Switzerland’s Luzia Buehler will be running the Western States 100 for the third time this weekend, but it’ll mark her first time going in as a top contender after finishing 11th at the race in 2019 and fifth at UTMB in 2021. In the following interview, our first with Luzia, she talks about her history with sports, when she started getting serious about running, what she thinks will be her biggest challenge on Saturday, and why she has fun with trail running.
For more on who’s running this year’s Western States 100, check out our women’s and men’s previews, and, then, follow along with our live race coverage on Saturday!
Luzia Buehler Pre-2022 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar with Luzia Buehler before the 2022 Western States 100. How are you?
Luzia Buehler: I’m pretty good, thank you. Hi Bryon.
iRunFar: We’ve met before, at some finish lines, but it’s good to talk to you for the first time. I’d love to know a little bit about your history with sports and with running in particular. Have you been an athlete your whole life?
Buehler: Not really. I do sports since I’m a child, it’s true, but I always worked maybe more for me and not for competition, but I did a lot. I’m a skier, I’m a snowboarder. I run a lot, so cross country, I live in Switzerland so we can do a lot, what we do. We can bicycle.
iRunFar: So, everything?
iRunFar: When did you sort of become more serious with running? Or focus some energy in that direction?
Buehler: Yeah, that maybe starts with Ellie Greenwood.
iRunFar: Yeah? When was that?
Buehler: It was, I don’t know. Four years ago, maybe. You know her, she’s a really good runner, and she has some really good experience, so I learned a lot from her. And yeah, it was fun to make more of this running than just fun.
iRunFar: We’ll get to that later, but yeah, to try to compete to some degree, yes, correct? You ran Western States in 2019.
Buehler: And 2015.
iRunFar: 2015 as well?
Buehler: It was my first 100 miler. Oh, that was painful. It was so hard. It was a really crazy 27 hours. Twenty-seven hours of hell.
iRunFar: And yet you came back. You came back in 2019 and were 11th.
iRunFar: So a big improvement. What did you change during that time?
Buehler: I run more.
Buehler: I run more and maybe less skiing, less snowboarding, so more focusing on running so that’s normally how you get better.
iRunFar: Yeah. I’d love to know a little bit about how that race went in 2019 because you were 11th, that’s a strong finish. What went right there?
Buehler: Yeah, it was a good day but also a tough day. I had some problems with my stomach and always in the heat. You know, I live in Switzerland; we don’t have this heat. So the mountain is not a problem for me, but the heat. So I will try Saturday the best I can and let’s see what happens.
iRunFar: Have you changed any of your plan having experienced that heat two times?
Buehler: Yeah, I always go to the sauna before. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so good, but yeah, I always go to the sauna before.
iRunFar: Yeah? And do you change your nutrition at all?
Buehler: Just a little bit. It’s always like sometimes it works on this day, and the next day it doesn’t work. So you have to try, and when you feel like, a little bit sick, then go back and try something else.
iRunFar: Try something else. Hope it works next time.
iRunFar: Well, last year you had what I would say is your best ultramarathon finish, with fifth place at UTMB.
iRunFar: What went right on that day?
Buehler: I went really good until Courmayeur. And from Courmayeur until Vallorcine, I was a little bit dizzy, like, I was a little bit grumpy cat. But after this, it was a good finish.
iRunFar: Yeah. And that was probably late in the night and into the early morning, a long time.
Buehler: Yeah, a long time.
iRunFar: And how did you recover from that race?
Buehler: It was good because after UTMB I didn’t race for the rest of the year, so I had a really good [recovery] and enjoyed my time in the fall. Good season in the fall because I live in the Swiss mountains, so it’s always beautiful up there and so I enjoy the whole mountains for me.
iRunFar: And more relaxed, like you are still running but not having to worry about training.
Buehler: Yes, it was fun to just run by myself. And with friends sometimes.
iRunFar: And now you are here back at the starting line, I would assume, to compete again.
Buehler: Yeah, I hope.
iRunFar: What do you think you can do on this Western States course?
Buehler: I try my best and when I’m at the finish line I want to give myself a feeling, okay, that was really the best from start to the finish from Western States I can. When I have this feeling then I’m proud.
iRunFar: So, whatever the place, whatever the time, you will know if you have a good day.
Buehler: Yes. But a really good day.
iRunFar: A really good day, all right. One thing I kind of noticed about you is you seem to have fun with trail running and ultramarathons, is that true?
Buehler: Yeah. Because it’s beautiful. Look around. It’s the best place. We can, we just need shoes and maybe shorts and a shirt, not that much. It’s the best sport, I believe, in this area.
iRunFar: Yeah, and you have two crew members here. What is the community aspect of trail running like for you?
Buehler: For sure I run a lot alone in Switzerland, I know it’s a small country but we live far away from each other, so I run alone a lot. But I tried to [meet the] community like now, I have a crew from Germany, I’m from Switzerland. So, I like this, when you can meet someone, people from other states or other areas and that’s Western States. You have always really a good time here, at every aid station, it’s fun and people are so nice and friendly. Maybe we Europeans could learn a lot more from you Americans of this part.
iRunFar: I think you’ve already learned that lesson or know that lesson well, so I hope you have a great run and enjoy your time afterward, too.
Buehler: Thank you, we’ll have fun.
iRunFar: Good luck.