If she’s recovered from the injury that knocked her out of the Western States 100 in June, Courtney Dauwalter has to be considered one of the favorites for the 2019 UTMB. In the following interview, Courtney talks about her injury and recovery, what made her decide to run UTMB this year, and her first impressions from her first visit to the European Alps.
Courtney Dauwalter Pre-2019 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Courtney Dauwalter. It’s a couple days before the 2019 UTMB. We’re in Chamonix!
Courtney Dauwalter: It’s so cool. This is my first time here.
iRunFar: Yeah, what made you want to run UTMB?
Dauwalter: Oh, I mean why not?
iRunFar: Why not? It’s just 100 miles around a giant mountain.
Dauwalter: It’s amazing here. We’ve been here 24 hours and I’m so excited to explore the trails. It’ll be my first time on all the trails, so I think it will be cool to have that be during a race. Everything’s a surprise.
iRunFar: So, Chamonix and UTMB are things that a lot of American trail and ultrarunners hear about. You had probably created a vision for this place and experience in your head. Is it living up to your expectations? What’s in your head about what this week is going to consist of?
Dauwalter: Yeah, so far it’s living up to expectations. The cheese, the pastries, the wine. It’s perfect.
iRunFar: How about the running and the trails?
Dauwalter: [Laughs] Oh, right. Well, I haven’t seen them yet, but I’m sure they’re amazing.
iRunFar: And Mont-Blanc is truly “White Mountain.”
Dauwalter: Yeah, it’s so cool.
iRunFar: It’s so amazing to roll up on it for the first time, isn’t it?
Dauwalter: Yeah, and it’s right there [gestures in the background].
iRunFar: It is. These gigantic glaciers spilling across and snow fields up at the top. Now, let’s backtrack a little bit. The last time we saw you running, you were limping around at Green Gate during the Western States Endurance Run. You were covered in white tape, you had a giant smile on your face, but your body just wasn’t working for you anymore. What happened?
Dauwalter: Everything was going great until Cal One, which was about 67 miles. We stopped to fill up water and just that stopping, I guess, triggered that whole event because then my hip stopped working. It was giving out, it was buckling every time I tried to run on it. It was shooting pains, which I’ve never experienced before. I tried to fix it for a while, and then just ended up walking every step from Cal Two to Green Gate. Then I decided to pull the plug, just in case it was something we would make work just by walking it in.
iRunFar: As it turns out, it ended up being a soft tissue-type issue.
Dauwalter: Yeah, thankfully it was soft tissue. I’ve been rehabbing it. I’ve got a great team in Golden, Colorado, that’s been helping me figure out what it was and then build back up slowly so we don’t overdo it right away.
iRunFar: As you stand at the starting line of a 24-hour mountain race [laughs].
Dauwalter: Luckily, of the team I was working with, one guy was a hip guy and one guy was an ultrarunner. So, by combining their expertise and experience and all of those pieces – it was the perfect combination.
iRunFar: You were saying just a moment ago off-camera that you have had some good training time leading up to this race.
Dauwalter: Yeah, just the last couple weeks we started rolling. We’ll see how that translates to 100 miles in the Alps.
iRunFar: When did you officially put yourself on the UTMB entrants’ list?
Dauwalter: [Laughs] Like a month ago, maybe?
iRunFar: Was it when Hardrock went off the schedule, UTMB went on?
Dauwalter: Yeah, kind of. The whole summer – my initial idea of what I’d be doing this summer evolved a lot. Different races in Colorado being cancelled, Western getting thrown in the mix and then an injury. Yeah, we’re staying on our toes.
iRunFar: You’re keeping it interesting. The women’s race here at UTMB is amazing. There’s multiple past champions of UTMB, past champions of the CCC and the TDS, and then people like you who are incredibly successful at pretty much every event so far, except you haven’t been at this one.
Dauwalter: That’s correct. The women’s field is amazing. I’m very excited to have this opportunity, and to be in a place where I can line up on Friday and see what happens.
iRunFar: It’s a long journey around a mountain. But there are so many unique things about it. It’s an evening start, so you get a couple of hours of daylight before you run all night, and then a whole other day out. This year’s weather forecast is supposed to be hot. Beth Pascall said last night, “Oh, I think the weather forecast is actually hotter than Western States this past year.”
Dauwalter: Really? What else? Tell me more.
iRunFar: There’s just so many interesting variables for this race this year.
Dauwalter: Yeah, and 100 miles is a long adventure.
iRunFar: Yes, Karl Meltzer, 100 miles is a long way.
Dauwalter: It’s cool. I love this distance. You problem-solve and take each section as it comes. You take each variable, like heat or rain, or whatever the terrain looks like. You be as efficient as possible with it and see what happens.
iRunFar: Do you have your passport ready for your three-country run?
Dauwalter: Do I get to bring it and get it stamped?
iRunFar: I don’t think so, but that would be awesome.
Dauwalter: No, but I’m really worried about what my language is. How do I say “Thank you” at each of the aid stations? I need to practice, and I need to know when the language changes.
iRunFar: It’s true, although there will be fans on the trails who will indicate to you when you enter another country.
Dauwalter: Okay, okay. I’m just going to have the words written on my hand. Forget splits and aid stations.
iRunFar: Yeah, how to say thank you. I wish you the best of luck as you make your journey around the Mount-Blanc Massif.
Dauwalter: Thank you.
iRunFar: Good luck out there.
iRunFar: I do have a really important bonus question. Did you like how I needed to end the interview so I could ask this bonus question?
Dauwalter: This is where it really starts.
iRunFar: So… gelato.
Dauwalter: Go on.
iRunFar: Have you had any yet?
Dauwalter: I haven’t! What a shame. But I’ll be looking for all the chocolatey flavors.
iRunFar: There are a lot of mixed flavors, like “Chocolate and…”
Dauwalter: That’s perfect.
iRunFar: What do you like to put in your chocolate icy treats?
Dauwalter: Caramel… marshmallow swirl…
iRunFar: Oh, it’s going to be so good. Can you let me know how it goes?
Dauwalter: Definitely, out on the trail. Let’s have a whole talk.
iRunFar: Okay, best of luck with the whole gelato enjoyment, too.