Canada’s Marianne Hogan reached a long-term goal in taking third at the 2022 Western States 100. In the following interview, Marianne talks about how she managed back pain by hiking easily the uphills when it hurt and bombing the downhills when it didn’t, working through and recovering from a long vomiting spell in the middle of the race, and what it was like to take third at Western States after her long recovery from injury.
[Editor’s Note: Marianne has a dizzy spell in this interview. She’s okay, is fine with sharing this interview, and was such a champion in doing an interview in significant heat.]
For more on how the race played out, read our 2022 Western States 100 results article.
Marianne Hogan Post-2022 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Marianne Hogan, it’s the day after the 2022 Western States 100. Well, congratulations on your third place Marianne.
Marianne Hogan: Thank you, thank you that means a lot.
iRunFar: How are you feeling today?
Hogan: I’m feeling good, I’m feeling better than I was at the finish line or actually five minutes after the finish yesterday.
iRunFar: You had a rough after-race experience, or rather it started in the middle of the race, didn’t it?
Hogan: Yeah, I had some, excuse my language, projectile vomit right after Last Chance aid station. So it was kind of difficult to get back from that but eventually I was able to keep some food in me and get some liquids back in. It’s just that when the race finished and I started throwing up again.
iRunFar: Well, we’ll get to maybe that experience slightly more intimately, and you said that very politely. But let’s back up to the start of the race because we talked about in our pre-race interview that you are dealing with a recovery from ankle stuff but I guess you also had some back issues going on?
Hogan: Yeah, I had some back issues going on, I was trying to just play it under the rug and trying to not make it a reality.
iRunFar: I’m fine, everything’s fine.
Hogan: Everything’s fine. But I’ve been dealing with some pretty serious back pain for the last two weeks. So I was actually really worried as to what would happen on the day of the race. And it was especially painful going uphill. It made for an interesting race strategy and people were probably like, what is this girl doing, bombing down the downhill and going easy on the uphill? But somehow it worked out for me. So I’m glad that I was able to make it to the finish line.
iRunFar: That is an interesting race strategy. And your quads and downhill legs kept themselves together the whole time?
Hogan: Yeah, well I mean back pain aside, going downhill is usually my strength. So I was glad that I could use that. I think if my back was hurting on the downhill, I think that would have made it really, really hard for me. Especially considering there is so much downhill.
iRunFar: Now sort of like big picture, watching you race yesterday, you are sort of in the mix for podium position early on. Maybe the race’s first third and then you backed off a bit in the middle before reemerging onto the podium in the race’s final third. But that had to do more with you managing the stomach situation rather than what was going on with the rest of the race?
Hogan: Yeah, definitely. Because I started feeling really sick when I got to Robinson Flat aid station. So that whole section from Robinson Flat all the way to Last Chance, I was just feeling so sick, so sick. And so eventually when I did throw up, it actually made me feel really better.
iRunFar: That’s funny. Ultrarunning.
Hogan: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I don’t know what was going on but whatever, I got it out of my system. Absolutely the challenge from that point began to be like, now I have to replenish. It was a difficult spot to replenish because we were going into some canyons and it’s really, really hot. I took the two canyons super easy. I did not push anything, just you know, one foot in front of the other. And try to keep in mind that we’re running 100 miles and it’s an ultra, and you’re going to have lows and you’re going to have highs and that was definitely a low point for me.
iRunFar: It sounded like there was some mental stuff going on there. Or rather psychologically trying to triage and work through things, but then also the physical component of getting your stomach back to get nutrition in. Was it like 50/50, dealing with mind and body or how are things actually playing out for you then?
Hogan: Yeah, well in an ultra, you know, your mental game goes left and right. You are like, ah, at some point, today is all about finishing, you know? And then you get to an aid station and someone tells you, “You’re actually doing really well, you can get to the podium.” And then your mind shifts, and it was really helpful, that kind of external positivity. I had a really big crew out there and they were just very, very friendly, very supportive and that really, really helped me get out of that mental, maybe negative state.
iRunFar: Honestly, coming into Foresthill, mile 62, of all of the top 10 men and women, you had the biggest party going on. Like the biggest crew, the most rambunctiousness and excitedness.
Hogan: Yeah, I’m really happy that everyone made it out. My entire family was out there and some of my closest friends, who also paced me. So that really, really helped me. I think from Foresthill is really where I had like a mental click in my mind that I’m like okay, I’m taking food again. And also, I don’t know how many people told me that the race starts at Foresthill and I was just ready to go, you know?
iRunFar: You are telling yourself that over and over again?
Hogan: Over and over. I was like, okay it’s time to go now.
iRunFar: One of the fascinating things of watching sort of the entire women’s race was just how close the top 10 women were, that far into the race. Given that you had a lot of stuff on your own going on, were you sort of gaming or yeah, thinking about that women’s race game at that point? Or when did your position sort of come to your mind again?
Hogan: I think at Green Gate aid statin, because I ended up crossing Green Gate in fourth place. And that’s really when my crew was saying, “Oh, Emily’s [Hawgood] not far.” I’m really not one to accelerate because someone’s there, I just do my own race and I’m just thinking, eventually if things go well for me I will catch her. So, for me it was just a matter of keep moving, keep moving, keep pushing. And the idea of, you’ve gotta keep looking forward and not think about who’s back, that’s what I was trying to do. I was just like, keep moving, keep moving. I think that was the section that I pushed through the most is from Green Gate, all the way to the finish.
iRunFar: And so, when did you move into third place exactly?
Hogan: I moved into third place maybe like, two miles after Auburn Lakes Trails aid station.
iRunFar: Okay. What is that, a half marathon to go, maybe something like that, 20k?
Hogan: Yeah, something like that, something like that.
iRunFar: And at that point are you looking forward, are you looking back, being like, I’m defending this podium spot at all cost, or is it just management?
Hogan: It’s definitely management but it’s also, it’s also quite fun to realize that you’re on the podium of Western States. So I was kind of holding on to that and just kept thinking, okay you can just maintain, maintain, keep moving. And it’s important at that point of the race to realize that everyone is going through some pain. You know, at that point that was just what I was telling myself is, yeah it’s hurting but if I slow down, it’s not going to hurt less and people behind are hurting as well so you’ve just got to keep moving and that’s what I was telling myself.
iRunFar: We talked in our prerace interview about how this was sort of like the culmination of some stuff for you, like you had an emergence into ultrarunning four or five years ago. You had a severe injury. You’ve been building back to running this, running your debut hundred miles. Has that all occurred to you yet? Yes, I did it, I achieved my goal? Where are you at right this moment?
Hogan: Yeah, I don’t think I’ve realized it quite yet. I’m just like, woah I got third, that’s mind blowing to me. I think at some point just finishing would have been a victory to me and I think the biggest victory for me is really making it to the start line. It is a challenge for me, just because of all the injuries that I’ve been dealing with. But I’m glad that I was able to pull through with a third-place finish.
iRunFar: It’s an unfair question to ask less than 24 hours from the finish but, this is one of those coveted things – you okay?
Hogan: Yeah, yeah, I’m okay. [looks a little faint]
iRunFar: Are you sure?
Hogan: I’m okay, but I’m definitely falling a little bit. I’m okay, I’m okay, it’s just a little hot.
iRunFar: Congratulations on your third-place finish, you are amazing.
Hogan: Thank you, thank you.
iRunFar: Let’s go sit down.