Reigning UTMB champion Katie Schide is running her first Western States 100. In this interview, she talks about her preparation for a more runnable ultra than what she’s accustomed to, and her excitement at having her family here to cheer her on.
Katie Schide Pre-2023 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Sarah Brady of iRunFar. I’m here before the 2023 Western States 100, and I’m with Katie Schide. Katie, how are you?
Katie Schide: I’m doing alright. I’m a little bit chillier than I expected, though.
iRunFar: Yeah, I think it’s chillier than we all expected. So, you’re from the States, but you’ve been living in Europe, and you’ve been doing most of your racing over there. So, does it feel really special and different to be closer to home and at the start of an iconic American ultra?
Schide: Yeah, I would say closer to home, in that I’m in the same country, but I’m actually from Maine. So, it’s pretty far from here. But yeah, it’s interesting to be in a place more like where I grew up, and there’s more older friends around who I’ve known for a longer period of time. So that’s cool. And this will be the first time my family can be at one of my big races. So, I’m really excited about that.
iRunFar: That’s exciting. Are they crewing for you, or they just come in here to watch?
Schide: My sister will be helping with crewing, but my parents, I let them off the hook. They’re just going to be in support mode.
iRunFar: Yeah, it’s important to have balance as well. So, how long have you been over here preparing? I think you were in Flagstaff for a while, were you?
Schide: Yeah, I came over at the end of April, and I’ve been in Flagstaff since then. I had a good time, and it was fun to be in the desert for a few months.
iRunFar: Great. So you’re obviously the reigning UTMB champ, and you’re better known for really mountainous races. But you did a 50-miler in Paris, a pretty speedy one recently, that was quite flat. So was that part of your Western States plan?
Schide: Yeah, I probably wouldn’t have run Eco Trail Paris if it I hadn’t been thinking about Western States. It’s a race I’d been looking at for a while, but it never really fit in with the ski season, so to say, until this year. It was a good challenge, and it definitely gave me something to have in the back of my mind throughout the winter of maybe, let’s say, less inspiring runs.
iRunFar: And what was finishing a race on the Eiffel Tower?
Schide: The best story about that is that I was told that it finished on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower, so I was thinking it was just one flight of stairs. So I approached the stairs at a run and realized that the first floor is actually, they meant the big bridge that connects the first level. So maybe it was 10 flights of stairs. So actually, the end was quite painful because I was not expecting so much climbing.
iRunFar: And a lot of people watching as well, so you can’t really back off the pace?
Schide: Yeah, luckily in the stairwell, no one can see you. But when you get to the top, yeah.
iRunFar: Okay. So, I was just wondering what kind of brought you to Western States? Is it just that you got the Golden Ticket and you’re like, Oh, I’ll do this, or is it something you’ve wanted to do for a while?
Schide: It’s definitely something I’ve wanted to do for a while. But it just never really fit, and I didn’t have the right year to kind of target a Golden Ticket. And all of the stuff that goes into trying to get a Golden Ticket was just a little too complex. And I’d had my sights set on UTMB for a long time. So when UTMB went well, and I got a Golden Ticket in like September of last year, then it totally made sense to take it and kind of target this year towards a new event.
iRunFar: Brilliant. So, what’s been really different about preparing for this versus UTMB?
Schide: That’s a big question. No poles, no required gear. Running a lot more. Not hiking as much. Yeah, getting used to the heat. A lot of things. Yeah. I spent probably way too long debating the running vest versus handheld thing. So, there’s been a lot of things in my head.
iRunFar: Yeah. I’ve done UTMB races as well, and I have so much anxiety with the gear check, moreso than the run. Yeah, so just curious to see how you’ll approach race day. Because in UTMB you ran a really brave race. You took it out really hard, and you managed to hold on. So, I’m just wondering, are we going to see something similar this weekend? Or are you going to tell us?
Schide: I really don’t know. I think it will, we’ll see what happens once the race starts, and how things progress, yeah, through the patchy snow and this beginning part. I’ve never seen the first 50k, so I really have no idea what’s going to happen there. And it will also depend how other people start. I know UTMB starts at like a sprint, essentially. And I’m expecting this to not go out as hot, hopefully. It would be nice to have a few relaxing kilometers at the beginning. But, we’ll see. I think it all just depends how I feel.
iRunFar: See how it unfolds? Yeah, so I know you haven’t seen all of the course. So, is there anything from what you’ve seen, or what you haven’t seen, that you’re just excited to get to and to see on race day?
Schide: Yeah, I’ve heard a lot about the beginning being really beautiful in the high country, and I haven’t seen that part yet. So that’s kind of what excites me the most right now.
iRunFar: Yeah, that should be fab. So after the race, are you going to head home for a while? Are you spending more time in the States or is it back to Europe?
Schide: Yeah, back home to France on Tuesday. And yeah, I’m looking forward to the race, but I’m also very much looking forward to being back in the Alps, and back with my partner, Germain [Grangier], and with friends and family there.
iRunFar: Okay, fab. It’s nice to have that to look forward to. So yeah, best of luck, and we can’t wait to follow you out there.
Schide: Thank you.