After winning last year’s CCC, Clare Gallagher will step up in distance and take on UTMB this year. In the following interview, Clare talks about what went wrong at Lavaredo in June, how her summer running has gone since, and what mental approach she wants to take into UTMB.
Read our women’s and men’s previews to see who else is racing before following our UTMB live coverage starting on Friday.
Clare Gallagher Pre-UTMB 2018 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Clare Gallagher before the 2018 UTMB. How are you, Clare?
Clare Gallagher: I’m great. Thanks.
iRunFar: Back in Chamonix.
Gallagher: Yes, here we are again.
iRunFar: You were here last year and won that little CCCthing.
Gallagher: Little? Well, I guess it is little-ish?
iRunFar: No, no, no, you crushed it and had a really good race over here.
Gallagher: Yes, it was an amazing day. I’m trying to channel that right now leading into it. You can never perfectly replicate a lead-up to one race the same as another, but I’m trying to get those same vibes.
iRunFar: You were… I don’t know if you were signed up for another one of the UTMB races, but you’ve been thinking about UTMB since this spring or even before. I know talking with you at the Trail World Championshipsand you said, “I need some points.”
Gallagher: Yeah, I was signed up for TDS, but then I was able to move into UTMB, and here I am.
iRunFar: Is that what Neversummer 100kwas about? Getting some…
Gallagher: Getting those final points.
iRunFar: Were you able to take that relatively easy?
Gallagher: Are you familiar withAddie Bracy?
Gallagher: Of course you are. Addie Bracy, who just got second at Leadvilleand is this amazing short distance runner, won Neversummer 100k which is an awesome race in random rural north-central Colorado. I thought I was taking it easy, but racing against Addie Bracy, it’s impossible to take it easy. She ended up beating me by an hour. I was like, whatever. I definitely worked hard, and that was essentially my long run of the summer. Yeah. I’m training for UTMB. I’ve done some decent stuff, but it’s mainly been shorter and faster. I do better with that type of intensity.
iRunFar: Rather than slogging through a lot of volume.
Gallagher: I won’t lie. My average mileage per week the past month has been probably 60 miles per week, so it’s pretty low.
iRunFar: But focused?
Gallagher: Yeah. I’m definitely training in Colorado.
iRunFar: You had a ridiculous string of travel.
Gallagher: Yeah, I don’t know if I travel quite as much as you guys, but I was traveling a lot from March to the end of June pretty much nonstop—all over, too. It was awesome. I really thrive off travel, but, eventually, the lack of training caught up.
iRunFar: Lavaredowasn’t your best performance. Was there anything particular going on, or was it just not a good day?
Gallagher: It was a solid slew of events. I threw up for the first time in a race. That had never happened before. That was fun.
iRunFar: Welcome to the club.
Gallagher: That was weird. So I had not a lot of calories the second half of the race. I was repeatedly rolling a bad ankle, so I more or less walked the last 20 miles.
iRunFar: Is the ankle better?
Gallagher: It is.
iRunFar: You were ninth?
Gallagher: Yeah, I finished ninth. It was a good race for the first half. I was running with Kelly Wolfand Keely Henninger, so a fun little American contingent. Kelly ultimately won. It was exciting and close up front, and then it just disappeared.
iRunFar: Your ankle is better. Did you get a chance to investigate your nutrition a little bit?
Gallagher: Yeah, I just gave so, like, zero f**** at Lavaredo. I was pounding Honey Stingers and then I ate a GU, and that combo was not ideal, I guess, mixing gels. Then, I ate this Patagonia Provisions bar, this super great organic Provisions bar and, then, some super bitter lemon juice on top of it. I was going to town. Nutrition is not my downfall. Give me everything. My parents were crewing me. My dad was like, “Yeah, sure,” and giving me… not race food. I think it was the bitter lemon that threw me over… the acidity. So watch out for bitter lemon.
iRunFar: No bitter lemon, folks. Don’t be bitter.
Gallagher: I should be drinking sports drink or coke…
iRunFar: Or water… lots of good options. So you thought about it a little bit?
Gallagher: Yes, I did practice my fueling the rest of the summer.
iRunFar: How did it go at Neversummer?
Gallagher: Great. Awesome. I was able to put down a lot of calories.
iRunFar: You’re up high there for awhile.
Gallagher: Yeah, but I love altitude. I just love it. Who knows, maybe that’s just a mental thing. I have 20 little Snickers bars and 20 little Butterfingers with me. I did that at Leadville two years ago. Just go back to what you know.
iRunFar: Fun-size candy bars?
Gallagher: Yes.., and gels.
iRunFar: This will be your second 100 miler. Your first one went really well.
Gallagher: Yes, well, I ran 93 miles of Western Stateslast year, but…
iRunFar: Oh, yeah.
Gallagher: Yes, so this should be my second 100-mile finish.
iRunFar: Hopefully… and you get a couple bonus miles in there, like 106 or…? Are you excited for that?
Gallagher: Totally! The bonus miles, or…?
iRunFar: The whole deal.
Gallagher: I really am. It’s so ridiculous. This sport… I want to not normalize the ridiculous stuff we do. I think going in with this mindset that this is absolutely insane…
iRunFar: So this isn’t normal? That’s good perspective to have.
Gallagher: Yeah, you know, especially in our little bubble of ultrarunning, “Oh, I’m just doing a 100 this month.” We do, Bryon! “What are you doing this summer?” “Oh, just Hardrock.”
iRunFar: Just a little race in Colorado.
Gallagher: Anyway, I’m trying to really respect the scale of these mountains, the scale of the race, how many thousands of people do it, the competition, and just be that little pebble in the mix.
iRunFar: Does that help you temper expectations or effort early on having that thought of the enormity?
Gallagher: Yeah, I think it will help me be more present, too. You’re just this little speck in this big thing of the Alps… called the alps.
iRunFar: We can’t see too much of that right now… actually, we can…
Gallagher: Mont Blanc. Yeah, I think it’s healthy for expectations, too. You can’t have a bad day when you have that type of attitude.
iRunFar: Yeah, make it as far as you can, and if you make it all the way around, great, and if it happens to be fast… so be it.
Gallagher: Yeah, great! If I can be racing at mile 50-60, that’s my goal. I’d love to be able to race 40-50 miles…
iRunFar: At the end?
iRunFar: Not before that—you don’t want to be racing?
Gallagher: No, and if I am, you should be like, “You need to stop.”
iRunFar: Can I give you that update at Les Contamines? “Clare, you look like you’re racing. You’re not at 60 miles yet. Pebble.”
Gallagher: Yeah, exactly. Pebble. Be the pebble.
iRunFar: You’re a boulder going downhill quick.
iRunFar: No lemon bitters. We have a whole race plan here. It’s great. Is there anything in particular you’re excited for out there?
Gallagher: The craziness of CCC in terms of being in three different countries I’m really looking to return to again. And how many stoked Europeans just watching this race—I really thrive off that energy, of kids with their parents on top of a mountain picnicking watching UTMB. I love that.
iRunFar: You were in CCC. UTMB is probably another step up from that in terms of spectating.
Gallagher: Right? Yeah, because they’re focused on that race more. I love it. It’s so cool.
iRunFar: Awesome. Clare, enjoy it out there, and have fun.
Gallagher: Thanks, Bryon. I appreciate it.