Kaytlyn Gerbin returns to the Trail World Championships to the run the 80-kilometer race for the U.S. in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In the following interview, Kaytlyn talks about her time since taking third at this year’s UTMB, how races can serve as adventures, and what it’s like returning to run for the U.S. team at the Trail World Championships for the second time.
For more on who’s running this year’s Trail World Championships 80k, read our in-depth women’s and men’s previews.
Kaytlyn Gerbin Pre-2022 Trail World Championships 80k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Kaytlyn Gerbin before the 2022 Trail World Championships. How are you, Kaytlyn?
Kaytlyn Gerbin: I’m good. How are you?
iRunFar: Alright. You come to the Trail World Championships after placing third at UTMB just two months ago. How has that time in between gone?
Gerbin: Really good. Actually, I had a really good, pretty easy recovery after UTMB. And then just had to shift gears and try to do some faster running for this, which was a bit of a challenge mentally, definitely. But yeah, but it’s been pretty nice. We had really nice, dry weather up in Washington, and the last couple of weeks got really smoky. So that made training, like a week of training, quite a challenge, but in general, yeah things were pretty good.
iRunFar: Nice. So how much of a break/recovery period did you take after UTMB?
Gerbin: So, I stuck around in the Chamonix and Courmayeur, area for I think almost three weeks after UTMB. My husband [Ely Gerbin] was racing Tor des Géants and so we stuck around there. And basically, the whole time I was just in recovery mode. Did some easy hiking to huts, started a little bit of easy running. But then once I got back to the U.S. I started doing some training. So, I guess I took about three weeks or so off.
iRunFar: Except those recovery days during the Tor des Géants aren’t really recovery days.
Gerbin: No, but for various reasons, we ended up ending that journey early and just going to the beach, so it actually was pretty good. [laughs]
iRunFar: Oh, nice. Okay, I didn’t even know how your husband’s Tor turned out but just recovering. True recovering.
Gerbin: We had a really nice end of our trip.
iRunFar: Very nice. So, you did go to a little bit more intense or speedy training, but how much more so? Because this course still has almost as much vert per mile as UTMB.
Gerbin: Yeah, exactly. I mean, it’s kind of the same stats as UTMB in half. So, I’m excited about that, because I feel like it makes the transition going from the 100-mile training to this a little bit easier. But there’s still so many fast people running that I think fitting in a little bit of speedwork was important. But yeah, there’s only so much you can do in that short amount of time, especially making sure I had the good recovery.
iRunFar: So, fortunately, you do have obviously a very high level of fitness and strength. Entering the sharpening phase.
Gerbin: Yeah, I hope that it translates to running here, but 50 miles is still like half of my preferred race distance. Yeah, I’m grateful that there’s a lot of vert. I think the heat and humidity will make things interesting. So, we’ll just go out there and see what happens.
iRunFar: For sure. Around UTMB you said that you like using adventures to prepare for your racing.
iRunFar: What about races themselves as adventures, or reason to adventure to new places?
Gerbin: I mean, I think it’s such a cool opportunity to get to come to Thailand and race you know, in the mountains outside of Chiang Mai. I feel like I probably wouldn’t come here to run on those trails if not for having an event here. So yeah, I’m really excited by the adventure of it. And yeah, it’s been a little hard to find really good information about the course. You know, pretty far leading up into it. And so, I think it’ll just be an adventure going out there, I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. [laughs]
iRunFar: Totally. Well, this isn’t your first time running for the U.S. In 2018 you were at the Trail World Championships in Spain, Penyagolosa, but what does running the Trail World Championships, or running for Team USA mean to you?
Gerbin: I’ve remembered that experience in 2018 as one of the highlights of my running career. I think it was just, it’s such a cool chance to run really with a team and work off of teammates. And we had, I think during that race, I was just retelling the story, but I ran almost the whole race with other U.S. teammates. I spent about the first half of the race with Sarah Pizzo and Amy Leedham, and then had caught up to Clare Gallagher and Sabrina Little and it just felt like such a dynamic team racing environment. And yeah, I don’t know. It’s really special. And I’m excited to have some really strong ladies on our team this year. And I hope that we can, you know, work together and like, all kind of go in and pull each other along, because everyone on the team has different strengths. And I think sometimes being able to kind of latch on to someone and pull people through is a really good way to do it.
iRunFar: Even if there’s usually a positive dynamic at the front of the sport between competing athletes, more so when you have the same team kit on, and running in a team competition.
Gerbin: Yeah, we’ve been in email contact with everyone on our team for a couple of weeks now, sharing any course beta we can find, sharing information. We have a group WhatsApp channel that we’re all messaging back and forth. We’re going to go have a pool party later tonight with everyone. [laughs] So yeah, I mean, we’re really, I think kind of no filters just trying to share and help each other as a team. So yeah, I think it’s a fun dynamic that we don’t always get to do with ultrarunning.
iRunFar: Nice. Well, back in 2018 I think you were 10th overall for the women.
iRunFar: And that helped the U.S. get bronze. What can we maybe expect out of the U.S. women this time around?
Gerbin: I mean, I hope that we can, we can do at least that this year. I think we’ve got a really strong, strong team. And like you said, it’s going to be an adventure out there with a lot of unknowns. And it seems like most people are really excited about that. So, I think as long as we can just kind of keep things in control and race smart and you know, keep the whole course in mind, I feel like we can have a really good shot at the team podium.
iRunFar: It sounds like a really good mental approach, because there’s a lot of — there are many unknowns in this race and just the heat and humidity on top of all the vert.
Gerbin: I don’t know.
iRunFar: It doesn’t feel like a race where people are going to go out and like hang on to …
Gerbin: I don’t know, I feel like almost every race in the last couple years I’ve been in I’ve been surprised, pleasantly surprised with like, women going out hard and holding on. And so, I feel like there’s been a little bit of a shift and with the level of competition here I wouldn’t be surprised if at least a few people do that. So I don’t know. We’ll see.
iRunFar: Would that be in your style?
Gerbin: I don’t know. [laughs] I would, I think like after my UTMB experience I had been thinking about just wanting to get a few more even shorter races in where I go out a little bit riskier maybe. I don’t, I’m not sure yet how that’s going to play out on this course. And in 2018 when I raced my way into 10th, I had started really slow, and then really moved up in the second half of the course. And I feel like this type of course with the humidity is similar in that way, where I feel like there might be a really strong late-race game, but I don’t know. We’ll see.
iRunFar: All right, well, best of luck out there and enjoy. Thank you, Kaytlyn.
Gerbin: Thank you.