Kaytlyn Gerbin returns to Transgrancanaria after having taken second at the race last year. In the following interview, Kaytlyn talks about how her run at last year’s Transgrancanaria was more challenging than it looked, what she’ll do differently this year, and what it was like spending a few days in the Gran Canarian mountain town of Tejeda ahead of this year’s race.
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Kaytlyn Gerbin Pre-2020 Transgrancanaria Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Kaytlyn Gerbin before the 2020 Transgrancanaria. How are you, Kaytlyn?
Kaytlyn Gerbin: I’m awesome.
Gerbin: Yeah, I’m really excited to be here.
iRunFar: Welcome back to Transgrancanaria. You were here last year and had a really great race, probably was one of the highlights of your season yeah?
Gerbin: Yeah I was – it was my first race of the season last year and to get the chance to come out to the Canary Islands in the middle of winter was just awesome so I’ve been wanting to come back.
iRunFar: So walk us through your race last year, like it had been a strong performance, what did it look like from your perspective?
Gerbin: So I almost like hate saying this because I know I like, ended up doing really well, but I actually had a pretty bad race for myself, a really tough day. I got really sick right before, it was my first real European race other than the World Championships, but that was kind of such a different level of support and groups so it just felt very different and I travelled out here by myself so I had no crew, didn’t know anybody, one drop bag at mile 50. So, I had myself a day, but, you know, I ended up problem solving a lot. I think I learned a lot about myself in that race, kind of because I had no one else to lean back on at all and so for that reason it was a really good experience, but I’ve also, since that race, I’ve been wanting to be able to come back. I really enjoyed the course, I love the island, I love the people, I like the competition, and so I want to come and kind of give myself another chance to have a different experience on race day.
iRunFar: So if you don’t mind sharing what went wrong, because you do learn a lot.
Gerbin: Yeah. So I had some gear issues just things that weren’t quite figured out. I lost a headlamp into a cactus that went down a hillside at one point. I didn’t bring poles with me and really regretted not doing that. My travel out here was kind of bonkers and I got sick during the process of travel so I started the race sick. I kind of… name all the things that could go wrong in an international race and I felt like there some degree of that that I was just, you know it almost got to be comical. But you know you also learn that any one of those things, you can solve that, you can find a way to get around it and it might mean that you have to adjust to your plan or your strategy and stuff throughout the day, which is what I just kept doing and I ended up, because of that I was able to keep my head in the game and have myself a good, strong finish. But it wasn’t easy.
iRunFar: I wonder if, there’s sometimes races where if you’re having to problem solve along the way you’re less focused on the pain and the hurt, I’m like, I still have got another eight hours to go, like you’re in the moment trying to deal with losing your headlamp to a cactus.
Gerbin: Yeah, that’s definitely possible I don’t know, I still felt pain but I think like, yeah having – anyway you can have a distraction is a good thing so I mean even if your left foot starts hurting then you forget about your stomach. Or you know, something like that. So there’s ways to work around it.
iRunFar: So you’re a scientist as a profession, I’m going to guess you’re probably a little analytical?
Gerbin: Yeah, I am and I’d say I’m more like to be really organized and have plans, but at the same time I run for fun and I really love it, and so I try not to get too in-depth with over analysing things especially while I’m running, because I think for me that kind of takes the fun out of it.
iRunFar: But after the fact, have you like, you had last season and you ran Transgrancanaria did you go back and look and think, what can I do better in my preparation, in the execution?
Gerbin: Yeah, I did and knowing some of the things about my travel out here I adjusted my plan, I recruited a friend to come crew me so I have someone who’s going to help see me along the course. I brought poles. I was really lucky to get out here for a couple days before the race so I feel like I’ve at least recovered a little bit from the travel more so than I was last year at this time.
iRunFar: And that wiped you out a little bit last year? It’s a big thing like I noticed this year a lot of the American runners came over whether it was Saturday, whatever, just a couple extra days early. Not necessarily for a vacation, but just not to be wiped out.
Gerbin: I mean it’s pretty far to get out here and I think most people have at least 24 hours of travel to get out here. So if you have that plus then the stress of the race and we were just talking about how the race starts tomorrow at midnight or 11 p.m., so today should be a free day, but actually there’s so much stuff before the race with interviews and media and race briefing and check-in and stuff that it ends up really adding up and you don’t really have – like today is not really a recovery day even though you would like it to be. So I think it was really good for me to have a couple days where I could just kind of get my feet up a little bit more and recover from the travel.
iRunFar: So you spend at least some of that time up in Tejeda, which is a little town up in the mountains that I’ve reported from every year and it’s one, if I have three or four extra days here in Grand Canaria I would want to go to. Tell me what it’s like up there.
Gerbin: Go there. Just go, maybe even leave the race now just go up, wait for us to come through. Yeah, it’s a beautiful, picturesque little mountain town although it’s like the old white buildings against the cliff side and you’re up on the high point but it’s actually still quite warm, I thought it would be cold, it got cold at night but it was still, you know still got the sun, it’s beautiful views, really nice people. I actually was like by myself so it’s basically just like isolated mind. I needed some downtime but it’s easy to do that there. Yeah, I would highly recommend getting up there if possible.
iRunFar: I’ve heard really good bird songs in the morning.
Gerbin: Yeah, there were lots of birds, you can see. Sunsets were beautiful.
iRunFar: Did you have any days where the clouds were pouring over the cliffs above you?
Gerbin: I didn’t see that but I mean I was only out there for two and a half days.
iRunFar: And how are the trails up there?
Gerbin: Amazing. Yeah, just amazing and the course – so actually the course goes right through that town so you run on the trails, there’s trails everywhere there so it’s really easy to run on the race course itself, but if you don’t want to do that there’s a lot of other options, too. And I think it’s about, I forget kilometers but I’ll tell you miles, so it’s around mile 45 or something. So about halfway.
iRunFar: Okay so like 70 km, 72 km, somewhere in that area.
Gerbin: Yeah, so it was, yeah I have to convert everything to miles, I can’t do the math in my head when I’m tired. But, no, it was awesome, now that I’ve spent a couple days up there I think I’ve had that experience, I know what it’s like down on the beach and I would love to make this a race I come back to because it’s a nice place.
iRunFar: And you just had a nice training stint/race in Costa Rica at the Coastal Challenge? How’d that go?
Gerbin: Awesome, it was very hot.
Gerbin: It makes this not feel very hot.
iRunFar: Coming from Silverton this feels really hot.
Gerbin: That was my first time in Costa Rica so it was such a cool way to experience a country and it brought in runners from all over the world and because you’re camping with people every single night you end up getting to know different people from everywhere and probably a lot of people that I wouldn’t normally meet at races. There are also a lot of people who aren’t – don’t consider themselves ultrarunners there who just like running the stage race kind of style so it was a fun way to connect and hear different stories from different people.
iRunFar: Sounds like a great experience and a great month for you?
Gerbin: Yeah. No, I’ve had a really good month.
iRunFar: Nice. Well good luck this weekend and enjoy.
Gerbin: Thank you.