Lucy Bartholomew will debut at the 100-mile distance with the 2018 Western States 100. In this interview, a part of the iRunFar Live at Western States show, Lucy talks about how she got into ultrarunning at the age of 15, why she hasn’t yet run 100 miles in her seven-year career in the sport, and her ascendent race performances in the last 18 or so months.
For more on who’s running the race, check out our women’s and men’s previews, and, then, follow along with our live race coverage on Saturday!
Lucy Bartholomew Pre-2018 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar—Meghan Hicks: We are back with iRunFar Live at Western States. For those of you who are watching online, we apologize for the technical difficulties. We’re working with a bit of limited bandwidth here doing the best that we can. This is our third interview of Wednesday’s Western States Live show. We’re with Lucy Bartholomew.
Lucy Bartholomew: Hi.
iRunFar—Hicks: How are you?
Bartholomew: I’m good. I’m just kind of waiting for the day to happen now.
iRunFar—HIcks: I should be saying, “Welcome to California,” but actually you should be saying that to me because you’ve been here for a proper couple weeks now.
Bartholomew: I’ve been here for three weeks now, based in Auburn, running the course and getting to know the history of what Western States is. I feel like I’m just really immersing myself in what Western States is.
iRunFar—Dylan Bowman: You’ve seen most of the course at this point. Is there anything that has sort of surprised you? What are your thoughts versus your expectations before you arrived? Are there particular parts you’re excited to run or particularly dreading come race day?
Bartholomew: I ran the Memorial Day Training Weekend, so I covered most of the course then. It was fine over three days. Then at the end of the weekend, I was putting that all together and adding another 30 miles, Oh, that’s a lot. I think the biggest challenge is the distance for me. I haven’t raced 100 miles before. I think the trail is beautiful, but I think it’s going to be a very big challenge with everything.
iRunFar—Bowman: Just to back up, because your accent betrays you’re actually from Australia and not from North America.
Bartholomew: G’day, mate.
iRunFar—Bowman: I know you’ve done some interviews with iRunFar before, but maybe just introduce yourself. You have a really unique story in how you came into the sport, and maybe take us from there to how you ended up here.
Bartholomew: Yeah, I started running with my dad, and we ran our first 100k when I was 15. Then from there, it’s just kind of been a steady progression of finishing high school and going traveling on my gap year and finding races to do. I have been going with the flow. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m just kind of rolling with it. In the last year, I kind of thought I’d give this a real crack and see what can happen.
iRunFar—Hicks: You are 22 years old, about 22 and a month, but you have a lot of experience with trail and ultrarunning. You’ve been running ultras since you were 15. You’re giving 100 miles your first shot though. One hundred miles is something a lot of ultrarunners are eager to try—What does that feel like? What has made you wait until you’re 22?
Bartholomew: When I started running, I wanted to do a great marathon, but you had to be 18 to do that, so I couldn’t do that. When I got allowed to run the 100k at 15 which was unheard of in Australia, I did that. Then I wanted to run 100 miles, but in Australia it’s 18 to do that. Then I wanted to do UTMB, but I think it’s 21 to do that. So I was kind of knocked back. I would have gone and just jumped straight into it, but I think the world told me to stop and wait. Even at the end of last year after racing five 100k events, I was thinking next (this) year I’d do shorter races. Then I got into this race through the Ultra-Trail World Tour, so scratch that, I’m doing 100 miles. I’m doing one of the biggest 100 miles.
iRunFar—Bowman: Speaking of the World Tour, you’ve had a ton of success in the last 12 to 18 months. You won and set a course record at Ultra-Trail Australia and same at Ultra-Trail Cape Town at the end of 2017. Loke you said, this is your first 100, but you have been really successful, and I think a lot of people look at you this weekend like a legitimate threat to win the race. Do you feel confident based on these recent performances, or are you fearful of the distance?
Bartholomew: No, I’m fearful of the distance. It’s natural. But I’ve got a lot of people telling me, “It’s not Western States 100 Mile Race. It’s Western States, and it’s a run.” All I can do is train the way I’ve trained, which is done, and just approach it like any other race. I ran the TdS in Chamonix as part of the UTMB weekend, so I’ve been out for 19 hours, so the hours aren’t intimidating, it’s just covering that extra 40k.
iRunFar—Hicks: In hopefully the same amount of hours.
Bartholomew: Yeah, once you’re out, I’ll just keep going.
iRunFar—Hicks: Talk to us a little bit about being based in Auburn because you’re surrounded by the Western States community. I’m sure every single person has given you a piece of advice. “Do this. Don’t do that.” What’s it been like? How have you learned but at the same time absorbed it into your own way of approaching this race?
Bartholomew: It’s been super fun. I was picked up from the airport by a guy I didn’t know, and he’s a 10-time finisher. That night we went for a run with Tim Twietmeyer who I didn’t know. Then I was taking selfies when I found out who he was. I listen to advice. I had Memorial Day Training Weekend with heaps of people. It’s so lovely they’re willing to share their knowledge with me. I’m very aware that I kind of take advice, and I have a plan, but it will change pretty early on.
iRunFar—Bowman: Is there any advice that has stuck with you from people like Craig [Thornley] or Tim?
Bartholomew: Yeah, probably like, “Don’t go out hard. It’s a long way,” and the general rules like, “The race starts at Foresthill”—I’ve heard that on repeat, but again, I’ll just roll with whatever happens out there.
iRunFar—Hicks: We asked Courtney Dauwalter the same question a few minutes ago, but we’ll ask you the same question. You’ve run at the front of a lot of races in the last year-and-a-half or so, but this is a race where there are a lot of high-quality women running with you on Saturday. You’re going to be running with them. They’ll be coming past you during high moments. You’ll be going past them during your own high moments. Have you thought at all about that extra variable in this race—that competitive dynamic?
Bartholomew: Yeah, I’m just honored to be amongst these girls, these ones that I follow on social media. I want to take my phone and take selfies to prove that I’m running with them even on the start line. I’ll be stoked. I’m happy to be around them if I’m around them. I’m not really worried about what they’re doing. I just want to complete my first 100 miler and experience Western States. I want to do it in a way that makes me want to run 100 miles again. I think that’s why starting a 100k at 15, I finished that race because I was going at my dad’s pace—not that it was slow—but I finished and said, “Oh, that was awesome. I want to do that again.” I want to leave everything out at Western States, but I also want to be like, “That was awesome. I want to do it again.”
iRunFar—Hicks: I want to ask you about one of the critical environmental variables at Western States—the heat. As the days go by, the forecast is getting warmer and warmer. Now we’re in the category that this could be one of the top-five hottest races of all time historically. But, where you come from, you have quite hot summers.
Bartholomew: Yeah, I’m not worried about the heat. I think it’s something you can stress about but you can’t do anything to change it. All you can do is get your crew to have ice and wear appropriate clothing. I’m someone who is just like, Okay, if it’s hot, I’ll deal with it as it comes. There’s a lot of talk about it, and I don’t want to waste energy on it.
iRunFar—Bowman: Did you do any training for it specifically? Did you get out and run in the middle of the day?
Bartholomew: Yeah, that was probably one of the first things—people in Auburn ran at 1 p.m. It ruins my breakfast, lunch, and dinner routine. I’m a very morning person, and then I get lazier and lazier. They had to drag me out a few times, but it was… yeah, I’ve gotten out in the heat and experienced. I did a bit of sauna stuff in Australia whether that helped or not, but it was just kind of nice.
iRunFar—Bowman: Yeah, it will help.
iRunFar—Hicks: Last question for you—I just have to ask, what’s the deal with watermelon and you?
Bartholomew: Well, it’s really funny, because I like to eat watermelon in a race, but most people do. But when I won Ultra Trail Cape Town, I was on tv in Australia, and my caption line was for who I was was, “Watermelon lover, Lucy is known for her infectious smile and amounts of watermelon.” I was like, “I ran a 100k. That doesn’t even get written on there.” So, it just kind of stemmed from there. I just rolled with it. Then everything got designed and t-shirts were sent out around the world, and now it’s kind of… my thing.
iRunFar—Bowman: You are a fan favorite, and I think a lot of people will be following you this weekend. I think you add a really interesting dynamic to the race this year. I do want to mention you’re not the youngest person in the field. One of our friends here in the audience is 20 and is going to be running.
Bartholomew: Hell, yeah. Super cool. Youngest female then?
iRunFar—Bowman: Youngest female probably.
Bartholomew: I’ll take that.
iRunFar—Bowman: Thank you so much for joining us. Good luck on Saturday.
Bartholomew: Thank you.