Magdalena Boulet won the 2015 Western States 100 in her 100-mile debut. In this finish-line interview with Andy Jones-Wilkins, Magda talks about how she ran for Dave Mackey, the mental challenge of being behind after going far off course, and how the final 20 miles were the hardest she’s ever run.
Bonus: Video of Magdalena’s finishing the race.
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Magdalena Boulet, 2015 Western States 100 Champ, Finish-Line Interview Transcript
Andy Jones-Wilkins: Magdalena, what a day out there! What a day out there! Tell us right now what’s on your mind. What’s going through your head?
Magdalena Boulet: I was running for Dave Mackey all day. It did help me through this race. He’s one of the toughest people I know. Before I started the race, I wanted to dedicate this to him and I was just thinking of him.
AJW: That’s great! Thank you. We’re all thinking of Dave Mackey, a multi-time finisher here at Western States and just an all-around great guy recovering from a very difficult injury. I have to start with… the internet pretty much blew up today with your hat. Tell us a little bit about that hat because we all want to know now.
Boulet: I stole the idea from Rob Krar and Max King, so I’ve been training in it for the past maybe month, and it just felt really good. I’ll keep racing in it.
AJW: I guess if you’re going to steal an idea from someone, Krar and King are not bad guys to do it from. It was an interesting race. In the first third from the start to Robinson Flat, there were a couple different women leaders. You seemed to bide your time a little back there; you never let them get too far ahead. You also seemed to be running your own race. Was that your plan in the high country to keep things under control? If it was, when did you decide to make your move?
Boulet: I definitely wanted to run conservatively for the first 30 to 40 miles. Unfortunately, once I got to Robinson Flat, I took a wrong turn after the aid station. I didn’t make a sharp right. I just kept going. I followed whoever the first lady was [Joelle Vaught]. So by the time I turned around and I realized—I think two women passed me. It took some courage and patience and determination to keep my head in it. When I got to the next aid station, I was 20 minutes behind. Then the next station I was 18 minutes, so I was slowly making up ground. It wasn’t until right before Foresthill that I caught up to Stephanie Howe.
AJW: Let’s talk about that. That section called Volcano Canyon between Michigan Bluff and Foresthill just so happens is the same place that Rob Krar made the move to break ahead. Did you plan that or did you just feel Stephanie get closer and you knew that it was time to get going on that singletrack on the way down to the ravine and up the climb to Bath Road? It seemed that by the time you got to Foresthill you had a minute lead?
Boulet: No, it was more of a mental struggle for me. I knew I was behind 20 minutes, and I really had to play some mind games to get back in it. I knew I was gaining on Stephanie, but it’s still 50 miles to go. I needed to be patient and see what was going on.
AJW: As Tropical John mentioned, this was your first 100. For the second time in a row, the women’s champion was running her first 100. I have to imagine those last 20 miles were tough and maybe you were running them on fumes a little bit. After you got through the river and crested at the top of Green Gate, how did you get through the last 20?
Boulet: It was definitely tough—the toughest 20 miles I’ve ever run. I had a really, really amazing crew. Everyone just kept me checked and relaxed. My pacer was pretty awesome—Jason Hill, thank you. Every aid station, everyone was so nice and encouraging. It’s really the people that get you through this because everything hurts. It really hurts. You just have to listen to people and surround yourself with good people.
AJW: That’s great. I can’t finish this interview without asking you this question. You’ve had incredible years running sub-ultra distances before the last couple of years. Then you’ve had an incredible ascent through the sport starting with 50k’s and 50 milers in 2013 and a great lead up to this race this winter and spring. We love our champions here at Western States. You’ll get the great honor tomorrow. Do you think you’ll be back?
Boulet: I hope so. I got inspired to do this race by watching this race. Right now, I’m in pain. I’m not going to answer this question now. I definitely love this race. I’m in love. I’m hoping to come back.
AJW: I think I can speak on behalf of everyone in the Western States family: we’d love to have you back. Once again, congratulations on your win! Magdalena Boulet!