The American living in France Katie Schide returns UTMB after finishing sixth in 2019. In the following interview, Katie talks about what brings her back to UTMB, how she used the Lavaredo Ultra Trail as a runnable race to prepare for racing UTMB, and whether she thinks she can improve upon her performance at the 2019 UTMB.
Check out our women’s and men’s previews before following our UTMB live coverage starting on Friday.
Katie Schide Pre-2021 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Katie Schide before the 2021 UTMB. How are you?
Katie Schide: I’m good, Bryon. How are you?
iRunFar: Alright. We were just chatting how you live in France but it’s not a short drive.
Schide: No, it’s anywhere from four and a half to six hours in the summer depending on the tunnel traffic to go under the Mont Blanc.
iRunFar: So when did you actually arrive here in Chamonix?
Schide: We arrived yesterday evening.
iRunFar: So you just make a short trip of it.
Schide: Yeah, try to minimize the Chamonix time around UTMB and maybe enjoy more when we have a bit more relaxing time to enjoy the mountains.
iRunFar: Totally. But you do train in the French Alps, so this terrain is all familiar to you?
Schide: Yeah, I train in the French Alps, but more in the Maritime Alps, which is a bit south of here so a bit different. It’s still the Alps, but it is a bit different weather, a bit different landscape.
iRunFar: So it actually feels a little unique being up here?
Schide: Yeah, definitely. We don’t have glaciers in our part of the Alps. So just having some glaciers here is exciting.
iRunFar: Nice. So what, you ran in 2019, what brings you back to UTMB?
Schide: Wow. What a question. Man, there’s a lot of things that bring us back to UTMB. I mean I think first it’s the level of competition. It’s the place to be. If you want to race all the best in the world, this is, Chamonix’s the place to be at the end of August.
iRunFar: Totally. And you did pretty well against that great competition two years ago. You were sixth. How can you improve upon that, or do you think you can?
Schide: [laughs] I think, speaking only about the places, it’s really hard to make judgments on that because it really depends on who else shows up.
iRunFar: For sure.
Schide: That’s not something I can control. I can improve my time. Which, if we keep the same course this year, I can actually sort of compare if the weather is similar. So in terms of improving my time and my experience, I think it’s mostly just years of consistent running and training.
iRunFar: Have you found you’ve learned things to help you on these longer ultras over the past couple years?
Schide: Since the last UTMB I guess I’ve only done two, like, what the French would call an ultra which they like to start defining ultra at like 100k.
Schide: So yeah, I mean, still two ultras is quite a bit but in terms of what I’d hoped for it’s a bit less.
Schide: So I think from those years you just learn how you feel, how to manage how you’re feeling and how to come back ready to feel better.
iRunFar: Well you must have felt pretty good a couple months ago when you took second at Lavaredo. How did that race go for you?
Schide: That was an interesting race. So my partner Germain [Grangier] who’s also racing UTMB, that’s when I speak of we that’s who I’m talking about. We kind of targeted Lavaredo two years ago, which obviously changed to this year, because it is a lot more runnable than most of the ultras we typically sign up for. And it provided that runnability, which was a challenge but also something we had trained for, or were focusing on. So that was a challenge for me was trying to stay in the running game pretty late in the race, which didn’t quite work out for me towards the end.
Schide: But I think the biggest takeaway from Lavaredo was just like being back in the competitive mindset, being back to managing a race, managing, like those low points later in the race and how to get through that and yeah. So I think from that I, I took some, some lessons.
iRunFar: I guess it was probably easy for you to transition into the more mountainous training after that. Not really a hardship?
Schide: Yeah, I mean the reason we wanted to do more runnable stuff is because UTMB is objectively pretty runnable. It’s not actually that steep. There is one climb at the end that’s steep. I would say the last three climbs are relatively steep but it’s, it’s pretty runnable. The trails are pretty clear. If you think about the number of people walking on these trails every summer, it’s not, this isn’t any mountaineering we’re doing here. [laughs] So I’m hoping that that like kind of focus on speed and more runnable trails will like help translate a bit here. It’s a bit longer, so it’s different still.
iRunFar: You still have that, that hiking strength.
Schide: Yeah. Hiking is something I don’t think I’ll lose. I shouldn’t jinx myself but yeah, hiking is something I really like, and I feel like I’m pretty good at, but we’ll see. It can always change.
iRunFar: You had a good, quick tune up a couple of weeks ago.
Schide: [laughs] Yeah. Quick.
iRunFar: In context of Lavaredo and UTMB.
Schide: I was trying to think of what was that. Yes, Sierre-Zinal. Yeah. Sierre-Zinal. That was very quick. I wasn’t quite ready to take on that like impact of speed but it was fun and it’s an event I’ve always wanted to be part of so I was really happy to have the opportunity to go this year. Especially the last two years have only been for the elite field. So it was pretty special, just to be like wow I’m somebody who gets to do this.
iRunFar: Nice. So what do you hope to get out of this weekend, and this UTMB?
Schide: I think this year I’m more focused on trying to enjoy the race a bit more. Two years ago I think I, I showed up at the start line a bit like, “Alright, when’s this going to be over?” Which is not a good place to be in when you start such a long race. Whereas CCC the year before that I really had a good time and really enjoyed myself, and I would like to have more of those feelings and yeah, just kind of get, I would like to finish the race. That’s always the number one goal for me. We really have to respect how long these races are. And if I can finish the race and just be happy with what I did, then I will honestly be very happy.
iRunFar: And enjoy the process and journey along the way.
Schide: Yeah. Enjoy those really low lows still. [laughs]
iRunFar: Well good luck and enjoy it out there.