Brittany Peterson has chosen to run the 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k as a tune-up for a big summer of racing. In the following interview, she talks about how she hopes this event will help her grow stronger at climbing, what it’s like to come to a new-for-her race in a region she knows quite well, and what’s in store in her 2022 of racing.
Brittany Peterson Pre-2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Brittany Peterson. It’s a couple of days before the Canyons Endurance Run by UTMB 100k. Hi, Brittany.
Brittany Peterson: Hey.
iRunFar: So, it’s been pouring rain all morning, but we have a break in it so we’re standing outside.
Peterson: Yes, it’s finally nice.
iRunFar: So, we are in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, just outside of Auburn, the endurance capital of the world. This is familiar territory for you.
Peterson: Yep. Kind of turning into a home away from home, which is nice. We’re just chatting about investment properties and aspirations. Lofty goals.
iRunFar: In addition to that, this is an area that you know how to run in. You’ve been here to run Western States twice. You finished twice in the top four. Fourth place this past year. Your family, or rather family by close extension, has extended history here.
Peterson: Yes, yeah. Cody Lind obviously, partner of mine, we are at his family’s house right now. It’s always nice coming back and Cody and I make trips to come down here obviously to train and be on the trails but, like, good winter get away from Idaho, come down to California. And obviously just being specific for what we’re looking ahead to. So, Western States obviously, the big prize. And then Canyons for me this year, where I thought that was a nice addition to the build for Western.
iRunFar: So that’s why you have entry into Western States this year courtesy of your fourth place last year. A lot of people on Saturday are aspiring for one of those three Golden Tickets. You have the luxury of not needing one of those on Saturday. But you’re here building for Western States, then?
Peterson: Yeah, I think, just coming from Idaho where we are snowed in …
iRunFar: And we’re out here on the grass.
Peterson: One of my goals this year to just prep a little bit differently for Western was to be stronger at climbing earlier in the season. And then just being on the Western States course is always good. But I liked the idea of Canyons where one, it’s a competitive atmosphere.
Super excited for all the — I mean everybody — but for the ladies that are chasing the Golden Ticket. It will be just an awesome environment to push myself as well but then, hopefully, be able to enjoy it. And to see what the day has to offer and then use it for excellent training.
iRunFar: Let’s talk about the course that is Canyons for a minute. It’s a fascinating course.
Peterson: Yeah, I mean, runnable, dangerous runnable. A lot of climbing. I mean we could say technical for those trails. In conjunction to not technical. So yeah, I think it has a little bit of everything and then, I mean just a lot of opportunity for mistakes.
So that’s something too, where, I love about ultras. Where it’s really just about figuring out your plan and trying to stay true to your plan and problem-solving if things don’t go well. And, you know, with 14,000+ feet of vert, there’s opportunity for things to not go well.
iRunFar: Yeah, and also still a fair bit of downhill too.
Peterson: Yes, yes. Definitely.
iRunFar: The course, I found to be, I went out and got to see some miles yesterday. I found it to be really unique in the springtime. A lot more technical than it is in the summer, with things kind of wet and tacky and slidey and lingering water.
Peterson: Yeah, and I think just the last section. Essentially, once you get off the Western States trail, after Deadwood, that’s 10 miles of kind of unexplored territory. For a lot of people, I know the locals have told me, they’re upset more people are on those trails but I think they’re …
iRunFar: The secret’s out.
Peterson: Exactly. They are less used, so I think definitely more loose rock, not cleared maybe as thoroughly as lots of parts of the Western States trail. And I’m sure things have changed since I was here in March, but definitely not cleared in a lot of places.
iRunFar: Yeah. In my mind also, one of the unique aspects is that so much of the climbing is from, I don’t know, mile 25 on. There’s just so much climbing put into 35 miles of running.
Peterson: Yeah, and then I think Deadwood is your last aid station. So, it’s 10 miles to the finish with like 3,000 feet of vert. That’s where I was talking to my coach about. That is the make-or-break section where you have to be prepared and then you have to be able to run strong at that point, while having less support. You haven’t seen your crew for a while. It’s just, I think, there’s a lot of technical aspects to this race that make it exciting.
iRunFar: Very cool. 2022, aside from Western States, I mean that’s obviously a focal point for the next two months, what else are you looking at for this year? You’re going to put your feet up and, I don’t know, have a margarita after that?
Peterson: Oh man, you know I’ve admittedly said I’m still trying to do the Western and UTMB double. So, I know that that is not ideal but I’m just, I’m not ready to put Western States on the back burner but I’m also, I don’t want to delay UTMB.
And I know that as far as freshness and training, the paradigm shift has gone well in the past. And then the mental freshness is tight but was not a barrier, so I know I can still do better at UTMB, so I’m not ready to give up on it. Someday, hopefully if I can feel at peace with Western States, then someday, I can flip-flop and have UTMB be more of the focus.
iRunFar: So, you are going to try to double?
Peterson: Yep, yep.
iRunFar: Awesome. Well, then this is just the beginning of this year for you.
Peterson: Exactly. Yep, which I mean that’s kind of my focus, is to keep my head in a good space, make sure I’m training properly to not get hurt and not burnt out, things like that. This should be a fun start.
iRunFar: Awesome. Well, best of luck to you on Saturday. And best of luck with your big goals for 2022.
Peterson: Thank you so much.