Lucy Bartholomew took third at the 2018 Western States 100, her 100-mile debut. In the following interview, Lucy talks about the risk she took in going out hard but how she wanted to run her own race, how the heat got to her before midway and she relinquished the lead, how she fended off an explosion by both slowing down and getting nutrition back on board, and what it felt like to finish on the podium.
Watch Lucy’s finish and be sure to read our results article for the full race story.
Lucy Bartholomew Post-2018 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m with Lucy Bartholomew. She just finished third at the 2018 Western States Endurance Run. Congratulations, Lucy.
Lucy Bartholomew: Thank you.
iRunFar: How are you feeling right now?
Bartholomew: I’m very, very proud; I’m very, very sore; I’m very, tired.
iRunFar: You tried to camp here at the track last night because you thought it would be nice, cool sleeping, but as it turned out, you couldn’t sleep.
Bartholomew: No, I wanted to be a part of the whole atmosphere here and watch people come in, but as it turned out, I just kind of rolled around on the floor and moaned.
iRunFar: So the really romantic stories about Scott Jurekwinning the race and putting his sleeping bag on the track and cheering people as they came by—that sounded good, but in actuality it doesn’t equal good recovery?
Bartholomew: The theory was there. Some person was like, “Oh, you could run with the last runner around.” This morning I was like, “It’s not going to happen.”
iRunFar: I literally can’t move to the bathroom right now.
Bartholomew: Exactly. I had to go to the bathroom, and I had to leave five minutes early just to get there in time.
iRunFar: Remind me after this interview because I have a really funny story about that.
iRunFar: Helping a runner avoid missing the bathroom.
Bartholomew: Oh, really? I needed that today. I was doing this really odd walk. I was sore, but not that sore. Yeah, I just made it.
iRunFar: On a more productive note, you just took third at Western States. Holy crap!
Bartholomew: Yeah, it was everything I wanted and more. My first 100 mile—it was a real big lesson in learning.
iRunFar: Talk about that some more.
Bartholomew: Yeah, I wanted to run my own race. I’ve been here for four weeks. I got told by everyone what not to do. As I was running up, Tim Twietmeyerwas like, “Lucy, you’re doing exactly what we told you not to do.” I was like, “I know. It’s going to be so rough.”
iRunFar: Look at me, I can’t stop myself!
Bartholomew: I was just like, “I’m just going to roll with it. Maybe it will be good!” Then, I was coming out the canyons like, I totally should have listened to those people.
iRunFar: I kind of feel that now.
Bartholomew: I felt really good for the first 50 miles, but that’s just half way in a 100-mile race.
iRunFar: As you just found out.
Bartholomew: Yeah, and then it’s a long way home from there.
iRunFar: Well, it’s a half way distance, but then time-wise, it may not be halfway.
Bartholomew: Yeah, exactly… well, it depends on how you run that back half.
iRunFar: Talk me through the logic of that. You were in Auburn on the Western States course running with all these experienced icons, yet you were, “I’m going to do my own thing.” Talk me through the logic of that.
Bartholomew: I’ve always raced this way. I have to learn the hard way. I wanted to come here and give my best, and I was willing to suffer hard for it. It was kind of exciting. I watch a lot of the men’s races with Zach Millersand Jim Walmsleyswho, I’m just going to lead and see what happens. I’m not them, but I was willing to kind of see what happens.
iRunFar: Was it that you were willing to do the experiment for the sake of experimenting and seeing what running by your own feel felt like ultimately?
Bartholomew: I just wanted to see, I’ve raced 120k, but it’s a different beast out here. I was told that so many times, but I was like, I’m going to finish this no matter what, and how I finish it doesn’t matter. I’m just going to get there.
iRunFar:Even if I break myself trying?
Bartholomew: Oh, yeah, 100%. Even if I had to drag legs across that line, I will do it, yeah.
iRunFar: Talk about some of the logistics. You went over the Escarpment essentially with some of the lead men or within a couple minutes of them. Did you have a jolly jog up with them?
Bartholomew: Yeah, I love the mountains, and I love climbing. I knew there wasn’t a lot of climbing in this course, and I also knew the past history that if you’re the first at the top of the Escarpment, you’re probably not likely to win. I was at the top of the Escarpment going, “Ahhh, shoot.”
iRunFar: That was a good three miles at least.
Bartholomew: Yeah, I just wanted to enjoy it, and I did. I was just tapping way. That’s what I love, that kind of running. I was surrounded by good friends and guys that are good friends of mine, so I was just like,If I blow up a little or I blow here, it’s just nice.It was a beautiful sunrise and a good way to start the day.
iRunFar: By our counts, you ran the first 24-25 miles a couple minutes slower than course record pace, and then you had a 20-ish mile section where you were running faster than course record pace, and, then, after that where you were running a bit slower than course record pace. Did you have splits? Did you monitor by the women who have come before you, or were you going entirely by feel?
Bartholomew: I had Stephanie Howe’s18:01 splits because I came here thinking I would run under 20 hours. I ran the course and thought, No, I can do better than that. Someone sent me Stephanie’s splits, and I thought, Oh, that’s kind of a good way. I looked at my watch, and I was ahead of it and, then, I was just on it. She ran 18:01, and I ran 17:59. It was nice to have a rough idea and my crew and stuff like that, but I was in no way looking at Ellie Greenwood’ssplits. A runner told me, “You’re running faster than that.” I was like, “Oh, gosh.”
iRunFar: Really, I am? Darn it. Now what? So, it starts to get hard. With this race, there’s 0.001% of people who are like, “Oh, I never had a hard time at 100 miles. I felt wonderful the whole time.” But for the rest of us, it gets hard. Where were you? What did it feel like?
Bartholomew: I was climbing Devil’s Thumb when I really hit my deepest low patch. I got told to bank calories in 100 miles. “Eat as much as you can.” Everyone was like, “Yeah, rice and beans at Robinson.” I was like, “Dude, I don’t do that.”
Bartholomew: “Fruit will get me through.” It didn’t get me through. I was climbing up seeing six feet of mine. It wasn’t pretty. I’m going to get to the top and they’re going to be really worried and they’ll let me sit down, and it’s going to be a great little break. I get to the top and they’re like, “You’re looking great. Keep going!” They pushed me back out. I was like, “Whaaaat? I….”
iRunFar: I was going to stay and have breakfast.
Bartholomew: Yeah, I know. I was really looking forward to looking at the buffet. That was hard. I was just waiting for Courtney [Dauwalter] or someone to catch me. Courtney caught me coming up into Michigan. I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather have come past me. It was such an honor to have her come past telling me she’s listening to Michael Jackson and I could share an earpiece with her and we could tap it out together. I was like, “Yeah, man, that’s not going to happen.”
iRunFar: Okayyyyy, just one second. So there are blow ups and there are “BLOW UPS” and you did not do the “BLOW UP.” You totally kept your stuff together. You finished third. How did you keep it all together?
Bartholomew: I think knowing the course was really helpful. Then I had the best support crew. I had my dad, and I had a lot of little kids in little Team Lucy t-shirts following me around. I wanted to do them proud. But, I knew I was struggling and suffering, but I was never like, This is race ending.It was just, my body is making me slow down and eat. I just needed to get to the checkpoint and take 10 minutes instead of 30 seconds like I was trying to do and chow down.
iRunFar: Get some calories back on board.
Bartholomew: Yeah, and when I could do that, when I had that at Michigan, I ran really well to Foresthill, and then I picked Sally [McRae]up and I was like, “Let’s go.”
iRunFar: Your stomach stayed with it all day?
Bartholomew: Yeah, it’s the first race ever. I can’t believe how much I ate.
iRunFar: You need to write this all down. There might be a nutrition mystery solved in there.
Bartholomew: Yeah, that’s one way to solve the mysteries is just to go do that. It was really, really awesome. The aid stations were so well stocked. At one point there were mangos and strawberries and blueberries. I can’t afford that stuff from the super market, so I was like, Oh, I’m just going to get my race entry fee here.
iRunFar: Do you have to-go bags, by any chance?
Bartholomew: Yeah, totally.
iRunFar: This could be my finish-line dinner. What did it feel like to come up to Robie Point and know that you were going to podium? What did it feel like to make this lap on the track?
Bartholomew: Oh, it’s dreams come true. This is my first 100 mile and my first time racing in America. I knew there were a lot of expectations, but I knew these people don’t know where I’m at. To be racing where I was racing with the women I was racing, and to get to Robie Point and be like, I’m going to make this, and to get to run in with my dad and the Salomon guys—it was really, really special and something I won’t forget.
iRunFar: Your dad is an ultrarunner, and you became an ultrarunner because of your dad?
Bartholomew: He is. Yes.
iRunFar: What was it like to share this whole thing with him?
Bartholomew: We watched Unbreakable for this race so many times. He’s been trying to get into this race for five years…
iRunFar: Sorry, dad…
Bartholomew: I know, right? And when we left for here, he did an interview and they said to him, “How are you feeling about Lucy running Western States?” Dad goes, “Just jealous.”
iRunFar: If I can just be honest…
Bartholomew: Not excited or nervous for her… just jealous. It was really special. The fact that he made the trip, sat in the car all day, fed me watermelon, and pushed me out… he was awesome. I’m super proud to have him here.
iRunFar: I think it’s really mean to ask people what they’re going to do next hours after they finished 100 miles, but I have to. Did you sit in bed and dream last night?
Bartholomew: Lying on the grass?
iRunFar: Sorry, have any little dreams popped in or around in the last couple hours?
Bartholomew: When I got my entry into this race, I cancelled all plans for the year, because I didn’t know how I was going to feel after my first 100 mile, and I wanted to respect that it’s going to be hard physically, mentally, and emotionally. So I haven’t really got any races coming up. I’m going across to Europe, but what I do there, I don’t know. I do want to come back to the 100-mile distance. I want to give it another crack. Yeah, I said on the start line…
Bartholomew: Yeah, I want to come back here. I think to get a bib is just such an honor that I can’t turn it down. I just love the community here too much to not return.
iRunFar: So #seeyouinOlympicValleynextyear?
Bartholomew: Heck, yeah. “SelfiesinSquaw!”
iRunFar: New hashtag. Congratulations on your third-place finish. We will see you somewhere round the world.