us. Then Megan Kimmel caught up to us right after Tennessee Valley. I ran with Kimmel then for a little bit until 16. Then it was like at 16, I was like, “ARRRGHGHGH,” and I never looked back.
iRunFar: That’s when you decided to go… or not to go but to commit? This is going to hurt.
Gallagher: Yeah, and eating gels was not fun, but I’d just kind of shove them down. Yeah, it was one of those days. I definitely… I’m going to be feeling it tomorrow.
iRunFar: Is this the end of your season?
Gallagher: Thank goodness it’s the end of my season.
iRunFar: Taking a break?
Gallagher: Because I raced Black Canyon in February, so it’s the longest season ever.
iRunFar: And 90-some miles of Western States and CCC and this and…
Gallagher: Yeah, I’m really grateful for the year. I almost got emotional running across the Golden Gate Bridge–which was awesome, by the way–arguably my favorite part of the course.
iRunFar: Really? Were there lots of tourists on the bridge?
Gallagher: There were lots, but it was fine. I pivoted off a 50k male runner who was cruising.
iRunFar: He was your blocker, and you just followed him?
Gallagher: Yeah, you could run. I like running on roads and flat, so I just embraced it.
iRunFar: Views are pretty good from up there?
iRunFar: Your season has just wrapped up. Anything on the horizon for next year?
Gallagher: I’m just so grateful to be heathy and have a full year of legitimate health minus the fluke at States.
iRunFar: Collegiately, you had…?
Gallagher: I was always injured in college. It was so crappy. It was hilarious, actually, three of my Princeton teammates were running the 50k—girls who were All-American shredders. It’s just really funny.
iRunFar: Did they get right into it, or did they follow you in?
Gallagher: One is an elite marathoner, and she fell 16 times in the 50k. I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve been that influential. If you love to run, you’re going to run. I think I’ll do a race in Italy in the end of March. It’s called Cinque Terre… how do you say it?
iRunFar: Stop by Lavaredo and Cortina?
Gallagher: Yeah. Then I think UTMB is kind of on my list.
iRunFar: Might want to go give that a shot?
iRunFar: You had success at CCC which is a good gateway to UTMB.
Gallagher: Yeah, a nice gateway drug.
iRunFar: For you, what does an off-season look like? Do you take a couple weeks completely off?
Gallagher: I’m actually going to Thailand in a week or five days. I lived there for almost two years.
iRunFar: That’s where you started ultrarunning.
Gallagher: Exactly. I’m going to help this swim program I started with a girlfriend. It’s called Earth Raging with English, so we teach kids how to swim.
iRunFar: And… English?
Gallagher: Yeah, well that’s the idea because we’re English teachers. So that will be my off season. I’m going to go scout a project in the Philippines to run across an island to document sea-level rise. Then I’ll ski. I’ll ski a lot.
iRunFar: So, stay fit but not stick solo with running.
iRunFar: When you’re skiing, will you mix some running into your weeks?
Gallagher: Yeah. I’ll probably be running a lot or again by mid to late December.
iRunFar: Congratulations on your race here and enjoy your off season.
Gallagher: Thank you. Thanks, Bryon!