The 2024 Hardrock 100 is history! Check out our in-depth results article for the full race story, as well as our interviews with champions Courtney Dauwalter and Ludovic Pommeret.

Eszter Csillag Post-2024 Western States 100 Interview

A video interview with Eszter Csillag after her third-place finish at the 2024 Western States 100.

By on July 1, 2024 | Comments

Eszter Csillag finished third at the 2024 Western States 100, her second third-place finish in a row. In this interview, Eszter talks about how she raced more aggressively in the first half this year compared to last, how she navigated a long puke-and-rally session mid-race, and how she was able to turn things around to finish third in a tight race for the podium.

For more on how the race played out, read our in-depth 2024 Western States 100 results article.

Eszter Csillag Post-2024 Western States 100 Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Eszter Csillag. It’s the day after the 2024 Western States 100 and you finished third-place for the second year in a row. Congratulations, Eszter.

Eszter Csillag: Thank you so much. Thank you. Nice to see you again.

iRunFar: Nice to see you, too.

Csillag: I hoped to see you.

iRunFar: How do you feel today? You had a personal journey that was as up and as down as the course itself yesterday.

Csillag: Absolutely. It was a roller coaster. Compared to last year when I was really conservative at the start, I wanted to push more from the beginning. And I’m not sure if, for what reason, I had a very low point from Foresthill to the river where I was really not sure how this whole thing will end up. But all in all, I think it was a really interesting race. I mean, to be up front from Dusty Corners, after Dusty Corners I think was when I passed Emily [Hawgood], and I was second till after Michigan Bluff, when Fu-Zhao [Xiang] passed me. And after Foresthill I was sitting at the fifth place. And yeah, Chris Hollis was pacing me from Foresthill to the river, and he gave me this thing. Yeah. [gestures to a pinback button.] But when I arrived to the river, actually, the water and the cool temperature of the water was really, really life changing. I came out and I had that idea, actually from the very beginning, that I need to run up to Green Gate. And that was I think, the only reason why I could catch up with Emily. And after it, I just had to push to the very end, because everyone was pushing. Emily was pushing, so it was a really interesting race and I’m so happy that with that low point, I was able to come back.

iRunFar: So to summarize that, you went out harder in the race this year than last year to try to push yourself. You had a great early section. You hit a pretty significant low point around Foresthill down to the river. According to your badge you did some puking and rallying. You found the cool refreshing waters of American River and a run uphill to Green Gate to be your rejuvenation for a very strong finish to come back from that low point, and move back into podium position. Is that a summary of what happened?

Csillag: Absolutely.

iRunFar: Okay.

Csillag: Yeah, this is the roller coaster of yesterday.

iRunFar: So, take me then to the river. Cal Street is a difficult piece of real estate on any day, and then put it at mile 60 in a race where you’re going down to the hottest part of the course. You already have 60 miles in your legs. You’re adding to that your own low point where you’re sick. How exactly did you get in your mind you would, and then could, do the run uphill to Green Gate and bring your race back?

Csillag: So basically, it was my coach Jason Koop. He told me when we met on Thursday, I want you to run up to Green Gate. And he talked to Chris Hollis, when you arriving to the river, you tell her she needs to run up. And then when I came up from the river, Helen and Pete, Pete was waiting for me down at the river, Katie Asmuth’s husband. Amazing crew, like everyone. And you remember what you said? You’re going to run up. So they didn’t let me, I had no choice, basically. I had to run up. But it was okay. I think just really the water cooled me down, and after I was fine. After, I just had to make sure that I don’t destabilize again, my body. So I just had to look after that side. But I knew that I have about less than three hours to run, and I just need to keep running.

iRunFar: Where did you ultimately work your way back into podium position? At what mile were you sitting in third again?

Csillag: So, when I arrived to Green Gate, Emily just left, but I saw her. And at the river, she was about six minutes ahead. And then I drank something, and I got some ice, and I changed my socks at Green Gate. So after I think about 20 to 25 minutes, I took her back. And then she was really like, it was a fight till the very end. I knew she was behind me. Yeah. It was a big push till the very end.

iRunFar: What’s it like to race 100 miles and then have the race continue literally to the finish line? Where you know, it’s just minutes till not one woman, but multiple women behind you? What’s in your head in the final miles of something like that?

Csillag: You can’t stop racing. There is no, like, we had to run up to Robie Point. From Robie Point, I was still not sure where Emily is. So I just had to run up from Robie Point as well, and just keep pushing to the very end. And almost like last year, till you hit the track. And like we know from the men’s race, even the track can be kind of a…

iRunFar: A tense place.

Csillag: Exactly. Yeah. Basically, there is no stop. You have no excuse to stop racing early on.

iRunFar: You come around the track. You have your family with you after a long gap, a long time away from them while training here in America. You crossed the line finishing third for the second year in a row. You run about a half hour faster than last year. That’s the third fastest time in the history of the event. Have I got that right?

Csillag: Fourth.

iRunFar: Fourth fastest time in the history of the event. It’s under the time that you were really dreaming about last year, Ellie Greenwood’s amazing 2012 course record time. Do you allow yourself to celebrate? Do you allow that to sink in? How is that right now with you?

Csillag: Yes. I’m very proud that I came back, and I was racing to the end. I am very happy how I handled that low point. I’m happy how the whole racing and the whole day unfolded. And how I managed this different situations, and the competition, and so I’m proud of that for sure. On the other hand, I have to analyze what happened. What I did wrong, why I had the low point, because those are the things where if I work on them, then I can be a better runner next time. So I think a deep analysis of that is really important. I do analyze my runs, my races, all the time. So I think there is this competition. There is two sides that I have at the moment, but I’m very happy with yesterday’s result.

iRunFar: You said next time. Does that mean next time in like, the next arbitrary ultra in your future, or is that next time at Western States? As in 2025, see you again?

Csillag: I told to Karina, I will decide later about next year. But let’s say, better I come back or not. But anyway, for both scenarios, like for next ultra, and also if I come back for the next Western States. I have to analyze, get the lesson, and improve on those parts to be better.

iRunFar: One thing that we do know is in your future in a couple of months, you’re signed up to race UTMB again. You’ve had two very different experiences at UTMB so far. An incredible race in 2022, and what you would call a heartbreaker drop from UTMB in 2023. You have your mind set on returning to that race and doing it justice by you this year. Is that right?

Csillag: Yes. So, this year the goal is to do the double. And I hope not deciding last moment. And also with the family. We organized our schedule or our duties differently. I can do a good preparation. But on the other hand, after last year lesson, I also have to be very honest whether I am capable, and go to the start line knowing that yeah, I can do this. And don’t be too foolish about just being excited. To be honest, is something that I want to remind myself till the start line.

iRunFar: You’re a member of the Pro Trail Runners Association, the women’s, and I believe it’s called the equity or equality committee. You started a public campaign to bring more attention to the women’s race. So that’s sort of your off-the-trail activity. Your on-the-trail activity really brought attention to the women’s race this year, didn’t it?

Csillag: Yes. So happy how this whole campaign went. We wanted to bring a very positive message that actually the women’s race needs attention. And we need to follow the race to be able to share the stories, the competition, and to be excited. And also just to bring more women into the trail running. So it’s like a campaign that has different goals. But we started with Western States week, and it will go up to UTMB. And it was so amazing. The first batch of the T-shirts, which had the red bold sentence here, “For the women’s race” was sold out in less than one day. And there was one girl who did a homemade T-shirt.

iRunFar: Oh, cool.

Csillag: And she went around and asked all the elite women to sign her T-shirt at the backside. So that was so inspiring to see what she did. And now we are working on the second batch. It will be available online. But really, I think just to bring more attention to the women’s race will be so good in general. Not only for the elite, but for every woman who wants to race or step up in the distance.

iRunFar: Congratulations to you on your second third-place at the 2024 Western States Endurance Run. Congratulations on your own PR. Congratulations on, I think the best way to say it is, just running with both your heart and your mind yesterday.

Csillag: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you.

Meghan Hicks

Meghan Hicks is the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar. She’s been running since she was 13 years old, and writing and editing about the sport for around 15 years. She served as iRunFar’s Managing Editor from 2013 through mid-2023, when she stepped into the role of Editor-in-Chief. Aside from iRunFar, Meghan has worked in communications and education in several of America’s national parks, was a contributing editor for Trail Runner magazine, and served as a columnist at Marathon & Beyond. She’s the co-author of Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running with Bryon Powell. She won the 2013 Marathon des Sables, finished on the podium of the Hardrock 100 Mile in 2021, and has previously set fastest known times on the Nolan’s 14 mountain running route in 2016 and 2020. Based part-time in Moab, Utah and Silverton, Colorado, Meghan also enjoys reading, biking, backpacking, and watching sunsets.