Ellie Greenwood is certainly one of the fastest female ultramarathoners in the world at the moment. However, she’ll be stepping well outside her comfort zone in running The Rut 50k this weekend. In the following interview, Ellie talks about how she thinks she stacks up against each of the other top women in the race, how she think she’ll fare on the technical downhills, and whether she thinks the altitude, steepness, or technicality will be her biggest challenge at The Rut.
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Ellie Greenwood Pre-2014 The Rut 50k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Ellie Greenwood before the 2014 The Rut 50k. Ellie, how are you?
Ellie Greenwood: I’m good, thank you.
iRunFar: There’s a lot going on here at The Rut. There’s a high elevation, really technical course with lots of steep climbs. What’s got you most excited?
Greenwood: Yep. I’m not sure right now, to be honest. I’ve scoped out a little bit of the course. I seem to keep taking a wrong turn and end up going the wrong way, but you get the vague feel of the area. That’s the most important thing.
iRunFar: Those flags every 20 yards are awfully faint.
Greenwood: I know, but I didn’t want to do the whole course, right, so you start trying to short cut bits and then you’re like… anyway… So, I’m excited for all of it. I went up to the high point, Lone Peak, yesterday. That’s absolutely beautiful—pretty technical, pretty high altitude which I kind of expected. I’m just excited to get out there and put the whole course together.
iRunFar: What part scares you the most?
Greenwood: Definitely, it’s the same as Speedgoat, once you get up high and it’s steep, it’s hard. I’m coming from sea level. I’ve had a few days here, but it’s never going to make that much difference. So I don’t know whether that’s going to be the most challenging or, in all honesty, the more, in theory, runnable bits lower down. It is at altitude still, so whether… that’s where I really need to be running, and that could be challenging as well with the altitude.
iRunFar: It’s fun. There’s a very, very strong women’s field, yourself included, and one with a dynamic skill set. Are you kind of excited? You are definitely the fastest of the favorites on the flatter or less technical terrain. So are you excited to have a dynamic race with those ladies?
Greenwood: Yeah, definitely. I think I’m more the runner, the pure kind of runner, and I like to get a good pace going if you can. So there’s definitely some terrain where I’ll be able to do that. I’m anticipating that I will probably run the uphills… I’ve got to be realistic. With Kasie [Enman], Emelie [Forsberg], and Anna [Frost], they’re just better at higher altitude and going uphill. But I hope then I can make up some ground on the downhills and the flatter sections, that kind of stuff. It will be interesting. I have no idea how it will pan out.
iRunFar: How will you handle the technical downhill? Do you think you’re…?
Greenwood: That’s okay. Technical terrain doesn’t bother me too much. It’s more long climbs or steeper climbs that are not my forte. Technical stuff I don’t really have an issue with, so that’s okay. Technical downhill is okay. I saw the two Mikes (Mike Wolfe, Mike Foote) and Anna when I was coming downhill yesterday. They were kind of laughing at me. They might have a different thing to say, but I think I’m alright.
iRunFar: Okay, so it’s not a big weakness of yours.
Greenwood: No, I don’t think so. In all honesty, it seems like that’s the middle third of the race where there’s the real technical, rocky terrain. So in a sense, I’ve got that final third where hopefully I can use that as well. It’s not like it finishes on terrain that I’m going to be struggling on, I hope.
iRunFar: So you know you’re going to try to gap the field early or are you just going to run your own race?
Greenwood: I’m just going to run my own race and do my own thing. I think it’s the only thing I can do. I’m not super confident on this type of course. So to go out and head-to-head try and race people who I feel this is a little more suited to I don’t think would be the smartest move. I will just run the best race I can run.
iRunFar: So what brings you to a course like this? You obviously excel on the road like at Comrades or on the trail like at Western States. Why The Rut here in Montana?
Greenwood: It’s fun to try something different. It’s good to try a Skyrunning race. I don’t know I would necessarily from the outset go all the way to Europe to do a Skyrunning race because that’s a long ways to go to try something a little bit different. You get to run in beautiful places like that and that’s part of what is fun is getting to go to places like this and, yeah, to try something that’s out of the comfort zone. You get to mix it up. If you don’t try this sort of stuff then you’ll never get any better at it.
iRunFar: You ran super fast at the Squamish 50k coming down to a kick for second place. Sorry you got out-kicked. How has your running gone since then? Did you get a good training block in?
Greenwood: It’s gone good. Squamish 50k, I ran hard for the last few kilometers and I ran steadily hard all day. I didn’t kill myself. This is a good way to get 50k in and have good fun. There were lots of people that I knew there, so that was nice. Yeah, I didn’t kill myself. Even the week after that I got right back into training. All in all it has gone okay.
iRunFar: Nice, so you’re ready to go and feeling good.
Greenwood: Yeah, I am.
iRunFar: Best of luck out there, Ellie.
Greenwood: Thank you so much.
iRunFar: Bonus question for you, Ellie. I just came back from the Tor des Géants where a lot of people were talking about how much you might enjoy such a race. You want to try different challenges. Can we maybe expect to see you there?
Greenwood: Well, when you put it on Facebook I still think you’re being sarcastic.
Greenwood: So, I’m ridiculously impressed. You were following my good friend, Jackie [Muir], from Vancouver who is right now in 12th position. We’re all cheering for you, Jackie. She came in ninth last year and it was about a day into it last year when I was following it online when suddenly grasped the magnitude of what she was doing. And obviously, following Meghan [Hicks] and all the other runners this year—the whole sleep deprivation thing, I don’t know whether that appeals. I love the scenery, but my goodness, maybe one day.
iRunFar: Maybe one day. Alright, thanks, Ellie.