Stevie Kremer is truly a force to be reckoned with on the Skyrunning scene right now. This year, she’s racked up wins at the prestigious and competitive Zegama Marathon and Sierre-Zinal. And now this, a win at the 2014 Matterhorn Ultraks 46k. In the following interview, listen as Stevie unravels her day, talks about where and how she was able to use the course to enhance her strengths, and the interplay of the very strong women’s field.
Have a look at our results article for the full story on the 2014 Matterhorn Ultraks 46k.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Stevie Kremer, 2014 Matterhorn Ultraks 46k Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Stevie Kremer after her win at the 2014 Matterhorn Ultraks 46k. Congratulations, Stevie.
Stevie Kremer: Thanks, Bryon. It was great to see you here.
iRunFar: It was a great time out there. What a beautiful day here in the Alps.
Kremer: We lucked out. It was incredible. I had so many views of the Matterhorn, and it was like I could touch it, it was so close.
iRunFar: Weather-wise, it was about the nicest day I’ve ever seen in the Alps.
Kremer: Yes. I’ve never been more comfortable in a temperature. It was awesome.
iRunFar: The race itself, the longest, the most elevation, the most distance and time-wise…
Kremer: Well, I have done one or two that were at this similar distance, but time-wise it’s definitely the longest.
iRunFar: Early on, you didn’t go out in front of everybody. You went out with…
Kremer: Nope, so there were three girls in front. I was one of them. It starts with a climb and it’s definitely where I try to get some advantage because I am a better climber than downhill. So the three of us stuck together pretty well. Then there was this super long down…
iRunFar: It was you, Kasie [Enman], and Elisa Desco.
Kremer: Exactly. Then the first downhill, the first long descent, those two—Kasie and Elisa—just took off. That’s where I tried to hold back because I knew my legs would be shot and I knew I had at least one huge climb left. So, that was my goal. I think with me holding back on the down, I had some… still to be able to do that long, long climb that was still ahead.
iRunFar: That’s pretty good sport psych for someone who’s not race that long of a time before to know that it’s not time to go yet.
Kremer: Well, I just remember someone telling me that there are four climbs in this race. We had had two climbs. So I knew there was a big climb coming. I had never previewed the course. I didn’t know what to expect. Actually, Kilian [Jornet] was on one part and I asked him, “So do we go down again or up again?” He goes, “You go up a little bit more and then it’s a very long downhill.” So I knew I was done with the ups and that’s why I was able to cruise on the last downhill.
iRunFar: From Trift?
iRunFar: Did you have any rough patches along the way? It seemed like you rolled pretty well the whole time.
Kremer: I mean, that last definitely that last eight or 10k played mind games because it kind of went up and then it dropped and then it went up again. That was hard, but I felt pretty good throughout the race, yeah.
iRunFar: That’s got to be hard because you don’t know where they are. You’ve got Kasie, you’ve got Emelie [Forsberg], you’ve got Maite [Maiora] you’ve got Elisa—they could just be a minute behind you.
Kremer: That’s the thing. You have to go in with confidence saying, Okay, I’m going to let these girls go ahead of me and hope that they kind of slow down on the next climb and I can catch them. There’s some… I have to be confident in my thoughts. I had never seen Emelie or Maite. I saw Emelie in the initial climbs. I’d look back and she was close, but Maite, we never saw. So to see her come in third was awesome for her but oh, my gosh, totally unexpected from not being able to see her at all. A lot of times you can gauge by cheers because by the time the girls come the top 10 or 20 boys are already through.
iRunFar: It’s kind of quiet for the rest of the guys.
Kremer: Yeah, but for girls it’s like an uproar. So I kept listening every time we passed a group of people. If there was loud, loud cheering I would kind of know a girl was somewhat close.
iRunFar: It’s like a treat that you could hear that you were a couple minutes…
Kremer: Yeah, but I refused to look. I refused to see. I just went for it.
iRunFar: So did you have a point where you were, Alright, this race is mine.
Kremer: No, because Elisa and Kasie and Emelie know how to descend so well. With 8k of descending technical or somewhat technical, well it was not technical, they could be anywhere. They could be right behind me or they could be five minutes back. I’m never confident until I cross that finish line.
iRunFar: With the initial elevation gain, were you afraid you weren’t going to have that climbing ability or that your quads were going to blow out or anything like that?
Kremer: I’m really scared of cramping. Knock on wood, I’ve never cramped, but the up-down-up-down-up-down, a lot of people cramp. Their legs cramp. That’s what I was scared was going to happen.
iRunFar: Didn’t happen?
Kremer: Knock on wood, no.
iRunFar: Maybe the secret is arriving at 8 p.m. the night before the race.
Kremer: Yeah, I think tomorrow is going to be a rough day.
iRunFar: You leave in about a half-an-hour?
Kremer: Yes. Well, my flight is early tomorrow morning, so I have to get back to Geneva tonight.
iRunFar: But in Zermatt where the race was, you’re going to be here 18 hours?
Kremer: A little less than 20 hours, yes. School starts.
iRunFar: How do you manage the travel? That’s hard. I know a lot of people want to go out a week or three or four days or a week beforehand to get relaxed and acclimated.
Kremer: I almost think sometimes going there for one to two days before a race is way better than a week. The build-up to a big race like this only creates nerves for me. I think the day before is a little too close to the race, but two days before is perfect. You have one night to sleep for the jetlag and then another night before the race. Yeah, two nights before is perfect. This was a little too short, but I’m glad I came.
iRunFar: Yeah. You’ve had a lot of great battles with Emelie over the last two years and continued it this year. Were you surprised that you were a good bit ahead?
Kremer: Yeah, I was very surprised. I think Emelie is going to longer distances though. I don’t know if that has anything to do with it. She trains a lot. She runs. She loves the mountains.
iRunFar: A lot more volume than you?
Kremer: I think so. I stick to my two or 2.5 hours per day—once in the morning before work and once after work.
iRunFar: You split that up into two runs.
Kremer: Yeah, I never go that long—maybe once per weekend I’ll go that long.
iRunFar: Normally just an hour or hour and a half out there?
iRunFar: With some intensity at least?
Kremer: Yeah, because I’m always in a rush, I feel like. So you always have to hurry which is probably good in the end.
iRunFar: Which is what you were doing today?
Kremer: Yeah, exactly.
iRunFar: That’s great. Where do you head to next, besides back to school on Monday, but where race-wise?
Kremer: Nothing is in the books until Limone in Italy, and that’s October; so I have six weeks. Laaaa!
iRunFar: So you’re not going to The Rut?
Kremer: No, I can’t. My best friend is getting married.
iRunFar: Speaking of which, congratulations on your engagement.
Kremer: Thank you. Thanks! Six and a half long years.
Kremer: Yeah. Hi, Marshall.
iRunFar: Nice work, Marshall.
Kremer: Big time. Just kidding.
Kremer: Yeah, it’s fun. I love Skyrunning and I love traveling for races, but it’s fun to have something else to look forward to.
iRunFar: Congratulations on both your great race this weekend and your engagement!
Kremer: Thanks! Thanks. Thanks for having me.