After two previous top-10 performances, Katie Schide, an American who lives in France, ran away from the rest of the field to win the 2022 UTMB. In the following interview, Katie talks about how she ran by feel rather than by time throughout the race, the early hours of pulling away from the rest of the women, her low patch at around 100 kilometers in and how she recovered from it, and what it felt like to finish first at a race as big as UTMB.
For more on how this year’s UTMB unfolded, read our 2022 UTMB results article.
Katie Schide, 2022 UTMB Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Katie Schide. It’s the day after the 2022 UTMB and you are the champion.
Katie Schide: Thanks, Meghan. Yeah.
iRunFar: How is that sinking in?
Schide: I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. I’m still just like, trying to clean out all my dirty stuff from my crew bag and wash flasks and stuff, so.
iRunFar: You have two previous top tens here, a sixth place and a seventh place. Both of those finishes were in the 27-hour range. You blew that stuff out of the water by winning and running 23:15 yesterday. Did you expect that out of yourself?
Schide: Yeah, I was sixth and eighth in the past.
iRunFar: Sixth and eighth. Sorry.
Schide: But yeah, the 23:00 was definitely, I was a bit surprised by that time. I knew that I could do faster than 27:00 because both of those finishes were really just, for me they were just finishes. I didn’t really feel like I had shown my best. I had, my splits were more set up for around 25:00, 25:30. I wanted to give myself kind of a margin I felt confident with but not too crazy. And yeah, those splits went out the window. Well I didn’t, I wasn’t really looking at splits but I mean, the timing for my crew of like, did not match what I did at all.
iRunFar: You took it out pretty hot. I mean, full stop there?
Schide: I would agree.
iRunFar: I think you were only five or five and a half minutes behind the lead men at Saint Gervais and already five minutes up on all the other women.
Schide: Okay, but I didn’t know that.
iRunFar: [laughs] But you must have felt just good, just floating around or?
Schide: Yeah, I told myself like from the start, just run how you feel. Because I think in the past, I’ve tried to run slower and I just felt like it was a chance to just run purely by feel and not try to hold myself back. And so I said just if I feel good, I’ll run fast. I’ll run fast and if I don’t feel good, just be okay with it and go slower.
iRunFar: So how was it there in the night? I mean, you were kind of by yourself in front of all the women mixed up with the men for quite some time. I don’t think you saw another woman until after Courmayeur when Marianne [Hogan] came upon you.
Schide: Yeah, I was running with some guys. Well, I was actually running with Gautier [Airiau] for a while, who’s a French runner for Scott who I know from just like the French running crew. So, it was kind of nice to like run with somebody I sort of knew. And yeah, there were other guys around who I sort of knew. I ran with Andy Symonds for a while, which was really fun to run with those two guys. So yeah, I had some company with guys but I also didn’t really try to stick with anyone. I kind of just like wanted to really just go by how I was feeling.
iRunFar: And I think you had some sort of low patch or a couple of low patches, was it after Courmayeur?
Schide: Yeah, I had one big low patch and it was around Arnouvaz. Like coming into Arnouvaz. I didn’t feel that great, but I kept telling myself like, remember how bad you felt the last few times we were here. Like I was walking that entire runnable like traverse section where you should really be running.
Schide: And this year I was running I was like, “You’re doing just so much better than the past two years. It doesn’t matter. Just like keep moving like that.” And then I had a little puke party at Arnouvaz.
iRunFar: At Arnouvaz.
Schide: Yeah, a guy I know Séb Camus was there and he was standing there cheering and he saw me puking and was like, just kind of, it just kind of reassured me to have someone there who wasn’t, who didn’t freak out because I was kind of freaking out because I’ve never puked in a race before.
iRunFar: Oh, that was your first!
iRunFar: Oh my gosh.
Schide: Yeah, but it’s because I drink a bunch of Coke that was like, too carbonated.
Schide: Yeah. But um, yeah, he was there and was just really calm. Just told me like, “You need to put on your jacket now. It’s really cold. It’s going to be cold up there.”
Schide: So I put on my jacket and just like went. But I was still really not feeling good. And that’s when Marianne came up behind me and I saw her looking good. So I was like, okay, she’s going to pass me here. It’s okay. I’m having a bad moment. And you have to just kind of let that happen.
iRunFar: How did you, because you recovered so well from it. I think I saw you at Champex-Lac. So that’s 20 kilometers after Grand Col Ferret? And you seem perfectly recovered by then. Were you?
Schide: Yeah, something. I was honestly like, not in a good state at Col Ferret.
Schide: And was, yeah, had some bad moments in that descent. But my biggest goal for this race was to finish in daylight. And that was like what I told myself at the beginning was like, okay, my goal is to finish in the daylight. Whatever else happens, that’s the goal. So even when I was going down Col Ferret, I was like, “Okay, this is terrible. But I’m so far ahead of schedule, I can probably still finish in the daylight. So like, that’s the goal. Nothing else matters. I want to finish in the daylight.”
And I got to the bottom and the guys who were following me in the film crew were there, who were like good friends of mine. And they were just being like silly. Doing things with the cameras and it was making me laugh and somehow I forgot about everything. Grabbed a cheese sandwich in La Fouly. Then I saw you and felt way better.
iRunFar: Saved by the cheese sandwich.
Schide: Yeah, it was really magical. I think my stomach just like needed a real thing. Yeah.
iRunFar: Do you think it was actually the cheese sandwich? Or do you think it was like being distracted from a low patch that allowed you to bounce out of it? I mean, I realize it just happened not so long ago but yeah. It’s just the reason why I ask is because it’s, it can be a difficult thing to get out of, like sort of late in an ultra where you’re like, “I was doing so well and now I’m not.” And just curious how you bounced out?
Schide: Yeah, I think it was both. Because I hadn’t been able to eat for a while and I honestly was just letting myself not eat because I knew that the sugar was making my stomach really sick. And so yeah, seeing people like it’s … I had a friend from home who hiked all the way into Grand Col Ferret. Like she must have gone up in the middle of the night to wait for me there.
Schide: So seeing her, seeing people who were there out on the course, like finally getting some real food in also then see more people cheering in La Fouly, it was kind of just all at the right time when I needed it.
iRunFar: Aw. You resumed the lead. Marianne was behind you. What did the mentality become then? Like, was it protect the lead at all costs? Keep yourself together? Start celebrating at any point? Or yeah, where were things at after that?
Schide: Yeah, when I caught up with her, I can do the math in my head. I knew how much time she had on me and I knew I’d made up that much time. So I knew I don’t need to do anything crazy. I just like, keep doing exactly what I’m doing. And if she somehow like has amazing feelings and passes me it’s like that. But otherwise, yeah, I just told myself “Okay, just keep moving like we’re moving.” Like, I didn’t need to take any risks because there was no reason to take a risk. And yeah, just like felt, kept keeping it like relaxed but pushing.
iRunFar: There is no other finish line in trail and ultrarunning at this point than this finish line. I mean, it’s like a 1.5-kilometer finish line. What was it like for you?
Schide: It’s still like a bit unreal. Yeah, it’s, I think the hard part was that I really wished, like I wanted so badly to just get to the end so I could sit down.
Schide: But I also really want to take the time to see people because I knew there were so many people that I knew just standing there on the sideline, like on the side cheering. Like I saw Audrey Tanguy like she, she wasn’t able to finish the race. But she still came to watch me finish. It was, I wish I could have like stopped and hugged her for a long time and like, but that would take me another hour to get through all the people.
Schide: It’s just really nice to see. Even the people I didn’t see eye to eye, I know that they were there and it’s like, today that feels really, really cool.
iRunFar: Aw. I think that’s a great way to leave this. Congratulations on your win of the 2022 UTMB, Katie.