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Eszter Csillag Post-2023 Western States 100 Interview

A video interview (with transcript) with Eszter Csillag after her third-place finish at the 2023 Western States 100.

By on June 25, 2023 | Comments

Eszter Csillag placed third at the 2023 Western States 100. In this interview she talks about her previous outing at last year’s Trail World Championships in Thailand, how she gradually moved up the field yesterday, and her experience running in a very closely bunched women’s race.

For more on how the race played out, read our in-depth Western States 100 results article.

Eszter Csillag Post-2023 Western States 100 Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Sarah Brady of iRunFar. I’m here with Eszter Csillag just after the 2023 Western States 100, and you placed third. How are you feeling?

Eszter Csillag: I am very happy. Yeah, I’m feeling good.

iRunFar: Good. Did you get any sleep?

Csillag: No. Not one minute.

iRunFar: Okay. Too much adrenaline.

Csillag: Or maybe it’s pain. [laughs]

iRunFar: Okay. So, we last interviewed you after UTMB last year where you placed fifth, and you went on to have a fantastic run in the Trail World Championships as well. How was that?

Csillag: That was good that I finished fourth. Many people asked me how did that feel, because it’s like, just after the podium, but because I had to fight for my fourth place I was really happy with that. And yeah, it was a good race.

iRunFar: Brilliant. That was a great result. And then Western States. So, you got in from a Golden Ticket at UTMB. Was that a surprise byproduct of UTMB or was it something that you were thinking of trying to qualify for this race?

Csillag: I was thinking of Western States, but I thought I will have a few years to get in, so I have a few years to get like, faster. I didn’t plan for this year at all. So, it was a kind of surprise. Yeah. But knowing how difficult it is to get into the race, I couldn’t refuse. So, the only thing which was good and played for me is that I had enough time to plan. So my whole first six months was built up with the idea that I need to do, or I wanted to do well at Western States.

iRunFar: Okay, and how did you prepare? Like, did you come over to the U.S. for a time to train?

Csillag: So I did the team race, Oxfam Trailwalker in Hong Kong in February, which was 100k, but it’s a kind of a fast race. That was a good, good first step as a preparation. And after that, from March, I did like, almost two months of marathon training. I did Rotterdam Marathon in mid-April, which went really well. And then I switched to the last preparation for Western States. And then, I came over for the training camp [at the] end of May. So I have been here for one month, and was trying to go on the course as much as possible, and get the elevation. And you know, I have been talking to people, so, yeah. That was, I think, also very useful for me.

iRunFar: Okay, very good. And then just in terms of how the day went, so, you seem to have a style, right? You don’t go out hard, you play it quite safe. You hang back and then when no one suspects, you just appear near the front of the race. So, you did that again. So, I think you were 12th at Foresthill. Can you talk about just the early stages of the race?

Csillag: Yeah, I mean, it’s 100 miles. So for me, it’s like the race doesn’t really start at the beginning. And I prefer like, to play it safe in order not to blow up, because I want to finish the race. That’s my first priority. And so, at the beginning, we were running in together. It was not easy to follow the marks on the snow, so it was also good to like, share eyes. So, we were running together till Robinson Flat with Leah Yingling, and also Jenny Quilty, which was great. And then after like, we separated and I started to run alone. And yeah, then I think from this time, I started to have the women’s field in front of me. And then from there, it was like so many strong women all together. And it was like, hard to run alone from that point onwards, because we were all just so close to each other.

iRunFar: And do you think that like… it was a really, really fast year for the women’s race. So, do you think the fact that there were so many of you, so close, kind of propelled you all to get the best out of yourselves?

Csillag: For sure we pushed each other. I think the snow was kind of, like, I think slowed us down at the beginning. But after that because the weather was so nice, it was not too hot. So, that was for sure important that, to get good times and then we were pushing each other. Yeah.

iRunFar: Okay. And then at what point was it that you actually found yourself in third place?

Csillag: It was not until Rocky Point.

iRunFar: Robie Point?

Csillag: No, no, no, the last check, the one before.

iRunFar: Oh, Pointed Rocks?

Csillag: Pointed Rocks. Sorry. So, Pointed Rocks. You have an uphill to Pointed Rocks and there I was able to get the lead from Katie Asmuth. We were running together from Rucky Chucky. And she was better on downhill and I was better on uphill. And luckily there is an uphill which was like, good to get the lead. And then from there, I had the last 10k when I just had to push to make sure that she’s not arriving and coming back. Yeah, but we really shared a good time. So, yeah.

iRunFar: Okay. When you find yourself in podium position, does the race become more stressful then? Because you feel you need to stay in podium position.

Csillag: Sorry?

iRunFar: Did you feel under pressure then once you were third, that like I have to stay in third?

Csillag: Well, I wanted to get onto the podium.

iRunFar: Yeah.

Csillag: So, it was, yeah, but I had to fight for it. We were really running fast. So, it’s like, it was on the red line. Yeah, but it’s just that I had to fight for the third position. And then I had to keep that, so even at the last uphill after Robie Point, like, I had to run up. And with my pacer, Helen Miller, she was amazing. And she was pushing me. So yeah, that is, I think important.

iRunFar: Okay, fantastic. And then now that this is done, have you any idea of what’s next? Have you anything for this season? Also, do you think you’ll come back next year?

Csillag: I haven’t thought about that. I signed up for OCC. So, if I am recovering well, I should do OCC.

iRunFar: Yeah. Brilliant.

Csillag: It’s a good excuse to do the shorter race.

iRunFar: It looks like a good one. Yeah. Well, thanks so much. Enjoy your recovery and your hard-earned downtime.

Csillag: Thank you. Thank you so much.

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.