Katie Schide’s upward trajectory in trail ultrarunning continues with her sixth place at the 2019 UTMB. In this interview, Katie talks about how different running 100 miles is compared to shorter ultra distances, what problems she had to work through during the race, how people she ran with and saw along the course kept her spirits high, and what desserts she’ll enjoy now that she’s finished her first 100-mile race.
Be sure to read our in-depth results article to find out how the race played out.
Katie Schide Post-2019 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, I’m with Katie Schide, It’s the day after the 2019 UTMB and you took sixth place. Congratulations.
Schide: Thanks, Meghan.
iRunFar: It was a hell of run.
Schide: It was a long run yeah, definitely.
iRunFar: Okay, this was your first 100-mile race, how do you feel about it?
Schide: 100 miles is definitely not an extended 100k, it’s definitely a different race.
iRunFar: And these particular 100 miles are also not an extension of 100k.
Schide: Well my 100k thoughts are more of likes and CCC, so technically it is like kind of a direct extension, but I think I learned more about what 100 miles and being out for more than 24 hours feels like.
iRunFar: And how exactly does that feel?
Schide: Honestly, it felt better towards the end than at the beginning for me. But yeah, I think it requires a lot more mental strength than I realized.
iRunFar: And did you find yourself with the mental strength needed to do this?
Schide: Yeah, it came in waves, but I guess the net amount was enough to get me to the finish line. I also had some really great crew and also realized that I know a lot of people around here and I was really cool to see so many familiar faces and hug a lot of people and cry a little bit to a few people. But yeah, happy to make it back to Chamonix.
iRunFar: Backing up to the big picture just a little bit you seem to be sort of on this train of increasing your distance, moving up from CCC to UTMB, moving up from the 85k at Madeira [Island Ultra-Trail] to the big one. Are you just trying to experiment with this longer stuff or what’s the impetus for it?
Schide: I think we’ve reached the peak.
iRunFar: No 200-mile races in your future?
Schide: I won’t be here for Tor des Geants but yeah –
iRunFar: We’ve reached the peak.
Schide: Plateau, I don’t know. I think I really did always, I’ve always been thinking about UTMB, and Germain and I both approach running like not trying to do everything at once so we were purposely taking steps to get here, not to sign up for UTMB right when I decided I really liked ultrarunning. So I think this will be the longest I go for a while, but I’m excited to maybe not in this moment excited to try more but see what other races are out there and what I want to do.
iRunFar: Probably in this moment you are probably excited to take up extended espresso drinking.
Schide: Yeah and some pizza and some bakery time.
iRunFar: Let’s talk about the race a little bit. I think the women’s race went out pretty hot, what do you think?
Schide: I would completely agree with you, it went out really fast. I had a nice spot on the starting line rate in the front so I started in front of everyone. I ran with Xavier [Thévenard] for a few meters and realized that I was running too fast, but it’s kind of hard to slow down at the beginning, because there are so many people cheering and yelling at you and you’re just so full of excitement it’s hard to be like, okay this is still part of the race. In general, I think the women went out really fast, but I knew that I was going to happen, because Miao [Yao] always goes out fast and Courtney [Dauwalter] is also really fast. I don’t think, she clearly doesn’t go out above her level because she does well but yeah, she’s a really strong runner so he knew that everyone would be pushing to stay with them and yeah.
iRunFar: So there was a bit of rain and thunder and stuff on the start line and in that first kilometers, but overall it was pretty warm and a lot of people commented about the humidity in the night. How are the conditions for you?
Schide: Yeah, I think it was definitely humid. It was pretty hot around midday, I think. I was near Champex-Lac ,but I had my crew Hudson like, ice and I was putting a lot of water in myself so that was fine. Better than when we were here for the 90k and it was hotter than Western States, so I was actually, that was fine. But yeah it’s definitely a hot race, not so much rain. I could’ve gone for some rain in the middle.
iRunFar: Now, I think this race is really interesting, because half of it takes place in the dark and you’re kind of out in some pretty remote retain. There’s not a lot of civilization out there. you don’t really get to see your crew for a long time. Can you talk about the night?
Schide: Yeah from, let’s see from St. Gervais to Courmayeur, it’s really long. I guess you see the crew in [Les] Contamines, but between Contamines and Courmayeur it’s many hours.
iRunFar: Like five or six hours of running.
Schide: More. Going by my pace it’s more than that, almost 7 hours I think. And this year we did the extra climb to the Pyramides, which makes the race even longer than normal. So it’s a long time to be without friends, but I was really lucky I was feeling really bad and I was trying to problem solve in my head what to do and, then, I ran into Beth Pascal had an aid station and was lucky to tag along with her for a while and chat a little bit and it helped a lot. I was really not feeling so motivated until a couple hours with her.
iRunFar: Interesting, so do you know what happened and what you were able to solve?
Schide: I think I was just kind of, I get really tired at night and I really don’t like running at night.
iRunFar: You said the same thing after Madeira, too.
Schide: Yeah, it’s not my thing. I guess maybe I should only train at night from now on and that could help.
iRunFar: Or run 30ks.
Schide: Maybe I’ll train more. I think I just get really tired and I lose motivation at night. But yeah, Madeira I was running with Audrey [Tanguay] and here I felt like I had a similar thing with Beth, not quite as long but I was lucky to find her.
iRunFar: The transition between the first half of the race and the second half of the race, time wise, distance wise happens as the sun comes up, as you are on this big long gorgeous ridgeline in the Alps. It has to be one of the more spectacular views along the UTMB course. Is there some extra inspiration that is offered by that given that you are 100k into a pretty tough experienced?
Schide: Yeah ,it’s definitely really beautiful in that part in Italy. I honestly was not feeling great there.
iRunFar: Oh, there were mountains?
Schide: Well I’ve seen that part in the daylight before luckily so I don’t feel like I missed it. Again, I saw more people I knew. I saw a friend who passed me looking really strong and was really proud of him. Then, I saw Martina [Valmassoi] and Hillary [Gerardi] and they were chatting with me a bunch and that helped a lot. I think for me the turning point was more like after La Fouly. I was able to eat some noodles, which was a game changer and that help me feel a lot better.
iRunFar: You might’ve been one of the only frontrunners successfully getting food in in La Fouly.
Schide: Not in La Fouly, in Champex-Lac. I had a cup of broth. I did have three cookies so.
iRunFar: Not bad.
Schide: That was a force feed, yeah.
iRunFar: I feel like I saw a lot of things coming out in that area, not going into people’s bodies.
Schide: I did not actually lose anything during the race, so that’s good.
iRunFar: Going into the new and unfamiliar distance for you past Champex-Lac, if you had to rate it, where would you put the physicality of it versus the psychology of it?
Schide: I think they’re both related, for me it was realizing how much of these longer distances are not – it’s not like a cardio thing. It was really just my muscles and being able to control your body is also very mental. So yeah, both of those things are linked and I think at the end I had heard that Rory [Bosio] wasn’t too far from me and that made me go a lot faster at the end because I was like, okay I’ve already gone through so much, I just want to finish like this and I was honestly like secretly like a little bit happy she was kind of close, because if nobody was close, I think it would’ve taken me a long time to get to the end.
iRunFar: You would have taken your sweet time and this made you push?
Schide: Yeah, it made the end go by faster.
iRunFar: You are at this point sort of an expert in mountain trail running and ultra running here in Europe, but there just seems to be, to me there seems to be something different about UTMB. More people, more fans, more fanaticism, what does this race feel like for you compared to some of the others around here?
Schide: I think UTMB, it’s not just a race it’s like an enormous event. It’s like the sate fair, but for running. When I think of UTMB, I don’t just think, the racecourse, it’s like there’s tons of Americans here, which is really fun.
iRunFar: We all show up all of a sudden.
Schide: Yeah, everyone’s here all of a sudden. It’s just Chamonix is a crazy place. I mean it’s always a crazy place, but at this time it’s even crazier and it just brings so many people and if you get to see so many people I feel like I saw like – I feel like I saw everyone I know yesterday but I know that’s not true.
iRunFar: It sounds like that ended up being really important to you as like all of the community vibes and people vibes you were getting.
Schide: Yeah, I feel really lucky because Germain [Grangier] is French, so people kind of know me through him and so it’s getting a lot of people cheering for me that maybe I don’t actually know but kind of knew who I was. That even just hearing someone yell your name in the middle of the night, that’s like really helpful.
iRunFar: Shout out to Germain because he finished top 10, as well. Congratulations. You both pretty much stormed this race.
Schide: Yeah, I was really happy for him and really excited to hear how well he was doing during my race I think it definitely help me push a little bit.
iRunFar: Last question for you, 100 miles, do you think this sort of thing, are you going to do it again? Do you want to return, if so do you want to return to UTMB, is this just a way of seeing more terrain? What now in 100 miles?
Schide: Now, I’m going to rest for a long time.
iRunFar: No one hundred miles.
Schide: So at the beginning Courtney said, when we were running together at the beginning said, okay to use your first hundred miler and I was like yeah. And she said, oh you’re going to love it. And I was cursing her – at Courmayeur, ugh I’m going to love it, this is horrible. But yeah, it was fun and I think I need to find another one where I can have more experience going in and really love it a bit more and I’m excited to get to that point.
iRunFar: Well, it sounded like you tolerated UTMB it very well.
Schide: It was enjoyable in retrospect.
iRunFar: What do they call that like type?
Schide: Type two fun.
iRunFar: Type one fun, yeah.
Schide: There was a few moments of type one, but yeah. Mostly just prior to finish and be here with everyone.
iRunFar: Awesome. Congratulations to you on your sixth-place finish I hope that means at least six pastries.
Schide: Yeah, I think time six.
iRunFar: Well done.