Amy Sproston is the defending 100k world champion, and she along with Meghan Arbogast and Pam Smith make up the returning members of the 2012 Team USA, which earned the gold medal at the previous IAU 100k World Championships and which will compete at the 2014 100k world championships this Friday. In this interview, Amy talks about some of the injury challenges she’s faced this year and how she’s hopeful that her fitness is close to where she wants it to be. Team USA talks about their success in 2012, what they will apply from that experience to this year’s race, and what teams they expect to compete with for this year’s team podium.
Amy Sproston, Meghan Arbogast, and Pam Smith Pre-2014 IAU 100k World Championships Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with the returning women from Team USA that won the gold at the IAU 100k World Championships in 2012. Congratulations, women.
Amy Sproston, Meghan Arbogast, Pam Smith: Thank you.
iRunFar: It’s two-and-a-half years later and yet you still retain the crowns here. Does it bring any pressure to you guys coming into the race?
Pam Smith: I think with that performance, I don’t know if it’s “pressure,” but I think we all have the desire to repeat that. That’s what our goal is and what we’re gunning for.
Amy Sproston: I don’t see it as pressure. There are a few good teams here and anything happens on any given day, so we’ll go out and try to do our best again and see what happens.
Meghan Arbogast: I think you can expect that we will perform well. I think most teams would expect that, too, from us.
iRunFar: You all have a lot of experience. Not only have you done the 100k here before at worlds, but you have a lot of other experience as well. You’re not going to go out there and be too aggressive.
Arbogast: Hopefully we’ve aged wisely in the last two-and-a-half years.
iRunFar: The American women’s squad besides you three is very strong. Having Larisa [Dannis] and Emily [Harrison] here—two big additions.
Arbogast: It’s very solid.
Smith: Great additions to the team.
Arbogast: No weak links.
iRunFar: No, because the three of you were one, four, and five two years ago. Each of them could be up amongst you.
Arbogast: Any of that, yeah.
iRunFar: It must be exciting.
Arbogast: It’s exciting for sure.
iRunFar: It seems over the last couple IAU 100k’s, the American women’s team has continued to get stronger and stronger. The ball keeps rolling. More top women get interested especially after you three got the gold.
Smith: I think that’s what you just hit on the head. There have always been some strong women ultrarunners, but more and more of them are focusing on doing the 100k and actually coming to this race and making it a priority.
Arbogast: I think the more exposure it got and the more people learned about it and how much fun it was to be on this team and represent the U.S. has a real appeal.
iRunFar: It must be an honor to represent your country.
Smith, Sproston, Arbogast: It really is. Absolutely.
iRunFar: Amy, you won it last time, and you’re back.
Sproston: Yeah, I had a great day. This year’s team, any of the five could really turn in a winning performance. There are also a lot of great women on the other teams.
iRunFar: Are you feeling pretty good coming into the race?
Sproston: My year hasn’t been ideal, but I’m definitely not overtrained or over-raced. I would have liked to have seen a different summer and fall, but I raced recently in Japan and for as little training as I’ve done, I did really well. I’m not super confident, but I’m okay with my fitness.
iRunFar: Meghan, every time you show up at the world 100k you seem to run faster and faster. Is that true?
Arbogast: Kind of. Yeah. I think so. Not by leaps and bounds, but yeah. I feel fit and ready. I’m excited, so that’s a good sign. To be excited about a race usually means all things are in place.
iRunFar: Pam, you ran pretty well a couple years ago, and you’ve had some pretty amazing performances since then.
Smith: Yeah, I had a pretty tough schedule this summer with the Western States/Angeles Crest double. I was pretty worn down after that. I had about seven weeks where I was pretty low. I feel good now, but I feel that the block of training that I got was a little less than I would have wanted. I feel like getting that recovery in was what was most important.
iRunFar: Probably more important to be a little fresh than overtrained. You can string that season along and it doesn’t usually work out.
Smith: Yeah, it’s been a long season.
iRunFar: You guys have the gold medal still from last time. Who do you think the other top teams are for the women?
Sproston: Great Britain has a great team with three really strong runners. If they all have great days, they’ll be tough to beat. Again, I think they only have three runners, so you never know what’s going to happen.
Smith: Russia and Japan are kind of perennially in the mix for the women’s.
iRunFar: It’s so hard for us to find out—you’re going to know a couple names from previous years.
Sproston: The times don’t really say much because if someone hasn’t run a 100k then they’re not necessarily on the split sheet. The predictions don’t mean a lot.
iRunFar: The same goes for your team as well with Emily and Larisa.
Smith: Yeah, they don’t have qualifier times.
iRunFar: Larisa just ran sub-six hours for 50 miles. Emily is…
Smith: 50k champion.
iRunFar: 50k champion at worlds and just ran, I think, the second fastest U.S. women’s 50k ever this spring at Caumsett. She’s done the 100-mile distance a couple times. She hasn’t really nailed it yet but has gone longer.
Sproston: It will be an exciting women’s race. We’re really strong in this team.
iRunFar: On the individual front on the women’s side, having Ellie Greenwood here is big. She’s healthy and she’s here. Monica Carlin has been on the podium here. She’s been as high as second. Has she won it before?
Arbogast: I know that she’s been second.
Sproston: She’s run sub-7:30, I think.
iRunFar: Past courses have been reasonably fast, at least when you’ve been running it, Meghan. You’ve run your PRs here. This is not going to be a PR day.
Arbogast: It could be.
iRunFar: You think so?
Arbogast: It could be. I think I PRed at Gibraltar which is a very similar course. It was a 5k loop, it had some very sharp turns, and it had more hills to it. It could be a PR course. I don’t think it’s going to be particularly slow. There are turns, but it’s flat.
iRunFar: What about the heat?
Arbogast: If it’s like this, it’s pretty nice.
iRunFar: Today’s actually better than last evening.
Arbogast: Yeah, I don’t think it’s going to be a slow course.
iRunFar: The three of you are coming back and you have new Americans on the team. Do you think you guys will work together as a team at all or is it just really run your own race the whole way?
Sproston: I hope so. We did last time and it worked well together, so I’m hoping we’ll be able to group up a little bit and push each other.
Arbogast: It really helps, especially early on, to kind of stay a little calm. We probably stayed 50k together at worlds?
Sproston: I think we even did three laps together which was 60k. That helped a ton. We are doing 20 loops of 5k, so it’s going to get a little potentially… I don’t want to say boring…
Smith: Monotonous. Repetitive.
Sproston: Monotonous. So it would be nice to have a little bit of company to share that journey with.
iRunFar: It’s interesting to hear you say that it keeps you calm because you’re at the world championships. There are a ton of great women and men, too, in the same race, so you could be drawn out probably.
Sproston: I think it helped us last time.
Arbogast: Oh, yeah.
Sproston: We started off quick, too.
Arbogast: We were not in first.
Sproston: No, we weren’t pushing, really. We knew we were going quick, but we felt good and calm.
Arbogast: There were lots of people going out ahead of us.
iRunFar: Do you guys talk at all when you’re out there?
Sproston: Yeah, we chatted a lot of the time.
Arbogast: Yeah, yeah, because it’s a “relatively” easy pace. It’s not like running a 5k.
Sproston: We stopped chatting after lap two or lap one.
iRunFar: But it does help past the time.
Sproston and Arbogast: Yes.
iRunFar: In passing the time, that’s time where you’re not mentally engaged in terms of having to push or concentrate.
Arbogast: Or count laps.
iRunFar: It’s almost free time. Cool. Best of luck to you, Pam, Amy, and Meghan.
Smith, Sproston, Arbogast: Thanks, Bryon.
iRunFar: Have fun and good luck out there.