Ellie Greenwood And Her Heart-Warming Return To Racing

AJW’s devotional to Ellie Greenwood after her return to ultrarunning because of an 11.5-month injury.

By on March 21, 2014 | Comments

AJWs TaproomEllie Greenwood, welcome back!

“I have been thinking about you a lot today knowing how much you’d love to be out here racing.” It was the first thing Ellie said to me after crossing the finish line at Western States in 2012. I was amazed: she had just crushed the course record and the first thing she said to me was that she’d been thinking of me. All I could think was, What a remarkable person!

As some readers know, back in 2012 I was sidelined with a knee injury for Western States so I spent that day covering the race for iRunFar and volunteering with the race administration. One of my tasks was to interview the race winners on the track after their finishes and I was honored to chat with Ellie after her historic run. From that point on we have enjoyed a marvelous friendship.

And, it is in that context that I followed along nervously with Ellie’s injury woes over the past 11.5 months. After what was considered by many to be one of the most extraordinary seasons of any runner ever in 2012 Ellie was sidelined. Her seemingly indestructible body had failed her and she was forced into a cycle of cross training, recovery, and rehabilitation. As I watched from afar I couldn’t help but think of my own injury woes a year earlier. While I am nowhere near the runner Ellie is, I could feel her pain in the frustrating cycle of injury, recovery, and re-injury.

Therefore, I was beyond thrilled to see her triumphant return to racing last Saturday at the Chuckanut 50k. Knowing how hard it is to come back from serious injury and understanding the doubt and worry that can accompany such a comeback, it was great to see Ellie returning with her signature fire and grace.

Last year at Western States when I was returning after a year away, Ellie joined us for the Veterans Panel two days before the event. It was an inspiring moment when I introduced Ellie to Ann Trason just prior to the discussion. Throughout the evening, these two ultrarunning legends regaled the crowd with stories and advice. In fact, given the magnitude of the moment, Ellie was the rookie in the group. She was wonderfully modest, cheerful, and hopeful even though she was injured and we all knew she desperately wanted to be back out on the trail.

It looks as though Ellie will be patient in her comeback with her eyes on Comrades on June 1 and then some middle-distance ultras in the summer and fall. However, I think I speak for us all in saying that when she is willing and ready, we look forward to welcoming her hopeful, cheerful, and jubilant spirit back to Squaw Valley with open arms. Last weekend was the first big step in that direction.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week
Boundary Bay - Scotch AleSince Ellie is of Scottish descent, living in Canada, and making her comeback with a race near Bellingham, Washington, it seems only fitting that this week’s Beer of the Week is from Boundary Bay Brewery in Bellingham. Their Scotch Style Ale is a red ale with a touch of hops and full-bodied flavor. I got a growler full last summer and it was great. It is strongly recommended to anyone who enjoys this unique variety.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)
Ellie, oh Ellie. Shall we roast and toast her and her return to racing? Have you raced with her, trained with her, seen her pool running or doing rehab, or been chicked by her? Leave a comment with your good Ellie story.

Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.