For the second year in a row, Ida Nilsson won The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships. In the following interview, Ida talks about how the early race played out with she and Renee Metivier running off the front, the late-race challenges she experienced with her body and the competition, if this is the end of her 2017 season, and a certain American 100-mile race she has her eye on for next year.
For more on the race, check out our in-depth results article.
Ida Nilsson, 2017 The North Face 50 Mile Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here with Ida Nilsson. She’s the winner of the 2017 The North Face 50 Mile Endurance Challenge Championships. Two for two, Ida! Two times the TNF 50 Champion. Did you know going into the race, did you kind of have a feeling you were going to have a good day?
Ida Nilsson: I felt that I recovered quite quickly from Les Templiers, and then I had some good weeks in Flagstaff. So, it felt fine running. It was also nice to be in Flagstaff and do some faster running. That suits this course. I felt okay coming in.
iRunFar: Did you just come straight to America after the finish of Les Templiers and stayed in Flagstaff the whole time?
Nilsson: Yes, I did.
iRunFar: And trained on some of the hard-packed style trails that you see here?
iRunFar: Which is the same thing you did last year?
Nilsson: No, last year I went skiing before this. That was totally different. I had a ski-training camp before this. It felt a little bit better in the legs to have a running camp before.
iRunFar: Talk about how the race played out today. I think Renee Metivier set the pace for the first part of the race?
Nilsson: Yes, she did. I also like to run fast. I thought it was good to follow. I knew it was her first ultra, but still, I didn’t blow up my first ultra. I don’t think you can expect people to do that. I thought it was good to follow because if you give her a gap, maybe she’d run strong the whole time, and that is stupid. So I felt it was nice to keep the pace and be running quite fast the first 40k.
iRunFar: Were the two of you running together, or were you sort of marking her from behind? How was that dynamic?
Nilsson: We were running together and also Anne-Lise [Rousset], but then I had to stop and go to the bathroom. Then she got a little bit of a gap. Then there was kind of that gap for a long time—the long hill and the switchbacks. Then I caught up in the woods down to Stinson Beach.
iRunFar: The two of you were neck and neck at Stinson Beach together. After Stinson Beach it’s a heck of a climb to get back up to Cardiac. How did that go?
Nilsson: I got a big gap easy there. I started to climb, and then I just kept going. I was surprised because she felt easy, we were talking, and she didn’t look like she was hurting.
iRunFar: At that point, at least from the observer’s point of view, you were at every time check gaining minutes on the rest of the field. Did you have any feedback on what was going behind you?
Nilsson: No, I didn’t know actually. Then I heard from Clare Gallagher now when she finished that she was quite close for awhile.
iRunFar: She was gaining in those last seven or eight miles.
Nilsson: Yeah, like one minute, and then I got a little bit more. I started to feel really beat up in those downhills at Tennessee Valley. That one is just brutal. I was starting to feel that pace in the beginning, and the legs were a little bit screwed.
iRunFar: New course this year—some of the same trails but in a different order, and then a totally new ending the last four miles. How did the course feel to you?
Nilsson: I think it was good. It’s a lot the same in the beginning—you run dirt roads and then you have this nice part in the forest which I like the most. I think the back and forth isn’t the nicest part, so it doesn’t matter too much, and you meet people. Then the trail to get to the bridge was really nice—singletrack and you see the bridge in the distance. That was better than just going down on a fire road to the finish like last year. Yeah, it feels nicer, I think.
iRunFar: How did you feel about the bridge? What was it like coming across the bridge?
Nilsson: Actually it was better than expected. It wasn’t that crowded. You had to go around a few times, but I think you could run quite undisturbed actually.
iRunFar: As we were walking down here to do this interview, you were talking about how nice the finish was at Crissy Field with the Bay and a good place to hang out.
Nilsson: Yeah, I think it’s a better thing. It makes it nicer.
iRunFar: Does this mark the end of your running season for the year?
Nilsson: Yes, no more racing.
iRunFar: Are you going to sit this winter? What are your plans?
Nilsson: Yes, I will have a week vacation now, and then I start skiing.
iRunFar: What will you do for vacation?
Nilsson: I go to Hawaii.
iRunFar: Oh, so a real vacation.
Nilsson: Yes, a real one on a beach actually.
iRunFar: Fantastic. Then 2018, have you set your sites on any races yet?
Nilsson: Yes, I’ve done that right now… yesterday. It will be interesting. It will be some challenges.
iRunFar: Any clues you are willing to share?
Nilsson: Nothing secret. I’m going to try to do Western States next year. That will be very interesting.
iRunFar: So you’ll come to America and do a qualifying race or try to get an entry through the Ultra-Trail World Tour? How will you try to get an entry?
Nilsson: I will see. I haven’t really… because I just decided. Maybe I need to do a Golden Ticket race, or maybe… we’ll see.
iRunFar: So you’re going to bust out into the 100-mile distance and go big with America’s 100 miler? Wow!
iRunFar: Will you return to Transvulcania in the spring?
Nilsson: Yes, I will.
iRunFar: Anything else on your spring agenda?
Nilsson: Maybe Zegama also.
iRunFar: Back-to-back couple weeks in Spain?
Nilsson: Yes, and then Western.
iRunFar: Yeah, and then get ready for Western. Wow, this is going to be an interesting 2018 for you.
Nilsson: Yeah, it will.
iRunFar: Well, congrats on your win today. Enjoy your vacation in Hawaii. Enjoy the beer tent.
Nilsson: Thank you. Thank you. I will.