Stephanie Howe Violett is back again to the 2017 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships. Rewind a year ago, and Stephanie finished ninth at TNF 50 following a lengthy injury and rehabilitation, and this year she’ll start the race after a healthy year of running and racing. In this interview, Stephanie talks about her 2017 racing season, her fall in Nepal, and how she feels going into this weekend’s race.
Stephanie Violett Pre-2017 The North Face 50 Mile Championships Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here with co-host, Hillary Allen, and this morning we’re interviewing Stephanie Violett before the 2017 TNF 50 Mile. It’s the end of the year!
Stephanie Violett: I know!
iRunFar: Except it’s not December this year.
Violett: It feels like it though.
iRunFar: Does it?
iRunFar: How’s it going?
Violett: It’s pretty good. I’ve had quite an interesting, awesome, crazy fall.
iRunFar: You’ve had an interesting, awesome, crazy 2017, let’s be honest.
Violett: I have. It’s been all those words.
iRunFar: I want to start with you a year ago here and you on the finish line. It was pretty beautiful at least as an observer to watch you cross the finish line and bust open emotionally.
Violett: Yeah, it was a very emotional race for me. Yeah, after a year of not running and then being able to run 50 miles, it was amazing to have that.
Hillary Allen: It was inspiring to watch. Everyone had their high hopes and you ended up doing really well considering everything that happened that year.
Violett: I think it was for me more to be back racing again and knowing my body could do this again. After a year, you’re kind of not sure what’s going to happen.
iRunFar: Running-wise you’ve done some interesting things in 2017. You started the year down in Texas at Bandera, and you won the race overall.
Violett: Yeah, I just nailed that one. That was a good confidence booster.
iRunFar: And then…
Violett: I don’t know what happened then. Then I had slower spring and got into Western States and kind of had a rough day there. I really feel like I bombed that one but proud to finish.
iRunFar: Bombing is so… you were still 12th. You didn’t bomb.
Violett: I guess it could have been so much worse. So many things went wrong for me in that race that it was really frustrating. Yeah, I’m glad I finished, but it was a tough day for sure physically and mentally. I licked my wounds and went over to Chamonix and kind of had a rough day there, too. I think a lot of it in Chamonix was I just had a bad day and bad luck. I felt fit. I don’t know. Those things happen. I suffered it out.
Allen: I remember meeting up with you in Chamonix, and it seemed like you had such a good attitude about it. You were super excited to be there and on the start line. It seems like one of those things that happen in a 100 mile race.
Violett: Yeah, you never know. It’s so long. So much can go wrong. I had a great time in Chamonix. It was so great. Every day was awesome. You can’t be too bummed about that.
iRunFar: “I had a great vacation!”
Allen: The jazz in the park—that was a good part.
iRunFar: It’s the mystery of running 100 miles. The equation changes from the start of the race to the middle of the race to the end of the race. Every 100 miler is different, and the equation is just so hard to get right.
Violett: It is. Even when you’ve gone through and had a couple rough ones and you think you’ve got it and know what to do, then something new happens. Wow, I’ve never had this happen to me before! That’s part of the draw to that distance for me is there is so much of that troubleshooting and problem-solving, and you never know.
iRunFar: Then your fall—you’ve had a really interesting fall and not in this country for most of the time.
Violett: I know. I was just talking to one of my friends back in Bend, and we hadn’t seen each other since July. We’ve been gone. My poor dog—Who are my people right now? Yeah, after Chamonix, we were home for a week, and we actually moved houses in that week. It was a crazy time. Then we went to Nepal for five weeks. It was so amazing.
iRunFar: Trekking? Running?
Violett: Trekking. I actually was not there to run. I did run twice. One of them was a race.
Allen: Oh, yeah, I saw that.
Violett: So we’re trekking, and we see this sign coming into this village. It’s like, “65k Ultramarathon tomorrow!” I was like, “I should do this. Should I do this?” We had planned on having a rest day or an acclimatization day, so I was like, “I don’t know. I’m just going to do it.” It as amazing. I say, “I ran twice,” but it was so high that it wasn’t exactly running.
iRunFar: You might be doing the running motion, but…
Violett: Yeah, a lot of like walking just moving very slowly.
Allen: But it feels like you’re moving fast.
Violett: Yeah, Nepal was a trekking trip, but it was great. We’d walk for three to five hours per day and then hang out and read. It was really relaxing and really incredible, the mountains there. I’ve seen some really cool mountains, and they just blew them out of the water.
iRunFar: I think you climbed a fairly high mountain?
Violett: We did, and that was also a fairly spontaneous thing. We were making pretty good progress on our trek. We were doing a loop. “There’s this peak we could climb that’s right there—Island Peak. We should just do it.” So we did. We rented all this gear, and we got a guide. I have a picture. I have five jackets on and this big red jacket that I rented. I look like Santa Claus. We climbed the peak. It was incredible. It was out of my comfort zone for sure. We started at midnight. It was crampons and ice axes. We got to cross a crevasse on a ladder. I’ve never done anything like that.
iRunFar: Does that compel you to maybe do things like that again, or did it scare you?
Violett: It scared me a little but in a good way. I’m definitely intrigued. I got pretty cold. I’d need to figure out how to keep my hands warmer. I’m definitely into it.
Allen: Coming back to the States then, how long have you been back from Nepal?
Violett: This weekend will be four weeks. I got sick on my way back… another first. Thankfully it didn’t happen on the trip. It was on the way back. I spent 15 hours in the bathroom just rotating… coming out both ends. It was awful. They wouldn’t let me get on the last flight. I had to go to the ER in Denver and get fluids. So, the first week back in the U.S. wasn’t very nice. I spent it in bed. I feel like I’ve really been back for three weeks.
Allen: With that being said, last-minute entry into the race—not really last minute because you were probably planning to come out for it with The North Face—but are you excited about it?
Violett: In my mind, this is a bonus race. I’m healthy enough. I’ve made it through my season. Going back to what we first started with, this is kind of closure for me for 2017. This is where I started last year. I want to finish with this race. In terms of how I feel about it, two or three weeks of preparation is not necessarily ideal.
iRunFar: You’ll be fresh.
Violett: I’m fresh. Yeah, I had the whole year. It’s not like I just trained for three weeks, but there are people who have been focusing on this race. For me, it’s a bonus. I’m going to do my best but also it’s a celebration of a year of running without injury. I’m so thrilled my body is healthy.
iRunFar: Best of luck to you out there. If there are tears of excitement on the finish line, I’ll be ready and waiting for those.
Violett: Thank you. I think there probably will be. Thank you.