Meg Mackenzie will run her second-longest race to date at the 2021 Les Templiers. In the following interview, the South African talks about her recent run at CCC, what she learned from the race, what she knows about Les Templiers, and how her move from South Africa to Chamonix in France has gone.
Meg Mackenzie Pre-2021 Les Templiers Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar, here with Meg Mackenzie before the 2021 Grand Trail des Templiers. How are you Meg?
Meg Mackenzie: Good, very good to see you again.
Mackenzie: It’s been a while.
iRunFar: It has been. Since we last chatted at Pikes Peak Marathon a couple years ago, you’ve run your first 100k this year at CCC.
Mackenzie: Yeah, so I’ve been dipping my toes into some ultras, well one ultra. And I’ve moved to Chamonix and a lot’s happened I think, since we last chatted.
iRunFar: Indeed. How did CCC go for you? It was a big step in distance.
Mackenzie: It was a big step up, yeah. I had no idea what to expect. I learned a lot. I guess like even the first aid station, I was like, wow this is the first aid station I’ve ever been in, in my life. Okay, this is it. So there were lots of learning curves. I had a really fun day and I love the course. So all in all, I’d say a very positive experience.
iRunFar: And it went well enough for a first?
Mackenzie: Well enough. Yeah, I think I can improve on a lot. But it’s what they’re there for right?
iRunFar: So this is your second race, or will be your second race above 70 kilometers, what lessons will you apply on Sunday?
Mackenzie: Oh, good question. I think I’m quite a conservative racer anyway, so I think I’ll stick to that for sure because I think the longer the distance the more that comes into play of course. So definitely, start conservative but I think to race with a little bit more confidence, and that I now know that distance and I know what to expect and, kind of the ups and downs and that you will get through the downs, those patches where you’re feeling really low, I now know that you do come out of them so that’s very, very helpful.
iRunFar: Which might be different than racing a trail marathon…
Mackenzie: Where you don’t come out of them or you don’t come out of them in time.
iRunFar: You don’t come out of them in time sometimes. So did you have some low patches during CCC that you did bounce out of?
Mackenzie: Yeah, I think especially because the crewing only starts at 55k, so toward the back end of that first half you really start to feel like, I really want to see someone. So that was a bit tough, and then because I was, my time was little slow, I ran into the dark and then that dark patch at the end was really tough as well, at the night. It was unusual.
iRunFar: Here you get the dark patch at the beginning [because the race starts before sunrise].
Mackenzie: True, so hopefully that won’t be the literal and figurative dark patch.
iRunFar: Do you think it will be hard at the beginning of this race because the start of this race is pretty fast and people also go out kind of aggressively? How do you think you’ll control that, with your background at sort of the shorter races?
Mackenzie: Yeah, I think that’s going to be a tough one to handle. I think, I’m sharing a room with the Ruth [Croft] so lots of advice has been exchanged and she just really said to keep in check, it will be dark and you can’t really latch on to anyone, so just really keep in check with the effort. And then make sure, I’ve heard it over and over that the last 15k of this race is really tough, so just keep thinking about that in the beginning and make sure I have enough for that.
iRunFar: Cool, that sounds like a good plan.
Mackenzie: Let’s see if it works out.
iRunFar: And this year you have also moved from, you’ve traveled all over the world, you’ve raced all over the world but you’ve moved from South Africa to Chamonix, here in France. How’s that will move treated you?
Mackenzie: It’s been really amazing and a lot tougher than I thought it would be.
iRunFar: How’s that?
Mackenzie: I think it’s just, I underestimated how much of the community I have in South Africa, I hope, that you can rely on and my family and everything. And for sure, I mean it’s been fun and exciting and new but it’s a big challenge, finding your niche in a new country. Plus the language barrier, and then I mean all the trails are completely different. I’ve run on them before but now I’m training on them every day so training has been very, very different too. I mean everything is so steep around there, it’s hard to find a nice runnable, fast trail, yeah, there’s been a couple of challenges.
iRunFar: And hopefully you’ve overcome them so far?
Mackenzie: Yes, I think so.
iRunFar: Have you learned anything about the trail running community here in France or the culture of trail running in France?
Mackenzie: I’ve definitely tried. I’ve joined a French club and I’ve attended some of their training sessions and things. It’s great, I’m learning a lot as an athlete because the French, kind of don’t hold back in training or racing. Very, very good athletes so I’m definitely learning a lot on that side too.
Mackenzie: Yeah, it’s been very good.
iRunFar: Hopefully they’ll push you on Sunday as well.
Mackenzie: I do hope so, that’ll be great.
iRunFar: Best of luck out there.
Mackenzie: Thank you so much.
iRunFar: Thank you.