Claire Bannwarth Pre-2023 Hardrock 100 Interview

A video interview (with transcript) with Claire Bannwarth before the 2023 Hardrock 100.

By on July 11, 2023 | Comments

After racing around the world for years, Claire Bannwarth is making her U.S. racing debut at the 2023 Hardrock 100. In this interview, she talks about her background as a lifelong runner, how she balances the demands of high volume training and racing alongside a full-time job, as well as what else she has planned for her time in the U.S.

For more on who’s racing, check out our in-depth preview. Follow along with our Hardrock 100 live race coverage from Friday.

Claire Bannwarth Pre-2023 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Sarah Brady of iRunFar. I’m here just before the 2023 Hardrock 100 with Claire Bannwarth. Claire, how are you doing?

Claire Bannwarth: Yeah, fine.

iRunFar: Great. And I believe you only got here a couple of days ago. So, have you got a chance to get out and see some of the course, and what do you think?

Bannwarth: I think just the first 20k yesterday and it’s so tough. [laughs] It took me like, six hours. So, yeah. I think it will be beautiful, but very hard.

iRunFar: I think so. It’s tough, but you’re tough. So, you’ll be fine. Since we haven’t interviewed you before, I think everyone would like to hear just a little about your background. So, how did you first get into trail running?

Bannwarth: I started trail running I think five years ago. I mean, I have run for all my life since I was very, very little, but as I lived in cities, I never went to the mountains until five years ago. I did my first trail race five years ago and I just loved it. Even though it was very hard for me. And then I started doing races longer and longer, and I’m now into, like, 500k races, like Tor des Géants, like very, very long races, backyard ultra, 24-hour races, so. And 100 miles, too, even if it is short for me.

iRunFar: Wow, yeah. You did climb up to 100 mile+ really quickly. So, what is it about the really long ultras that you like? Is it just that you feel like you’re better at them, or do you just enjoy being out for that long?

Bannwarth: I think I’m better at them, because I am not fast. [laughs] But I can go slow for days. And also, I love to be able to take some time, you know, because even in 100 milers, you are in a race, you know. You are really, you don’t want to lose any seconds. In very long races, it’s more like I have time to eat. I have time to rest. It’s more enjoyable.

iRunFar: Okay, yeah, less pressure, I suppose.

Bannwarth: Yeah.

iRunFar: Okay, great. And then like, you obviously must have to put in an awful lot of hours in training. How do you work that with the rest of your life? Like, are you a full-time runner now, or do you have another career to manage alongside?

Bannwarth: No, no, I work in an insurance company full time, 40 hours per week. I train almost the same amount of time. So, I don’t sleep. I don’t sleep much. I think I sleep less, and I run or work. So, it’s difficult to manage, but it’s worth it.

iRunFar: Okay, I was guessing not much sleep must be the answer to that! And then you just race so often. Like I’m sure I’ll forget something but, this year alone, I know you’ve done, you won the 260-mile Spine Race in the UK in January, and you’ve done UTS 100 Mile. You did the Trail Cat 200 Mile. I believe you did a stage race last month, then the Trail Montreux 70 mile. So how do you manage to recover in between those and be able to go again? Is it like, to do with your training or is it more of a mental thing?

Bannwarth: I mean, for me, but most of the races I do are training. So, I recover very well. I mean, in one or two days I’m good to go because I am not 100%. And also, I’m used to doing high volume, high mileage since I am maybe 10 years old. So, I’m used to it, so it’s something I really need one or two days to recover, and I mean, it’s something I am used to doing, so.

iRunFar: Okay, great. And yeah, we were chatting just before this interview, you were saying that you’ve had a few mishaps with other times you’ve attempted to come and run in the U.S., so you seem very happy to be here at last. But what is it about Hardrock in particular that you wanted to do as opposed to just a different American ultra?

Bannwarth: I mean, there are a lot of races that I want to do in the U.S., like Western States [100], Leadville [100 Mile]. But Hardrock, I think, is really the challenging one. And it is the one I am not sure to be able to finish, because it’s high altitude. I am really not used to that. And also very technical, rocky, snow, lot of snow. But I’m really happy to be here and to, yeah. I hope to finish.

iRunFar: Okay, so is it fair to say that the possibility that you might not be able to finish is kind of part of the appeal of wanting to try?

Bannwarth: Yes.

iRunFar: Great. And yeah, so we chatted again off camera. You’re not having a relaxing holiday after this is over. You’re doing the Tahoe 200 Mile a week later. How do you feel about that one? Have you looked at the course for that?

Bannwarth: Yeah, I am really looking forward to it. Because I think it’s really my thing, 200 miles. Beautiful landscape, not that much elevation. Should be, I should have a good time.

iRunFar: Okay. It sounds like an ideal recovery run. [laughs]

Bannwarth: Yeah. [laughs]

iRunFar: And then after that you have a hike planned. What was that?

Bannwarth: Yeah, I want to hike the Colorado Trail in 10 days or so, something like that. So, it’d be a first time for me to thru-hike something, and to spend 10 days alone. I mean, I already did 1,000 kilometers nonstop, but I was with a friend. Now, I will be alone, with the bears, and moose, and wild animals. So, I’m kind of excited, but also afraid to do that kind of adventure. But I really wanted to do that. And I think it was a perfect opportunity to do it here in the U.S. and not in a classic trail in Europe.

iRunFar: Okay, I think you’re definitely getting value out of your transatlantic flights anyway.

Bannwarth: Yeah. [laughs] I mean, I have to compensate my carbon impact.

iRunFar: Okay, that’s great. Well, thanks so much. I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic race. It sounds like this will suit you down to the ground. So, thanks very much.

Bannwarth: Thank you.

Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is Managing Editor at iRunFar. She’s been working in an editorial capacity for ten years and has been a trail runner for almost as long. Aside from iRunFar, she’s worked as an editor for various educational publishers and written race previews for Apex Running, UK, and RAW Ultra, Ireland. Based in Belfast, Ireland, Sarah is an avid mountain runner and ultrarunner and competes at distances from under 10k to over 100k. When not running, she enjoys reading, socializing, and hanging out with her dog, Angie, and cat, Judy.