Cat Bradley had a breakout win at the 2017 Western States 100. Hear how her race went in this finish-line interview.
For more on Bradley’s race, watch iRunFar’s interview with her as well as her finish. For more on what generally happened during the race, check out our 2017 Western States results article.
Cat Bradley, 2017 Western States 100 Champ, Finish-Line Interview Transcript
Nikki Kimball: Cat, congratulations on your first 100-mile race. It’s kind of an impressive 100-mile race. How do you feel?
Cat Bradley: Well, it was my fourth 100 mile, but it still feels unreal. Yeah, completely unreal. I had no idea. I’m so blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing women. You’ve got to go into it a little humble when you’re surrounded by so many women… amazing… and all women… who are all amazing.
Kimball: That was super well-said. It is your first Western States?
Kimball: I seem to remember another kindergarten teacher from Colorado winning this race a few years ago. Was Anita [Ortiz] part of your inspiration for this?
Bradley: I honestly didn’t know she was a kindergarten teacher, but obviously she’s a hero. Hi, Anita! Yeah, I have so many inspirations, I can’t even count them on my fingers.
Tim Twietmeyer: Looks like kindergarten teachers do well here. A lot of the men were saying what a struggle it was in the first 10 to 15 miles of the race with the snow with slipping and sliding and then the mud. Was it a grind getting out of there? Then you seemed to really close later in the race and get stronger as you got toward the middle and the end.
Bradley: Yeah, I think someone told me I was 30th at that point. “Yeah, 30th woman!” I’m not going to lie. I was pretty discouraged. I probably didn’t handle it too gracefully. Maybe, hopefully some people saw it as grace. I don’t know. It probably worked out for the best because I couldn’t really run in the snow or the mud. I lost my timing chip right away in the mud. It was probably for the better because I didn’t go out too hard. Oh, I forgot to stop my watch!
Kimball: I saw you just before you took the lead just before Foresthill. You looked strong and comfortable coming up Bath Road. Tell me about taking the lead.
Bradley: I was really scared. I didn’t know how I felt about being chased, but actually, I think I ran harder after that. It was kind of unbelievable. I was kind of trying to hang back as long as possible. I wanted to start racing hard at the river and was going to try and hang back until then. It just kind of happened. Then I was running scared, I guess. It felt comfortable for some of it and some of it not.
Twietmeyer: It seemed like the ladies’ race was going back and forth quite a bit. You didn’t take the lead until almost three-quarters of the way through the race. Was there a lot of jockeying back and forth, and there was other ladies in the lead and then dropping back? How was it like in the middle where it seemed like people were moving back and forth on a steady basis?
Bradley: I didn’t really know what was going on at the front at all for most of the day. For me, I made a decision around… I was sick of getting passed after the snow stuff. I didn’t know if it was going to happen, but it was more for just morale because I was in a bad space after the snow in the first 15 miles which is never good. It was just, I’m not going to let anyone else pass me until the finish. That’s a lofty goal obviously. No one passed me. I don’t know if that’s what you’re asking. I had no idea what was going on at the front. I didn’t even know what place I was for the most of it until Devil’s Thumb.
Twietmeyer: Yeah, it seemed like the snow took a toll on a lot of people. Those that actually took it out a little easier through there and ran fairly conservatively like yourself, it seemed like you were very… constrained in the high country… and the guys seemed as well… those guys who held back a bit and saved a little bit of that energy after they got out of the snow and being able to persevere in the heat, it seemed like the race turned into a little bit more of a tactical grind where you keep grinding forward to get ahead. How did you feel as far as that goes in getting to the finish line and grinding it out as it seemed other men were doing that?
Bradley: It’s always a grind to the finish line, but this race is so crazy because it has so many different elements to it. I think it’s unique in that way. It’s not just a high-country race. It’s not just… I don’t even know what you call the canyons… crazy. I don’t know. I feel like it was definitely grinding would be the right word. Also, I don’t know if that’s what you were asking. Also, who won the men’s race?
Twietmeyer: Ryan Sandes.
Bradley: Oh, cool!
Kimball: Cat, congratulations .You’re quite young. Are you 25 or 23?
Bradley: Twenty five.
Kimball: We had that wrong, too. I think that speaks to the nature of the sport that we just don’t know what’s going to happen. Cat is not as well known as she will be after tonight. I just want to say that this is something you are going to have to get used to a bit. Congratulations on just a fantastic race today.