Beth Pascall wears the Team Great Britain jersey for the third time in competing at the 2018 Trail World Championships. In our first interview with Beth, learn about her background in trail and ultrarunning, her work as a physician, how she’ll strategically approach the race course, and how she thinks the women’s team competition might play out.
Beth Pascall Pre-2018 Trail World Championships Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m with Beth Pascall. It’s the day before the 2018 Trail World Championships. You’re competing for Team Great Britain. Good morning.
Beth Pascall: Hi, Meghan. It’s good to be here. It’s good to be chatting to you.
iRunFar: Thanks for the interview. This is our first time interviewing you though I’ve seen you race a couple of times. Before we talk about running, can you talk about what you do? I think you might be a doctor?
Pascall: Yeah, I’m a junior doctor. I work in pediatrics. It’s kind of equivalent to your residency, but in the U.K. you’re a junior doctor for 10 years minimum. So I’m on that long slog basically. I’m still doing six-month jobs rotating around specialties within pediatrics.
iRunFar: But you do spend your days with kids?
Pascall: Babies at the moment—very small babies.
iRunFar: Lots of patience you are bestowed with?
Pascall: I’ve got lots of patience? Some… not always… If I’m impatient, it’s less with the patients and more with the system which most people have heard of at the moment—the status of the NHS in the U.K. and the morale amongst the junior doctors, but… yeah, it’s good. Most of the time it’s alright. I can’t complain too much.
iRunFar: We were just talking off the camera before the interview, you live in the southern Peaks District?
Pascall: Yes, so the Midlands, the middle of the U.K. basically. I’ve got the Peaks which are reasonably close and some small hills to train on. I spend a lot of time driving to the bigger hills to be honest. It’s three hours to the Lake District or three hours to Snowdonia in North Wales and maybe five or six to Scotland, so I train on bigger hills quite often as well. There’s a lot of driving involved.
iRunFar: Go away for a training weekend here and there?
Pascall: Yeah, every weekend during the summer.
iRunFar: All the time.
iRunFar: You’ve competed for Team Great Britain at the Trail World Championships before. Have you competed on other national teams?
Pascall: That’s a loaded question. I did the 24-hour last year.
iRunFar: I thought I’d remembered seeing your name on the list. That’s why I said that.
Pascall: Loaded question was the wrong way of putting it—you knew the answer. I didn’t do the Trail World Championships last year. It was the same day as my sister’s wedding, so I did the 24-hour instead. I’d only run one 24-hour before, and the second one is harder. I didn’t have a very good race, so we don’t have to talk about that anymore.
iRunFar: You knew what you were in for, and…
Pascall: Yeah. Psychologically it’s so tough. I have a lot of respect for the guys that can do that over and over again. Yeah, super tough, but I’m happy to be back doing the trail again.
iRunFar: Two years ago, is that right, you were in Portugal for the Trail World Championships?
Pascall: Yeah, two years ago.
iRunFar: You had a good race there—top 10?
Pascall: Yeah, it was my first sort of big international race, and I had no idea how it was going to unfold. I was pretty happy with top 10.
iRunFar: That was not an easy course. That was up and down the hills of Portugal, not dissimilar in climate to what you’re going to experience tomorrow. Maybe similar desert, dry terrain also? Have you thought at all about the style of this course being comparable to where you had a great race a couple years ago?
Pascall: Yeah, there are a lot of similarities. I think the style is quite different actually even though the terrain is kind of similar in a lot of ways. The way this course is, it actually gets exponentially harder as the race goes on. That’s quite different. The first half is very fast by comparison, and after that it gets harder and harder. Normally at the end of the race, you’re treated by a long descent, but we just don’t have that at all. Tactically, I think you have to have a very different approach to this one compared to being back in Portugal or most other long trail races. It’s going to be pretty interesting.
iRunFar: I think I’m hearing your preference for downhill running as opposed to uphill slogging?
Pascall: I was saying I’d like to run this course in reverse, but my uphill running is something I’ve been working on.
iRunFar: “If you could just turn it around, that would be great.”
Pascall: Maybe next year. Yeah, I’ve been working on my uphill running. There’s a fair amount of kind of tech-y downhill which will suit me.
iRunFar: Team Great Britain brings pretty strong men’s and women’s teams this year. Have you guys had some team talk about goals or working together or working against each other?
Pascall: Not against each other. It’s difficult to work together in a race like this. Naturally there might be a few of us that are running together at different points. There are a few of us that could be similar speeds, but we haven’t thought about working together as such. Aspirations-wise, a medal would be great for the team, and I think that’s certainly realistic. That bronze medal, I think, is up for grabs. There are a few teams that are in contention. The men, as well, could easily get a medal.
iRunFar: All the teams bring helpers to help out at aid stations and such. Have there been talks between runners and helpers that they need to count up people and add up time and help us find out what position we’re in at the aid stations?
Pascall: Team-wise? Hmmm, I don’t know about that. Our team manager is into that sort of thing, so I’m sure he’ll be there doing the maths, but at the end of the day, you’re going to run all out. Whether someone tells you that you need to pick up two more places to earn a medal… you’re going to be doing your best anyway. I think in this sort of a thing, that makes less of a difference during the actual race perhaps.
iRunFar: The idea of running all out—meting out your energy—is a difficult thing in an ultra anyway because they just go on all day sometimes, but in a race like this that has so much more net climbing in the race’s second half than the first, how have you thought out how you’re going to share your energy with different parts of the race to know you’ve got enough left for all the climbing at the end?
Pascall: I guess just keep it chill to Atzaneta which is around 40k.
iRunFar: The halfway point.
Pascall: Yeah, just under—almost halfway distance-wise, but not halfway time-wise.
Pascall: Yeah, keep it really chill up to that point, and then you’ve got 28 miles left and what could go wrong in 28 miles? Ha! Hopefully I’ll be trying to pick up the pace, not the pace but the intensity, a bit after that and see what happens.
iRunFar: Have you had anybody from Team GB out on the course to take pictures and bring reports back?
Pascall: Most of us have been out actually. A group of us went out together two or three weeks ago and ran all the course. Another group went out after that. Sarah [Morwood] has been out a couple times as well. Most of us have run the entirety of the course.
iRunFar: What do you think?
Pascall: I love it. It’s a really cool place. I really like the trails. They’re quite fun. There are some technical bits. There’s a little bit of everything really. It’s nice that it’s kind of dry. Dry rock is our friend. It’s a nice change from the U.K.
iRunFar: There is a bit of a forecast for rain, but there’s no soaking rain on the day.
Pascall: Yeah, but it’s kind of sandy, isn’t it? It rained when we were before. It rains and an hour later it’s gone. It’s just sunk into the ground.
iRunFar: Rather than a deep, pooling mud.
Pascall: Not like the U.K. anyway. I’m not too afraid if it rains a lot. It will be nice—keep it cool.
iRunFar: Best of luck to you, and thanks for the interview.
Pascall: Thank you. No worries. Thank you.
iRunFar: See you out there.
Pascall: Yeah. Cool.