Emily Hawgood is the top returning woman at the 2023 Western States 100, having placed in the top 10 the past two years. In this interview, she talks about how she worked her way up to the 100-mile distance, and what it is about this race that keeps her coming back.
Emily Hawgood Pre-2023 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Sarah Brady of iRunFar. I’m here just before the 2023 Western States 100. And I’m here with Emily Hawgood. Emily, how are you?
Emily Hawgood: Hi, I’m good. Thank you.
iRunFar: Great. So, you’re the top returning woman this year. How does that feel?
Hawgood: Yeah, it’s kind of an honor. I miss that the other girls don’t get to be here. But super special to be back, and I’m so excited.
iRunFar: Great. So, this is your third Western States. So, you were fifth last year, and I believe you were eighth the year before. And you went to quite a lot of rounds to get in in 2021 as well, didn’t you? You ran was it three Golden Ticket races?
Hawgood: Right. Yeah. Three Golden Tickets.
iRunFar: Okay. You really wanted to get in.
Hawgood: [laughs] Yeah.
iRunFar: So, what is it about this race that really drew you in and now keeps you coming back?
Hawgood: Yeah, I lucked out that my coach is Paul Lind, and his dad and the whole family have a really amazing connection to Western States. So that’s kind of how I learned about it. I was kind of a trail runner newbie, didn’t know anything about trail running. Didn’t know anyone famous or anything. And they started telling me stories of being younger, and just the opportunities they had to be out here, and see people run 100 miles. And then Paul actually ran twice. And his dad was the medical director here. And they start the race with a shotgun. So, that kind of sparked the fire in it.
And then as I got the opportunity to build up and race 100k, I was like, Oh, maybe I’ll get a chance to race 100 miles!And so, jumped in to try and get a Golden Ticket. It was a journey to get to that finish line for sure that first year, and now living in Roseville, I get to be a part of the community. And the trail, it’s become home trail. And the community is incredible. Just the whole vibe around Western States is amazing. And I’m so lucky to get to be here.
iRunFar: Okay. And I think where you started off interviewing a few years ago, you were doing like the Skyrunning series. So, you’ve kind of moved direction a little bit into these longer endurance things and do you think that’s more where your strengths lie?
Hawgood: Yeah. Starting out as a young athlete, I know I didn’t need to or want to jump immediately to the 100-mile distance. I hope I’m running when I’m 80. And so trying to keep the body healthy and mind healthy and everything. The Skyrunning series is a great opportunity to develop technical skills and uphill skills, downhill skills. All the things I didn’t have coming from a flat part of the world. But, now, I jumped over. I kind of mixed it up, too. It isn’t like I’ve closed the door to Skyrunning. And I hope the opportunity arises to jump in a shorter, more technical race sometime soon. But, I like both.
iRunFar: Great. That might be your answer to my next question, as well. Uou’ve done UTMB, too. The last few years, you were also top 10 at that. So, obviously also 100 miles but it’s pretty different. There’s a lot of hiking, a lot more time out. So, when you compare that to Western States, do you have a favorite, or what’s different, what’s the same?
Hawgood: Yeah, completely different. I mean, I know they say 100 miles, but just incredibly unique races in themselves. Obviously, Western States has a lot more runnable opportunities. UTMB, I mean, I’m learning you can run a lot more as you get stronger and get out in the mountains, but UTMB is definitely a big mountain race. And you deal with a lot more in terms of weather, and having to probably be smarter. Even at Western, I think you can take a little more chances, just because you’re not out there as long. Whereas UTMB, you’ll be out there for, you know, 28 hours, I think was my first year doing it. So that’s a long time. [laughs] Yeah, and then starting different times. Western you start in the morning. UTMB you start at 6:00 at night. So just that uniqueness brings in, it brings in. And then just the communities. I mean here we get to have kind of a small community of runners out there, and it grows with all the spectators and support and media. But UTMB is kind of just another level. A lot of people.
iRunFar: Yeah, I think this definitely feels more intimate than UTMB.
Hawgood: Yeah, for sure. And you get to know people a little more closely, too. Because a lot of people come out here and spend time on the trail. And there’s more opportunities to maybe run into each other.
iRunFar: Okay, that’s great. Yeah, so just how your season’s going so far. I think you did a 50k in February and you won that.
Hawgood: Thank you.
iRunFar: And I think you did 80k in Argentina last month, was it? How was that?
Hawgood: Yeah. It’s funny, that’s only this season. [laughs] Oh, it was so special to go and be a part of a different community, and get to know them, and see a different part of the world. I’ve never been to South America before. So super unique. And that was such a cool course. They had a little bit of everything. Super runnable and then a lot of cow pastures. You just ran right through them. And then we jumped over maybe 20 fences. They don’t open the gates. You just climb through them. It was great. And then we even had some technical ridges, like Skyrunning-type. Not with exposure, but just in the middle of the course they were thrown in. And it was so cool. And just seeing Argentina and the people, who were amazing. Yeah, it was such a great experience and my Spanish kind of improved. I didn’t have any, so I got a few words down there. [laughs]
iRunFar: That’s great. You can order coffee.
iRunFar: So you’re pretty experienced at running this race and preparing for it. So is there anything about this training block that you’ve done differently?
Hawgood: Yeah, everyone keeps asking me that. Like I said before, I think you take your knowledge from this race, but also from other races. And kind of just knowing where you need to home in on maybe a little more, but also kind of just doing the things you’ve been doing for six years better. Or doing a little more, because your body can handle it. You’ve built up a little more endurance, or a little more speed, because your body can handle it. I think that knowledge of having that communication with my body. Of knowing when to push a little more, when to not. How to recover better. Yeah, that side of things, I think is always a learning opportunity, but has also been key in my training block this year.
iRunFar: Okay. And then after this, are you going back to UTMB? Or are you going to take a bit more downtime this time? Or what’s the plan for the rest of the season?
Hawgood: Yes, I’m actually going back to CCC.
Hawgood: I know. I think I’m going to run the back half of the course with a little freshness. See what I can learn out there. And yeah, hopefully use that knowledge in the future, too. I’m really excited.
iRunFar: Yeah. Okay. That’s great. Yeah, so best of luck anyway. Yeah. I hope you have a great day on Saturday, and we’ll see you right there.
Hawgood: Thank you so much!