Katie Asmuth made herself known on a big stage in taking fifth at this year’s Western States 100. In the following interview, Katie talks about how she came to running later in life, what was going through her head as she ran in second a few minutes off the lead after mid-race, and why she carried such a positive attitude through and after the race.
Be sure to read our results article for the full race story and for links to other post-race interviews.
Katie Asmuth Post-2021 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar, I’m with Katie Asmuth after her fifth-place finish at the 2021 Western States 100. How are you Katie?
Katie Asmuth: A little sore.
iRunFar: Why is that?
Asmuth: Yeah, I’m stoked, I think I’m pretty high on life right now.
iRunFar: Before we dive too much into your race, I want to know a little bit about you, where you live? What do you do? What is your life’s like?
Asmuth: Yeah, so I’m a mom of two boys, I have a six year old and a four year old and I’m a nurse practitioner and we currently live in Mammoth Lakes, California. We recently moved there. I’m from LA.
iRunFar: So you’re from California originally, but live on the east side now?
Asmuth: Yes, yes.
iRunFar: Was a nice having that familiarity with at least the style of trail and setting that you would see this weekend?
Asmuth: Yeah, I’d say so. In the water crossings and all that, we don’t get that as much in Southern California, in the Santa Monica Mountains, more in the San Gab’s. So I think, I felt comfortable on the trail in that way.
iRunFar: Tell me a little bit about your running history. How long have you been a runner, what got you into it?
Asmuth: I’m a late bloomer, I started running in 2015 or 2014. I guess we were on our honeymoon in New Zealand and we just wanted to conquer more territory and we’re like, we might as well run and then shortly after that I had my first kid and my husband’s training for an Ironman and I was like, you get to go out for six hours and bike and I’m like, well I want to get out, I’m going to give birth to this baby and I’m not gonna have an excuse. He’s like, well sign up for something. So I worked my way up, I did a 50k distance and the 50 miler and ran my first 100, Angeles Crest 100 in 2018, and then, I’ve done three other one hundred [miler]s so this would be my fourth 100.
iRunFar: And you’ve had successes at those other 100 milers, you ran your way in [to the 2021 Western States 100] at Bandera 100k. But yesterday still seems like a big step up in terms of performance, was it for you?
Asmuth: I mean in the sense that this is the most competitive, by far, race of my life and I hope it’s not the last. It won’t be the last, I plan on being back next year, but, yeah, this was a big step, this was a dream come true. Most of us trail runners, ultrarunners want to be here and so for me to be able to get a golden ticket my first attempt was pretty exciting. So I came into this race very, feeling really good, super confident and in a really good, emotional, physical place and I’m just really happy to be here and wanted to perform and compete and was feeling that way. I will say that there still some work to be done, and I think I can come back stronger actually.
iRunFar: In mid-race, you’re in third place, what’s going through your head at that point?
Asmuth: Well, I was like two minutes from second right, and actually right after Foresthill, I passed second place and was like, such a pinch-me moment and I was four minutes from the first or whatever. That was from Beth [Pascall] and it was just like, that was so cool. I will say running into Foresthill was, I might start crying, but that was a really powerful moment for me and my whole family was there and tons of family friends and people from work, from LA. It just was a really incredible thing to have that energy and then to come in and then pass second, it was just a really incredible moment. Running with my coach and he’s giving me the pump up in Foresthill.
iRunFar: That wasn’t David [Roche] was it?
Asmuth: Yeah, yeah. I will always remember that moment.
iRunFar: There’s a lot of emotion at that moment. Is there too much emotion in that moment?
Asmuth: I don’t know, in the stuff you take what you get so those highs, you’ve got a ride them because you’re not always going to get the highs. Yeah, I really kind of see that energy and had a really big push out of Foresthill and then slowly declined after that, but that’s okay. I mean I’m really proud of my–what I put out there. I really put it all on the course, I think I never really did great with my–I did fantastic, I was on top of heat all day, started right in the beginning at Duncan, starting with the ice protocol, ice in your groin, ice in your shirt, ice on the arms.
iRunFar: Everything that can cool you off, as fast as you can.
Asmuth: I tried the hat that was trying to cover me all day. I tried everything and still my core temp was just really high, could never get cool in there. So I’m really proud of how I finished and that I never totally lost it and that I was able to hold on.
iRunFar: Did you have any… there’s ups and downs, but did you have any really low points along the way?
Asmuth: You don’t let yourself get there, but around mile 30 in most of my races I have a little bit of a low and I kind of expect it. I don’t know what it is, if I need to dial in my nutrition better or what, but I had that but I was okay. I knew that time I always have a low, so I think the experience of previous hundreds was helpful in being able to stay calm and not blow up. I just slowed down at that point.
iRunFar: A lot of the places along the course and at the finish you just had this tremendous positive energy and not just inward, you’re sharing it. Where does that come from?
Asmuth: I’m so stoked to be here, this whole… I really, I’m not planning on being a visitor to the sport, this is something I really care about and I plan on just being a part of this community always for the rest of my life and I’m just really grateful that I found something I love so late in life.
iRunFar: You have anything else on your calendar this year to enjoy that?
Asmuth: Big plans, we’ll see what happens. We’ll see, I don’t want to make any promises, but, yes, I’m making some big plans.
iRunFar: Right on. Probably nothing in the next week or two right?
Asmuth: Yeah, I’m going to chill for a little while.
iRunFar: How do you relax after a big race?
Asmuth: There’s a whole lot of teamwork that goes into the parenting side where my husband will need to take over for week or so, where I’ll try and stay mobile but slow.
iRunFar: And then maybe he’ll get a little time out, a little extra time outdoors after that?
Asmuth: Yeah, he’s training for his first 100k. He’s so pumped. He running his first 100k, I’m going to pace him at Waldo 100k.
iRunFar: So that’s on your calendar for the summer?
Asmuth: Yeah, that’s definitely on my calendar, yeah. We’re into this.
iRunFar: Congratulations and great run out there.
Asmuth: Thank you, thanks for chatting.
iRunFar: In one bonus question for Katie, a lot of people aren’t as familiar with Saucony’s current trail running line, what did you run in this weekend?
Asmuth: So I actually, they made me a shoe. It was a mix of the Endorphin Speed and the Canyon TR outsole. I don’t know if they want me to talk about that, but I was just going for like the lightest possible shoe with some tread. But the Endorphin Trail is the one I’m really, really pumped for.
iRunFar: That’s coming along. It sounds like an Endorphin Trail, but that’s not here yet for you.
Asmuth: I was planning on running it to be honest, I didn’t receive it in time to really train for many miles in it and my prototypes that I’ve had for a while had built the shoe essentially. So the Endorphin Trail, if I had had more miles on the shoe I would have probably ended up running it but I just went with what I trusted because I had so many miles.
iRunFar: So good traction, light, breathable upper.
Asmuth: But I’m really into the Endorphin Trail; it’s sweet. It’s really kind of… for me when I first looked at it I thought it was a little bit of a higher stack, might be a little bit off kilter when you’re running on trails, but not at all. Your foot sits into the shoe and it’s got this, the Endorphin, I mean it’s like that foam is incredible, you kind of balance with it. So there’s no played in it yet but that’s, I can’t talk too much…
iRunFar: Well, now I’m looking forward to getting a pair next month.
Asmuth: Saucony, their trail strategy and their trail department is amazing and about to just explode so I’m really proud to be a part of that.
iRunFar: We’ll keep our eyes open for that, thank you.