Nadeem Khan (NK): How was it crossing that finish line in first place in your inaugural race at the world championships?
Ellie Greenwood (EG): I don’t think the fact that I had won sunk in when I crossed the finish line! It was a tough race where I had gone through some lows before getting my second wind in the final 30km or so, and thus it took a while to sink in that I had managed to move from 3rd to 1st in the final 7km or so and actually won. It was great to have my family from the UK at the finish line.
NK: Is this something that you were hoping for when you entered the championships?
EG: Having run 7:36:39 at Elk Beaver in May I knew that if I ran a similar time again then I could definitely be in contention for a medal. But with the World Championships being only my second 100km race I knew I lacked experience, especially on tarmac and nothing is ever guaranteed. I also knew that with Lizzy Hawker and Monica Carlin racing that they were also racing to win so I would have to run hard.
NK: Can you take me through your race?
EG: I started out at what seemed like a steady pace running along side fellow GB runner Lizzy Hawker, although it was hard to gauge exact pace as with the slight course mix up at the start I was unsure how accurate the first 10km marker was. After a pit-stop early in the race I lost Lizzy but was happy to sit a little further back as I was aware that running side by side might make us run too hard and last thing we wanted was for us to both go out too fast. By 40km my injury prone hamstrings had begun to feel the effect of the tarmac and I passed through the marathon mark at about 3:02 and 50km at about 3:34. Although this seems fast I was happy with this pace. However, by 55km my hamstrings were really beginning to bother me and I feared that I would not be able to complete the race. After a short visit to the physio table my legs felt considerably better though despite taking on calories consistently by 70km I just felt I didn’t have the usual energy on my legs and was mentally struggling to think I could run 6 more laps at anything like a decent pace. At this point I put on hold any aspirations of winning or even placing well and continued to run simply for the team (we only had 3 women on the GB team so none of us could drop if we wanted to be in contention for a team medal). I’m not sure what happened on the 70 – 75km loop but with 25km to go I had got my second wind and was getting back on pace. With 3 loops (approx 15km) to go I knew I was gaining on Monica and Lizzy and overtook them both in quite quick succession on the penultimate loop. I pushed the pace to try to extend my lead as I didn’t know if Monica and Lizzy tend to have strong finishes and I wanted to avoid a sprint finish! It was a great feeling to enter the final lap in the lead, feeling strong and knowing that I just had to maintain my pace for 5 more km to win.
NK: How was your overall feeling of Gibraltar and the IAU World & European Championships?
EG: It was my first experience of representing my country which was such a privilege and great experience in itself. Overall the event was excellently organized and all teams were really welcomed by the IAU and the local organizers. The course mix up at the start of the race was unfortunate but rectified well later in the race. Thankfully we had an overcast race day which meant the weather was perfect for racing and although the course was possibly not the fastest nor the most scenic it was well set up and coordinated. It was great to see so many countries represented at the Championships making it truly a World event.
NK: What is next on the running calendar for you?
EG: In early December I will be back to my more usual racing surface of trails, competing for Team Montrail at TNF Endurance Challenge 50 miler in San Francisco. I then plan to take a bit of a break from intense training in December before coming into 2011 with plans to run my first 100 miler. In 2011 I will continue to focus predominantly on rail racing whilst also competing at some road races.