Stephanie Howe won the 2014 Western States 100 in her 100-mile debut. It was also the fourth-fastest women’s time in the race’s history. In this finish-line interview with John Trent, Stephanie talks about how surprised she was about winning, how she stayed so calm and collected all day, and when she let the enormity of her accomplishment set in.
Stephanie Howe, 2014 Western States 100 Champ, Finish-Line Interview Transcript
John Trent: Stephanie, you got in the race the old-fashioned way, the lottery. Obviously, as John pointed out, you won a bunch of other races after that that would have got you in (without) the lottery. Tell us about December. Were you actually paying attention to the lottery and were you wanting to be chosen?
Stephanie Howe: I was. I wanted to do this race for about two years, so it was pretty exciting, and then I didn’t have any pressure.
Trent: No pressure, awesome. Tell us a little about the day today. Early on—you led a lot of the race—but early on, Emily Harrison was out there as well. When did you take over and how did the race progress after you took over?
Howe: I took over at about 33 miles and then just didn’t look back. I’m pretty good at downhills, so that favored me. I just kind of cruised down and just tried to keep picking up the pace.
Trent: You’ve come here and run in the canyons before. What was it like today to get in there? It was a cool-ish day, but I know the heat was perhaps a concern for you. How did you handle the heat in there?
Howe: It was a concern coming into the race, but it wasn’t too hot today so I felt great. I actually felt better today than on any of the training runs I did here. I just fueled well, and I started slow which is what I wanted to do. I had some great mentors who told me about the course and gave me tips on how to run 100 miles, so that made a big difference.
Trent: You’re such an outstanding athlete. You’ve done a lot of things. Still though, there was that element of having never run 100 miles. How did you deal with that mentally so it wouldn’t kind of overtake the day where you’re at the point where, “Oh my goodness, now I’ve run 100k which maybe my longest ever. Now I’ve run 70 miles, the longest I’ve ever run ever.”
Howe: Yeah, I was nervous to see how my body would respond, but I just kept taking good care of myself. I fueled well. I hydrated well. I was definitely nervous when I got to about 65 miles because that’s my limit up until today. Honestly, no one is more surprised than me to cross the finish line first today. I’m so excited.
Trent: What was it like for you seeing the lights of the stadium when you were getting close? What were some of the emotions you were feeling knowing that, yeah, you were going to win the race?
Howe: I was excited. I had a big grin on my face and I couldn’t wait for the track.
Trent: When you were running with your pacer there, obviously you guys get along very well, were you guys discussing anything at that point trying to maintain good form looking good for everybody or were you just trying to savor the moment of being here after a long day’s work.
Howe: Just trying to savor.
Trent: Which you guys did. One last thing—I know this is a tough question after you’ve just run 100 miles and you’re standing here. Do you think you’ll come back next year and maybe defend your title?
Howe: I don’t know.
Trent: Ladies and gentlemen, the women’s champion, Stephanie Howe!