Kaci Lickteig was recently injured, but she’s healthy enough now to run the 2021 Western States 100. In the following interview, recorded during a thunderstorm, Kaci talks about what her recent months of injury and recovery were like, whether she thinks she’ll be competitive given her unique training this spring, and what she’s looking forward to about race weekend.
Kaci Lickteig Pre-2021 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, I’m with Kaci Lickteig. It’s a couple days before the 2021 Western States 100. Were kind of weathering the storm to do this interview. Is this a weird welcoming to Olympic Valley?
Kaci Lickteig: It’s by far the most epic I’ve had. Lightning, thunder, rain. It’s kind of cool.
iRunFar: We were standing under overhangs waiting for the storm to finish to do this interview.
Lickteig: Yeah, just right over there.
iRunFar: Yeah, it’s funny, we’ve interviewed you in the spot a lot of times and you said something that really hit me on social media the other day of, you’ve lined up at this race multiple times, you’ve train for this race multiple times, and every time it’s a different experience. Where’s your head today, right this moment?
Lickteig: Making sure there’s no lightning around, for real.
iRunFar: Yeah, we are under a big tree, FYI.
Lickteig: Yeah, I’m excited. I’m so grateful to be here, every year is a blessing. I had a really rough start for this year, so just standing right here, right now is everything to me because I didn’t think I was going to be earlier.
iRunFar: You’ve talked a little bit about your injury on social media, but can you sort of layout what that looked like in your recovery?
Lickteig: Yeah, it came on suddenly, it was the most horrific nerve pain I’ve ever had in my leg. I literally was unable to run for a couple months and I still don’t know exactly what it is, but I’m able to run through it so it’s not anything that’s damaging my leg. So I don’t know.
iRunFar: Still trying to work through it but the pain is less? Or there is no pain or where are we at pain wise?
Lickteig: Hit and miss. It’s there every day, but it’s nothing that… I can work with it you know? It is what it is.
iRunFar: It just is what it is.
Lickteig: Yes – Mother Nature.
iRunFar: Mother Nature would like to be part of this interview, too. Yet every year we do this, there are some things that are different but there are also some things that are the same. And it seems like that you’re kind of a family person, you come back for the Western States family. We had a break from it, it’s been two years since we’ve done this, who do you want to see? What things do you want to do? What are you looking forward to in the Western States family and course this weekend?
Lickteig: Everything. I got a little taste of it at training camp, which was remarkable. It was like getting out to see everybody again after a year. Being on the trail again, the community that we have is just remarkable, it’s one-of-a-kind. The people at the aid stations – I just love everybody that’s there. Getting to see Craig. I can’t wait to be on the Auburn track, listening to John yell over the intercom. Everything about this is just, it’s everything to me.
iRunFar: You’re a family person, but you’re also a competitor. You have performed time and time again at this race. Objectively, given where you’ve been this spring and given that your last performance was a third-place, where do you think you are for 2021?
Lickteig: I’ve been thinking a lot about that, because my buildup obviously has not been one that I’ve been used to. I had a short, short span of training and you know, I thankfully know the course, I know my body, I know what it takes to do well and what it takes to not blow up, so as long as I can help myself manage and just be kind of like a steam engine and just keep rolling. That’s all I’m going to try to do. Enjoy the experience always.
iRunFar: I like the steam train metaphor; just don’t stop, keep the momentum.
iRunFar: Have them take you over the crest of the canyons and into the next one.
Lickteig: That’s right, just keep trucking.
iRunFar: I have memories, or rather the iRunFar family has memories of you having a bit of a run in from the finish one year where things sort of weren’t going great for you there at the river. But you got yourself back together, you made it to the finish and then you celebrated. Have you thought through that maybe that’s also a possibility this year, or? Yeah, something off of what your absolute potential is here? That was a really poorly asked question, I’m sorry.
Lickteig: Nope, I get it. I’m ready for anything, truly. I’ve set myself up to do the best I can and just manage myself. If that takes me 30 hours, it takes me 30 hours.
iRunFar: It’s not going to take you 30 hours.
Lickteig: Will you never know, you never know what can happen and I applaud anybody that will continue and finish, because that’s what this is about, it’s never a place to me it’s always been a part of this. So if it’s first to last, it doesn’t matter.
iRunFar: As long as your body allows you.
Lickteig: Correct. Always be smart about that but you know, anything can happen on the day, just know yourself, know your limits.
iRunFar: Being a 10-time finisher of Western States was a more common thing in the past, when it was easier to get in the race and things like that. Are you aiming to be a 10-time finisher of the race?
Lickteig: That is my hugest goal in life right now. Yes. So I want the thousand mile buckle so bad, it’s been in my list of – the top of my list since I started this race.
iRunFar: Amazing. So in that vein, the finish is even more meaningful, memorable, important for that longer-term goal?
Lickteig: Exactly. So to me, yes I would love to be top 10 so I don’t have to race myself back into it again but given the circumstances, finishing as the number one goal so however that plays out.
iRunFar: Well best of luck to you. I know I for one am really excited about the women’s race this year, this is going to be a show.
Lickteig: It’s going to be on fire. It’s going to be awesome, I can’t wait to see it unfold either.
iRunFar: And be right in the middle of it.
Lickteig: Hopefully, yes.
iRunFar: Good luck Kaci.
Lickteig: Thank you so much.
iRunFar: Yay, it didn’t storm on us.
iRunFar: I do like that we did that right under – the largest tree in the valley.