Beth Pascall returns to UTMB after winning the Western States 100 just two months ago. In the following interview, Beth talks about what her recovery from Western States has been like, what her training has looked like the past few months, and in what ways she might improve upon her prior fourth- and fifth-place finishes at UTMB.
Beth Pascall Pre-2021 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Beth Pascall before the 2021 UTMB. How are you, Beth?
Beth Pascall: I’m doing good, thanks.
Pascall: Yes, it’s, dare I say it nice to be back in Chamonix.
iRunFar: Yeah. It’s actually been delightful the last couple of days. Decent weather. It’s a little calmer than usual.
Pascall: Yeah, I mean, I say we’ve been in town for perhaps two hours, so.
iRunFar: Okay, well. [laughs]
Pascall: And I’ve tolerated it so far. We, we’ve been around for a few weeks so we’ve just been hiding away from Chamonix.
iRunFar: I won’t to ask about your secret hiding place.
Pascall: Okay. No.
iRunFar: But I’m sure you had a good time there.
Pascall: Yeah, it has been good.
iRunFar: Last time we chatted was that right after you won Western States. How, has that sunk in, that performance?
Pascall: Yeah, I guess so. It’s been a couple of months now. Yeah, I certainly feel better than I did then. I think I was close to fainting [laughs] when we were standing up doing that interview.
iRunFar: [laughs] Yeah. You seemed a little tired.
Pascall: Yeah, I was. Yeah, it’s been cool. It’s felt different, I guess the build up to this race, after what happened in Western States. Like I don’t feel any pressure this, this year which is nice.
iRunFar: Nice. So it’s actually, you feel like having one great performance kind of takes pressure off having a second one in the same season or?
Pascall: Yeah, I think so, yeah. I mean, I think everyone knows that it’s kind of hard to do well at both. I mean, feeling good, like it could, what could happen but yeah. I don’t feel that pressure to have like a good performance now. I’ve already had one this year.
iRunFar: You’ve had quite a good performance, yeah. So how did you feel after mentally and physically after Western States?
Pascall: Really, really crappy. For a long time. [laughs]
iRunFar: Yeah? Like in what way?
Pascall: Just, yeah, mentally and physically it took me a long time to recover. A lot longer than it did when I did the Western States and UTMB double in 2019. Maybe because, like I raced hard or I trained harder. Maybe because I got married, a couple of weeks after Western States and that was super stressful in itself.
iRunFar: That’s a double. [laughs]
Pascall: Yeah. [laughs] So that was exhausting, but, but yeah, like the last month or so, I felt, I felt okay.
iRunFar: You finally got your feet back under you.
Pascall: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I haven’t done like a big training block like I’d normally do for UTMB. I mean normally I’d do like some back to back long days in the mountains. Usually do a lap Mont Blanc like a month out, but I haven’t done any of that. So it’s difficult to say like…
Pascall: Exactly. I haven’t had that long run to say right, I’m ready. But I feel fresh and myself and so we’ll see.
iRunFar: After, after having that run of Western States it’s probably better to, to err on the side of being a little fresh.
Pascall: Exactly, that’s exactly what we’ve done.
iRunFar: It’s not your first race. You have experience and years of training in your legs. And clearly you were fit at the end of June, so.
Pascall: So yeah I hope I’ve still got some of that. So.
iRunFar: Did you enjoy making this switch from, I would assume you did faster training before Western States or flatter training to preparing for the mountains of Mont Blanc?
Pascall: I mean it has been really nice being here for a few weeks, being back in the mountains. I mean, it doesn’t really feel like I’ve done a whole lot of training. I wouldn’t say I’ve been doing slower and longer training. It’s more before Western States I was training a lot.
Pascall: And now I am not training a lot. [laughs] Resting a lot instead.
iRunFar: Resting a lot.
Pascall: And doing like a little bit in the mountains. Just some short kind of up and down runs to hopefully get my legs ready. But at the same time, yeah, prioritizing being fresh.
iRunFar: Probably also, yeah, like, having had that great performance and having some fatigue on your legs, there’s probably a tendency for somebody, especially coming over here to do too much.
Pascall: Oh yeah, absolutely.
iRunFar: Have you done that in the past ever?
Pascall: Yeah, I would say so. But I have a sensible coach. [laughs]
iRunFar: Oh, I don’t ask that pointedly but like, it’s easy to do. Lots of people.
Pascall: Oh, yeah. If I was just here doing, you know, deciding what I do day to day I would no doubt be doing way too much.
iRunFar: What have you enjoyed in this build up? Just relaxing in the mountains or?
Pascall: We’ve been to some new places. So we’ve been out here in the van, and yeah. We’ve been sort of further south and yeah, some nice national parks that we haven’t been to before.
iRunFar: So not just staying on the course.
Pascall: No, so really avoided the course, actually, as much as possible. I’ve done it a little bit on the course but yeah. I tried to see new places and think about, you know, cool training locations so when, when I come back and are able actually to do some hard training.
iRunFar: So it’s going to be fresh, too. Like not only are your legs fresh but the course will be. You, you know well enough. You know what’s coming. But it’s not…
Pascall: Yeah, I think it’s easy to overdo it. And I want that, you know, when I climb up out of, like, up above Val Ferret on Saturday morning and you get, and it’s sunrise and you feel that like, wow, this is cool. I’m really lucky to be here. And you might, I might not get that if I’d done that section of the course five times in the last few weeks.
iRunFar: Which you might have done otherwise.
Pascall: Yeah, exactly.
iRunFar: Did it feel like a good honeymoon trip? Did it, did you frame it that way at all?
Pascall: I can’t. My husband won’t let me call it a honeymoon. [laughs]
iRunFar: Well he’s not listening. [laughs]
Pascall: Anything that involves a race at the end can’t be classed as holiday or honeymoon, as a rule.
iRunFar: Fair enough. That’s a good rule. Keep them separate, business and pleasure. So you have been fourth and fifth here at UTMB if I remember correctly. And do you think you can improve upon that?
Pascall: I can definitely improve upon that. Like I, I wouldn’t say I have ever had a good race at UTMB, if I really think about it. There’s always been a lot of really dark moments, like periods of 10 hours. [laughs]
iRunFar: [laughs] Just a third of the race.
Pascall: Yeah, so I know I can do better. But it’s, it’s hard to get the whole course right.
iRunFar: What do you think you can improve upon? Are there any specific changes you can make or corrections you can take to problems you see on the way?
Pascall: Well I’m hoping, so I’m fitter, so I’m hoping an easier effort near the beginning will mean that I’m further up the field and also fresher later on. So I have gone a bit too hard, probably some years.
iRunFar: So how, with you being fitter, how do you think you’d be able to control that maybe urge to go fast at the beginning?
Pascall: No, I think I’ll be able to control it pretty well. Like I don’t foresee myself going off, like with the lead. I’m very happy to let people go. And I think, you know, with a race this length, that’s fine. There’s so much time later on. So, I would feel uncomfortable if I was first into Courmayeur, definitely. It’s different from like your first person to Foresthill, you only have so many hours. But from Courmayeur you’ve got,
iRunFar: Half a day.
Pascall: Over half a day. You’ve got a long time.
Pascall: So yeah, I’d like to be, I don’t know, yeah.
iRunFar: But you don’t need to have contact with a leader.
iRunFar: You don’t have to be in the lead or five minutes or ten minutes back.
Pascall: Yeah. I’m going to just run my own race 100% until at least Courmayeur. And then see what happens.
iRunFar: Well, hope you have a great race out there and enjoy it.
Pascall: Thanks, Bryon.
iRunFar: Thank you.