After finishing third at the Western States 100 in June, Marianne Hogan finished second at UTMB just two months later. In the following interview, Marianne talks about the ups and downs of her race, what injury she pushed through during UTMB, and how she found success in races as different as Western States and UTMB this summer.
For more on how this year’s UTMB unfolded, read our 2022 UTMB results article.
Marianne Hogan Post-2022 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Marianne Hogan after her second-place finish at the 2022 UTMB. How are you?
Marianne Hogan: I’m good, thanks. How are you?
iRunFar: Yeah. I’m doing all right. You had one heck of a day out there yesterday in all sorts of senses, yeah?
Hogan: [laughs] Yeah, for sure. It was quite the rollercoaster ride.
iRunFar: Indeed. You started out really strong, running really fast. Did you have a sense of kind of how your day was going to Saint Gervais, Les Contamines or …?
Hogan: Yeah, pretty much. I think I was feeling very good and I usually like to run on feeling. And also, the strategy was more like, trying to get a feel for the front of the race and how far behind I would have been from the leaders, but I was feeling pretty good since the beginning. So I think, I think it was a good start.
iRunFar: Did you get some updates on sort of where you were in the field in the first 30 to 50 kilometers?
Hogan: Yeah, of course, I was getting updates. A lot of people were giving me updates throughout the course, but also specific people who were there for that specific reason.
iRunFar: So you were feeling good and moving well. Were you kind of amazed at how far Katie [Schide] was in front?
Hogan: I was. I was. She started off really quickly. She, I think, easily took 15 or 20 minutes on me I think through, going down Les Col du Bonhomme I think is where she took the biggest lead on me.
iRunFar: You were feeling good and moving well at that time.
Hogan: Yeah, yeah. I was feeling good and moving well, but I was having some stomach issues. So I was, it wasn’t my best but I think that that’s kind of like a pattern that I noticed. At the beginning, I always feel a little like, you know when you start an ultra it takes a while before the machine really gets started.
iRunFar: So it’s a little, does that challenge you mentally, or do you know that that’s part of what happens for you?
Hogan: Yeah, I know that you know, you kind of just go up and down, and eventually I’ll start feeling good again. And, and that’s what happened.
iRunFar: Yeah, indeed. What was going on from Courmayeur up to Grand Col Ferret? You just flew. Because Katie wasn’t moving poorly but you made it 20 minutes on one climb.
Hogan: Yeah. Yeah, so I’m really someone who kind of goes on feeling and I was feeling great. When I got into Courmayeur, like I was, I was ready to go. And I started running and, you know, I did that first climb very fast. And then the other section is kind of like a section that is more of my strength than the rest of the course. So I just decided that I was going to go, go as fast as I could in that section or given the fact that I’m still running 100 miles, you know.
Hogan: But I was feeling good. And then when I got to Arnouvaz, I was told that I was only two minutes behind her. So that was quite shocking to me.
iRunFar: So there’s another big climb from Arnouvaz to, up to the col. And so did you end up catching her and spending some time together? Or how was that dynamic of actually passing?
Hogan: Yeah, I mean, we’re racing 170k and not like 100k or however that is. So I was just like, oh, she’s there. I can see her. I’m not in a hurry. I mean, there’s no reason to be the first at the top. So, I was just kind of staying behind and taking that climb easy. But when we got to the top, I also really like downhill. So, and that’s a really nice downhill to kind of go for it. So I just, I just decided that it was a good time for me to accelerate and take her on.
iRunFar: And while you’re behind her for some kilometers, are you observing, sort of seeing how she looks, gauging energy or …?
Hogan: Yeah, well, I was told at Arnouvaz that she had thrown up. And I could see that she was incredibly white, her face was very white. And I told her after the race, because I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to, you know, I didn’t. Sometimes it can be maybe like terrifying if someone tells you that you look really sick, but I was actually pretty worried for her. But she obviously turned it around. So I’m really happy that she was able to do that. But I noticed that she was not feeling well for sure.
iRunFar: So when you’re getting to La Fouly, Champex-Lac, do you think like, “All right, I’m feeling great. I’m in the lead. This is mine to win.” Or what?
Hogan: Yeah, I mean, I was feeling really good at that point. I was just like, you know, it’s as if I just started the race. I was feeling great. But the climb going up to Champex-Lac is where I started getting mechanical issues. Which is, which is pretty disappointing, to be honest. It’s kind of heartbreaking, but it’s part of the game. You know, it’s … some things happen and you just have to deal with them. So, that’s what I did.
iRunFar: Yeah. So, fill us in a little bit on what that was.
Hogan: Yeah, so I’ve been dealing with some injuries for quite some time. I spiral fractured my right tibia and fibula three years ago now, and I’ve been dealing with some repercussions ever since. And my left side is always the one compensating. And I’ve noticed that maybe, like if I do like a higher load of training or a race like UTMB will do that to you. So my left side was just trying to completely jam and what was going on is my hip completely stopped working. And it was every time that I lifted my leg it’s as if like a knife was going through it. So it was incredibly painful. And at that point, I just knew that my only goal was to finish and I think that that’s what I did.
iRunFar: How did you have the courage to do that? Like I mean, I’m looking down and you’re wearing sandals and you have these awful cuts between the top of your foot and your ankle, and that looks like it would be painful, but you’re not even thinking about that. Your hip is so much worse. How do you decide to continue?
Hogan: I mean, I came out here to have a good time and I know, I knew that I was going to have a good time if I finish. And you know, when you take part in the race, there are certain reasons why, and for me, it was clear that I wanted to finish. And I was still in a pretty good spot. Like it’s not as if I was still in second, and there was some talk that I could hold on to second even if I was going to have to walk my way through the finish. So there was no … there was never a time where I said I was going to stop. But there was definitely a time, or lots of times, where I was like, this is not fun. [laughs]
iRunFar: I mean, watching on camera like it, sort of at both sides of Vallorcine, it’s quite flat.
iRunFar: And like bike paths, like you’re walking the flat and not even fast.
Hogan: No, no. I could not. That was actually the worst part of the race. I don’t know why.
Hogan: I don’t know why it got so worse, so bad. But on the way down to Vallorcine, that whole descent, which is a pretty good descent, easily runnable, I could just walk it. Like I couldn’t even lift my leg. And I had to use the poles with every step. So I was going so slow and it was pretty discouraging. But I kept moving forward, and I think that’s what you need to do, you know.
iRunFar: How did you manage the pain? Talking to somebody, not crewing you, but somebody who is I think following the race, she was saying like your pain management or your ability to tolerate pain is off the charts.
Hogan: Yeah. I mean, I have a list of injuries that kind of provided good experience for me, but I don’t know. To me pain, I mean, I know that it’s kind of a cheesy line, but I think pain is temporary and that’s just what I reminded myself of. You know, like I’m in pain right now, but I’m going to be happy that I pulled through. So I was just, my sole focus was to make it to the finish line and I just had to kind of make abstraction of the pain that was that I was going through.
iRunFar: Yeah. And how did it feel when you finally were coming into Chamonix in the last kilometer or two?
Hogan: It’s really funny, though, because I was told that Kaytlyn [Gerbin] was picking up on me and so I like really tried to run that last downhill which, which I think kind of made the pain completely worse. So, even running through Chamonix, I was worried that she was catching on to me. And I was like this is not where I want to be, where I want to be caught. So, but it was still, running through Chamonix is definitely I think one of the highlights of the race. But, minus Saint Gervais. Running through Saint Gervais was quite good.
iRunFar: Because you still feel good at 30 kilometers. Yeah. Was it even maybe more fulfilling or more, I mean finishing second at UTMB is amazing. In those last kilometers, you’re hitting the line, did it feel like even more of an accomplishment because it was such a difficult finish?
Hogan: Yeah. It’s kind of crazy, the feelings that I have right now and I’m very grateful that I got second and I’m very happy. I’m just kind of disappointed that a mechanical issue made it really difficult for me. And it’s really something that I want to work to repair because clearly if I don’t change something it’s going to keep happening. So it was very fulfilling, and I was incredibly happy that I managed to do it, but there’s definitely a part of me that is just kind of thinking like, ah. Like I wish that hadn’t happened, but it did and, and I did the very best I could, given the circumstances.
iRunFar: Maybe you’ll try again here someday?
Hogan: Definitely. I’m coming back for sure.
iRunFar: One thing I wanted to ask you about is how you were incredibly versatile this season. To be on the podium at Western States 100, which is mountainous, but it’s much more runnable.
iRunFar: This is a very rugged mountain race in terms of elevation profile. How do you combine those two seasons and succeed at both?
Hogan: Yeah, I think it’s a good question. I think that for me, the sole focus of this season was Western States. And you know, the whole build-up was I was building up with Western States, and UTMB was more of a bonus. So when people kept asking me like, “Oh, how are you going to manage both?” I was like, “Well, I mean, I’ll have four weeks. Because two weeks off after Western, four weeks to build, and then two weeks to relax.”
So I just, I just did the best that I could within those four weeks, which I think I really maximized my elevation gain. And I came out here earlier in August. So as early August, I was out in Chamonix running as much vert as I could. And it’s crazy how quickly the body adapts. I’m definitely not, I definitely wouldn’t say that my strength is hiking and walking up hills, but I was able to get better at it during those few weeks and I think that that’s how I was able to accomplish both races, I guess.
iRunFar: Yeah. In Courmayeur, I heard you say, “I can’t eat gels.” Is that all the time or was that just yesterday?
Hogan: It’s really hard for me. Like sometimes when my body is just like, it’s going through all of these ups and downs. Like I feel like my stomach is just, it has difficulty taking gels. Which I still am able to, but I tried to focus more on taking some purees which are a little thicker. And then real food, I tried because it’s easier for me to, it’s also like I get hungry. I don’t know, like in the middle of races, yeah, like I’m starving. I can eat like.
iRunFar: You want something to sate your stomach.
Hogan: Exactly. Yeah.
iRunFar: So you say you want real food, but you also had a lot of Coca-Cola.
iRunFar: How much Coke do you think you drank?
Hogan: [laughs] I don’t know. I don’t think I want to ask myself the question. You know, ultrarunning I would say is, the joke is like ultrarunning is healthy and everything but I consumed too much Coke yesterday. [laughs]
iRunFar: You also had some pizza. Did you have any other good food out there?
Hogan: I had some sandwiches and pizza. And like I was taking some cheese at the aid stations. Like that’s the kind of food that I’m able to consume fine. Like I don’t necessarily, I mean, I say this but I also had quite the digestion problems at Western States. And I was having a little bit of problems yesterday, too. So I don’t know. I think for me, I tried to eat what I’m craving at the moment and not try to plan you know, x gels per hour just because it’ll just make me sick and that’s not good.
iRunFar: So you had mechanical issues. You had some trouble eating. What do you dream you could do if you, if you can continue to work on those things?
Hogan: Yeah, I don’t know. But I guess, I guess I’m going to work to find out.
iRunFar: There you go.
Hogan: Yeah, yeah.
iRunFar: Is your season over? Are you going to give yourself a little break or are you going to transition to train for some other race now?
Hogan: No, no, no. I think that … I think that doing the double is very tricky. And I realized that. I understand that. And I would like to stay in the ultrarunning scene for more than just a year. So I’m going to take some time off. I’m not going to put anything else on the schedule for a little while. The next race I have on the schedule is Western States 2023.
iRunFar: All right. We’ll see you there. Congratulations on a great race.
Hogan: Thank you.