‘…this is the trouble with endurance sports; that you’ve got time to be thinking negative thoughts and that can have a big detriment on your race.’
I was introduced to Ellie Greenwood by a mutual friend who said of Ellie: she was ’a tremendous athlete, high-performance coach, avid volunteer, community ambassador, engaging storyteller, she is an incredibly funny and genuine person’.
And having spoken to her, I agree; all of those things are true.
But, I have to confess - as I sat there reading my friend's email, Ellie's name was familiar to me.
But I just couldn't place it.
Once I started doing my research, it suddenly came to me; she’s the Western States Endurance Run 100 course record holder!
Ellie won Western States - one of the world’s most famous and revered 100mi (160km) races - in 2011 and 2012.
And in 2012, she smashed the course record, finishing in 16 hours 47 minutes. Her record still stands today!
She’s also a 2x winner of the World 100km Championship and in 2014, she won the world’s largest and oldest ultra marathon, the Comrades Marathon (an 89km race in South Africa).
In this conversation, we touch on some of her key races, but Ellie also shares much of the behind-the-scenes:
* how her athletic identity changed from someone who ran for fun to someone who was a potential winner,
* how the ‘wheels fell off’ early in 3 of her most important races, yet she was able to hang on, regroup and ultimately win (the lesson for me from this - you don’t need to have the ‘perfect race’ to achieve the best result you can),
* her struggle with injuries and her advice on how to get your running ‘fix’ when you’re unable to run and how to remain optimistic when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,
* how it took her 2nd win at the Western States 100 for her to finally call herself a 100-mile runner,
* whether she secretly crosses her fingers and hopes that no-one breaks her record each time the Western States 100 rolls around,
* her encounter with a bear during the last few kilometres at Western States 100 in 2011 as she raced towards the finish line in the lead,
* whether her legs hurt more after doing 89km on the road at the Comrades Marathon as opposed to 160km on the trails at Western States 100, and
* what’s she’s gained from running.
Notes and resources: