A lot of last year’s top women’s finishers return to the 2019 UTMB, the United Kingdom’s Beth Pascall included. In this interview, Beth talks about her year of racing since taking fourth here in 2018, why she keeps returning to UTMB, her couple weeks of tapering and vacationing pre-race, and how this year’s race could go differently than previous years due to a different weather forecast.
Beth Pascall Pre-2019 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Beth Pascall and it’s a couple days before the 2019 UTMB. Now, I can’t say “Welcome” to you because you’ve been here for a while. I just got here. You’re back at UTMB for the third year in a row.
Beth Pascall: Yeah, I can’t stay away.
iRunFar: What brings you back? You had a great race here last year, finishing fourth. You must want more?
Pascall: Yeah, sure [laughs]. I had a great run last year, but maybe coming back with a bit more experience, my hope is to perhaps break fourth place.
iRunFar: Okay, she just put it out there: She wants to finish on the podium this year.
Pascall: Yeah, I think a lot of people have that plan as well, so we’ll see how that goes.
iRunFar: Yes. Now, I want to backtrack a little bit. Prior to the last year, you were also here in 2017, but you didn’t make it to the finish line of the race. Now that you have the hindsight and experience of one really good year and one not-really-good year, what kind of hindsight or vision do you apply to this race?
Pascall: When my race went wrong in 2017, that was weather-related. I mean, it was kind of stupid, being British, but I gold cold and dropped out with hypothermia. Last year, I was prepared for the miserable weather. I was sensible and wore a lot of warm kit.
iRunFar: You had the proper British clothing that time.
Pascall: Yeah, I think I was the only person on the start line with full leggings and a waterproof [jacket] and everything. I wasn’t going to get cold.
iRunFar:You were going to get hot, not cold, last year. In the year since the last UTMB, you had a great season. You came to America, spent some time there and then took home a fourth-place at Western States. That’s cool.
Pascall: Yeah, I mean, I loved it. I didn’t know how it was going to suit me. I thought it was going to be too fast and runnable for me, but, yeah, I trained for it and it worked out okay. I thought maybe doing Western States and then having just two months until this [UTMB], that the build-up might feel a bit rushed, but it’s actually been okay, to be honest. I managed to get a few big mountain days in. I think I’m okay.
iRunFar: What you’re saying is that your recovery from Western States went smoothly enough that you could put in a block of training in mountains.
Pascall: My training completely changed before Western States, because I’m not very fast at running.
iRunFar: That’s all relative, Beth.
Pascall: I wasn’t doing any hills, really. I was just kind of learning how to run faster on the flats. I wasn’t doing any mountains. So, yeah, it’s kind of completely different training for this. I’ve been spending long days in the hills.
iRunFar: You’re sporting a proper summer tan and you’re British, so that means you mustn’t have been in your own country.
Pascall: I think I was at home for five weeks in between the two, so it’s been a pretty good summer for holidays. I’ve been out here for a couple weeks now, chilling on holidays in a van with a dog.
iRunFar: “Dirtbagging” it?
Pascall: Dirtbagging it, yeah.
iRunFar: Though you look very good for a “dirtbagger.”
Pascall: The first ten days or so were pretty smelly, but I did have a shower three days ago, so I’m not as bad as I could be.
iRunFar: Well, you’re looking good and smelling good [laughs]. So, you’ve been for a couple weeks in the mountains of the Alps. Are you a person who trains on the course? Are you a person who just goes out and plays? Do you seek things that are similar but different? How have you been training?
Pascall: I haven’t been… ah yes, there was another trip that I just remembered.
iRunFar: “Oh, actually I’ve had a third vacation actually, hang on!”
I was out here three weeks ago for a Salomon women’s camp where we did a lap, so that was on the course. This time, the last couple of weeks, I feel like I almost know it too well–I know every stone, I know every bend in the trail. So, I have not been on the course this time around.
iRunFar: Have you been going out to see new things, or doing like very specific training day-to-day? What’s it looked like since you’ve been out here?
Pascall: Well, most of the training was done, to be honest. I had one long day, which was actually on the course for the Ultra-Trail de Monte Rosa with some friends who are doing that race. But that’s it, really. Mainly just been chilling and doing easy runs. It’s kind of hard being in the mountains and not just running up everything, but I’ve kind of gotten used to it now. It’s mainly been really, really chilled which is, I think, what you need as much as anything is just to relax before the race. If you come straight from work, especially for me, if I come straight from work to do a race, I’ll be exhausted. So, yeah, it’s been nice just to chill out.
iRunFar: So, let’s look toward Friday and Saturday a little bit. It’s Tuesday, but the weather forecast was kind of all over the place for a couple days there and now it’s settling into, “Hmm, could this possibly be a warm and not-rainy year?”
Pascall: It could even be warmer than Western States, actually.
iRunFar: There would be some irony there.
Pascall: Yeah, it looks like it’s going to be super hot. Yeah, I’ll have to think about that. I’ll have to have a think about kit choices. Maybe we’ll need to do a whole ice thing like we do at Western States.
iRunFar: Bring out the bandanas and the ice in the sports bras. Actually, I don’t know if they have ice at the aid stations.
Pascall: Maybe we could source some. It’s something to think about, maybe. I don’t know.
iRunFar: You know there’s like three bags of ice in the entirety of Europe, so you’ll have to start going hunting right now. Ice is not as prevalent here.
Pascall: Maybe I should be stocking up right now.
iRunFar: Yeah, before this interview goes live, I’ll give you like a two-hour head start to go shopping.
Pascall: I have nowhere to store it, to be fair.
iRunFar: That’s true. Dilemma. So, it’s going to be a year maybe like we haven’t seen at UTMB in a couple of years, and that we’ve only rarely seen here. You already strike me as a really patient racer, but does that weather forecast change how you approach the weekend?
Pascall: Maybe. I’ll just have to see how I feel. When you’re high, it’s not going to feel as hot. I’ll just see how I’ll feel. I think I know when the heat is quite oppressive, and if it’s going to wear me out, I’ll back off if that happens. But actually, when it’s getting hot, it’ll be toward the latter stages of the race, from like midday onwards on Saturday and that’s going to be when you’re actually going to want to be starting to push, so I don’t know. I’ll just see how I feel and play it by ear.
iRunFar: Cool. Well, best of luck to you out there.
Pascall: Cool, thank you.
iRunFar: We look forward to chasing you around on Saturday.
Pascall: Awesome, thanks.