Aroa Sio of Spain took a surprise third place at the 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k, and earned a Western States 100 Golden Ticket in the process. In this written interview from the day after the race, Aroa shares how she only recently found running and a healthy lifestyle, why she wanted to race the Canyons 100k, how she used her strengths on race day, and how she feels about taking third at this competitive event.
For more on what happened at the race, check out our Canyons 100k results article for the play-by-play and links to other post-race interviews.
Aroa Sio Post-2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: First, let’s get to know you a little bit, Aroa. We’ve seen you race in Europe before, but what is your background in sports and running?
Aroa Sio: My running experience goes back only six or seven years. My teen years were linked to athletics. I was only 17 years old when I decided to stop. Different circumstances led me to leave. I went from being active day-to-day to leading a totally sedentary life that included bad habits like smoking, which accompanied me for 20 years. I was aware of the situation I was in and decided to change my habits, so I started running and never imagined I would get here.
iRunFar: What made you decide to come to the U.S. to race the Canyons 100k? Did you come because of the Western States 100 Golden Tickets or something different?
Sio: My decision to come was made for several reasons. First, to run in the United States — to know new places — and on top of that, there was the Golden Ticket. So, this combination was very attractive.
iRunFar: Let’s talk about the race. I think you went out pretty hard quite early. There was a gap between you and many of the women, with the exception of eventual women’s champion Jazmine Lowther ahead of you. How did the first 40 kilometers go in the flatter part of the race?
Sio: To me that was the most difficult part. I come from running in Europe, where there is usually a lot more climb and steep terrain, and that is what I am most used to. I decided to go out at a comfortable pace in the first part of the race, but keeping it strong, and being aware of what would come next. Protecting the leg muscles and not going into fatigue until I reached 55k.
iRunFar: What about the middle part of the race where you pass through some of the famous canyons of the Western States 100 course? It looked like you really enjoyed those, especially the downhills.
Sio: I loved that section! The truth is the whole course looks amazing. And yes, I love the downhills, and I knew that if I pushed hard on downhills I could get extra time from my rivals. I was aware that we were very close and that I had to take advantage of my strengths.
iRunFar: Later in the race, I think some of the women behind you got close, and it became a race for the podium. How did that go for you?
Sio: I honestly didn’t know what position I was in. They probably told me during the race, but my English isn’t good, so I didn’t find out until I reached the finish line.
iRunFar: What did you think of the final 5k, which had so much snow and water?
Sio: I loved running through the snow but only the first two snowy kilometers. When my feet began to freeze and I suffered several falls because I was skating, I changed my mind and was feeling anxious to reach the finish line, and my legs were already destroyed.
iRunFar: You eagerly accepted your Golden Ticket at the finish line. I presume this means we will see you again in just two months at the Western States 100?
Sio: Of course! I’m so excited about it. Also, it will be my first 100 miler. In fact, Canyons was only my second 100k. So, as soon as I recover, I will start training.