Canada’s Marianne Hogan has wanted to race the Western States 100 ever since she got into ultrarunning about five years ago. In our first interview with Marianne, she talks about her history in triathlon, her switch to trail ultrarunning in 2017, the long injury that kept her away from sports until 2021, and why Western States appeals so much to her.
Marianne Hogan Pre-2022 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar here with Marianne Hogan. It’s a couple of days before the 2022 Western States 100. Hi, Marianne. It’s nice to meet you.
Marianne Hogan: Hi, it’s very nice to meet you as well. Thanks for having me.
iRunFar: Well, I have literally just arrived in California but you’ve been here for a month, so you’re like the California local now.
Hogan: [laughs] Yeah, pretty much, I guess.
iRunFar: We’re hanging out here at Folsom Lake. You’re like having a picnic on a casual Tuesday afternoon. We’re maybe 10 or 15 minutes from the finish line of Western States. How does it feel to be here now, right now?
Hogan: It’s so exciting. It was a long journey to make it to Western States, so I’m glad I’m here and it’s really nice to just be enjoying it a few days before the start.
iRunFar: I love it. This is iRunFar’s first interview with you, so I’d love to know a little bit about your story — how you got into trail running and ultrarunning, and what life is like for you outside of running?
Hogan: Yeah, for sure. Well, I started off as a triathlete when I was younger; I did the buildup as triathlon all the way to college. And then when it was time for me to go to college, I went to California, actually, and I did five years of track and cross country out there. And when that was over, I still loved running a lot but I was really over all the pacing and things like that.
So, the transition to trail running was just very smooth for me. I just transitioned to trail running and then really quickly kind of got caught into the ultrarunning scene, which I really, really enjoyed. And then I definitely had a little hiatus there since 2017. But I’m glad to be back now.
iRunFar: We were talking off-camera that your break between like 2017 and 2021 was due to a leg fracture, like a pretty serious one.
Hogan: Yeah, I actually had a spiral fracture of my tibia and fibula. I actually broke it while I was running, out on a trail run, and that required multiple surgeries for me to get back and multiple years of work. But I’m glad I’m able to get back out there and enjoy the trails again with a pretty good, healthy body, I would say.
iRunFar: I love it. You came back in 2021 to racing. You raced Ultra-Trail Harricana and then Ultra-Trail Cape Town. And then Bandera 100k. Did I get them all?
Hogan: Yes, you got them all. That was enough of a return for me.
iRunFar: That’s quite the return. When did you set, where in that process did you set your sights on wanting to do this race, Western States?
Hogan: Well, I guess I’ve been wanting to register for a Golden Ticket race ever since I started doing ultras back in 2017. It just took a really long time for me to even consider being able to register and 2022 was really the first year that I was healthy enough to consider that. So, I actually registered for all three Golden Ticket races in the U.S.
iRunFar: I love it.
Hogan: And I was determined to do everything it took to get it done, and I was happy that I was able to secure a Golden Ticket at Bandera, which was the first race that I did.
iRunFar: I love it. That’s a throwback to Emily Hawgood 2021 where she was like, “I’m doing the Golden Ticket races until I get my ticket.”
Hogan: Yeah, a lot of people have been using that comparison, which I love.
iRunFar: I love it too. Yeah. So, you came here for Western States Memorial Day Training Camp, which was, yeah, exactly a month ago now.
iRunFar: And you decided to stay?
Hogan: Yeah, I decided to stay. It was actually perfect because right after Memorial Day camp, we got a house with the Salomon team. And there’s a couple of us athletes, international athletes that were sharing a house, which has been really nice because we’ve been acclimating but also just enjoying each other’s company and discovering the trails. Not only the Western States trails, but other trails in the region, which has been really nice.
iRunFar: What do you think of this region? It’s so diverse, you know, we’re down in the heat right now but you know, an hour and a half away it’s 10,000 feet elevation and there’s snow.
Hogan: Yeah, it’s quite funny because the past two weekends we’ve been going to Lake Tahoe, the Olympic Valley, and the past few weekends we’ve been freezing. [laughs] We’ve had like a thunderstorm one day and a pretty cold weekend the other weekends. It’s quite funny actually to see the contrast and driving from the cold all the way to the heat, it’s a really nice experience. It kind of gives us a taste of what we’ll experience on Saturday, I guess.
iRunFar: You’re being, I mean you’re being a proper Californian. You’re going to the mountains for the weekend. You’re coming and hanging out at the California beach.
Hogan: [laughs] Exactly. We’re going for the full California experience.
iRunFar: I love it. Speaking of the California experience, you’ve seen a good portion of the trail now.
Hogan: Yeah, I’m just missing actually the top from, the portion from the top of the escarpment, all the way to Robinson Flat, which I’m excited to be able to discover a new portion of the course for sure. But I’m glad that I got to see the last portion as well.
iRunFar: I love it. What have you noticed or observed like the things that are really cool about what you’re going to experience this weekend and what do you think is going to challenge you?
Hogan: It’s pretty interesting because Western States people always say that it’s such a downhill race, which it is. There’s so much downhill, which I’m very excited by. That’s what I’m most excited about. I really love the downhill, I always have. Ever since I broke my leg, that changed a little bit, but I’m getting back to loving that.
But when we did the Memorial camp, I was actually kind of surprised as to how much uphill there is or actually how steep the uphill is. The steepness of the uphill, I think, is what surprised me most. But I’m glad that I saw it and now I know what to expect and it doesn’t scare me or anything. It was just kind of a surprise for me.
iRunFar: It’s funny that it is called a downhill race because I think the offset is only like 4,000 feet.
iRunFar: It’s, yeah, it’s downhill but there’s still like 18,000 feet of climbing at this race.
Hogan: Yes, which people don’t, they don’t hang on to that so much. Everyone says it’s a downhill race. So you just focus on that.
iRunFar: I love it. Okay, so my last question for you. You’ve been a Californian for a month now. What are some interesting things that you’ve noticed, absorbed? Like, really liked about California culture?
Hogan: Yeah, well like I said earlier, when I was going to school, I went to California so I kind of already had a five-year California experience, but I really just love, obviously this region is completely different. The mountains, the trails. Back when I was in California actually, I didn’t run any trails. So it was nice for me to explore these. I mean the trails. The Western States trail is just absolutely gorgeous.
And we also got a chance to go run like the PCT [Pacific Coast Trail] and the Tahoe Rim Trail, which is really exciting. So that’s definitely some of the things that I appreciated the most since I’ve been here but also the community. It’s nice to just be walking in Auburn and have people ask us, like, “Oh, are you doing the 100 miles?” Which is just very enjoyable and it’s nice to be able to soak it in for a whole month, you know.
iRunFar: Auburn calls itself the endurance capital of the world and it like really is, isn’t it?
Hogan: [laughs] Yeah, it definitely is.
iRunFar: Alright. Well, best of luck to you on Saturday and it will be fun to watch you run downhill and uphill on the Western States course.
Hogan: Definitely. Thank you.