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.

Fu-Zhao Xiang Post-2024 Western States 100 Interview

A video interview with Fu-Zhao Xiang after her second-place finish at the 2024 Western States 100.

By on July 1, 2024 | Comments

Fu-Zhao Xiang took second at the 2024 Western States 100 in her debut at the race. In this interview, she talks about how she took the race out conservatively, which enabled her to race harder later, how she dealt with an injury she’s been nursing, and how she surprised herself by running similar splits to Katie Schide during the middle portion of the race.

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

Fu-Zhao Xiang Post-2024 Western States 100 Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Fu-Zhao Xiang after her second-place finish at the 2024 Western States 100. How are you?

Fu-Zhao Xiang: [speaking in English, sometimes with the assistance of a translator] I’m fine. Thank you so much. I feel very amazing.

iRunFar: That was a tremendous run out there. It was your first Western States, and you ran it like a veteran.

Xiang: This is mistaken about Western States, because last year, I’m a pacer last year. As a pacer, familiar [with] a lot of course. Of other runners, the top ten, six females came back, so last year I saw them in the race.

iRunFar: Yeah. But still, to run all 100 miles of the course, you were very smart, I thought, and you continued to move up the first half of the race. You were not slow, but maybe relaxed to start?

Xiang: Yesterday, all the way, I feel very good. Later over half. Because your first half, you have up, hard up, I will work. You have easy uphill, slowly. But in the last half, the last 30k, with the uphill, I can run.

iRunFar: You can run.

Xiang: Yeah.

iRunFar: And you felt good all day.

Xiang: Yeah. I think the last part, I feel is better than the first half. Maybe my pacer is good for me. Because we are the same, the same leg, same pace.

iRunFar: Who was your pacer?

Xiang: My pacer is Guang-Fu Meng. So I have the most strongest pacer in the race. Yeah.

iRunFar: Well, that’s amazing to feel better the whole way, because at UTMB that’s not always true, yes?

Xiang: Yeah, so I need to change my plan in UTMB this year from this race I start a lot. Yeah. In the before, I needed slow.

iRunFar: You needed to be more slow at the beginning of UTMB?

Xiang: Yes, I will. I think I can try. Maybe the result is different.

iRunFar: Yeah, that’s a good strategy. In watching you in the race, from Foresthill at 100 kilometers to the river crossing, you ran as fast as Katie [Schide]. You ran so fast. Did you feel really good for those kilometers? you Bye

Xiang: I can’t believe I run the same pace with Katie. Wow.

iRunFar: But not just Katie, I think it was very fast. Did you feel like you were going very fast?

Xiang: Yes. This part, because this is 30 kilometer, more downhill. I think I’m better, downhill is better than my uphill.

iRunFar: Yeah, and the footing, the trail is very nice. Fast.

Xiang: Yes.

iRunFar: I saw you at the river. [laughs] What happened? What went wrong?

Xiang: [laughs] Maybe I’m too short.

iRunFar: Referencing Fu-Zhao was in the river and got swept off the rope and was going down the river.

Xiang: Many, after the race, many people said, “Fu-Zhao cannot swimming?” No, I can. When I was in college, I also ran some triathlons.

iRunFar: Triathlons. So you are a good swimmer! But the river is very fast.

Xiang: Yes. Just the river’s very fast.

iRunFar: And so your pacer helped and the volunteer helped to bring you back. Was it scary?

Xiang: No, not scary, because I think I can swim in no problem. [laughs]

iRunFar: I love it. So it didn’t take the energy away.

Xiang: Oh yes. I think it did. Yeah.

iRunFar: It was not very hot, but it was hot yesterday.

Xiang: I think it was okay, because before the race I do a lot of sauna. The sauna helped for me. Yes. My coach told me you must do sauna before race.

iRunFar: Back at home at Chongqing before you came over, also very hot.

Xiang: Yes. But different.

iRunFar: Yeah. So you spent some time in the river. Was it nice to cool off?

Xiang: Yes. Because close to sunlight.

iRunFar: So you said you felt better on the second half of the race. Did you anytime think you could catch Katie?

Xiang: Never.

iRunFar: No?

Xiang: I think if I can keep was the same gap, it’s okay.

iRunFar: Yes. Same difference. In those maybe final 30 kilometers, are you at all scared of the people behind you, or do you feel strong and that you can hold your position?

Xiang: I’m not afraid, because I think I feel good and I feel easy. And so if my pacer paced faster, I also can follow him.

iRunFar: You can go faster.

Xiang: I think, yeah.

iRunFar: What was the biggest challenge or the toughest point yesterday?

Xiang: For me, because I got an injury before. Not totally recovered yet.

iRunFar: What was the injury if I may ask?

Xiang: My Achilles and my knee. Yesterday. I also feel pain in my knee sometimes. So, the knee pain started at 50k. At 50k I felt maybe I cannot finish the race. But I didn’t tell my support. I just kept it as a secret to myself. I didn’t tell anybody. Just kept trying.

iRunFar: And speaking of that, I’ve raced internationally as well, and it can be hard because you can’t talk with everybody. Were you able to run with Lin Chen some of the race?

Xiang: Yes. From 20k I saw Lin Chen in the front and she always follow me.

iRunFar: So you did not spend time together?

Xiang: From 20k, we’re always together.

iRunFar: Did you talk some?

Xiang: Lin Chen is following me, and I talked to Lin Chen: If you feel better, you can go. But we stay together.

iRunFar: So maybe you were stronger.

Xiang: I just keep my own pace when somebody is following me.

iRunFar: Do you think this was your best ultramarathon performance?

Xiang: Yes, of course. For now. I hope in the future, it will be some other race.

iRunFar: Did you not enjoy the race here?

Xiang: Yes, very enjoy.

iRunFar: Oh, you did, okay. But you want to do better.

Xiang: Yes, of course. Because I have ticket to come back.

iRunFar: You’ll come back?

Xiang: Yeah. I was very happy that I got a chance this year. So I think I will do better.

iRunFar: I know it’s one day after, but do you have anything you would do differently? Anything you learned that you would change?

Xiang: Going from this race, I must be very calm in the race, but also maybe in the first half, I need to run faster. Maybe next year.

iRunFar: And what other races will you run this year?

Xiang: UTMB. And Ninghai by UTMB.

iRunFar: Ninghai by UTMB. Well, good luck, and congratulations on a great race here. Thank you.

Xiang: Thank you so much. This is my first after-race where you interviewed me.

iRunFar: It’s my pleasure.

Xiang: You also interviewed me in Transgrancanaria.

iRunFar: Yes, I remember.

Xiang: Perhaps we can interview again.

iRunFar: Yeah. Congratulations.

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.