Interview: Ellie Greenwood

Ellie Greenwood has set the world of Ultra running on fire in recent years. In 2010 she became the IAU World 100km Road Racing Champion and the following year she won the feted Western States 100 and was Voted Female Ultrarunner of the Year. Adding to these accolades Ellie also holds 10 (that’s right, TEN) course records including the Calgary and Edmonton Marathons!

In 2012 Ellie has won the Ultra Race of Champions, finishing 8th overall in the field and 47 minutes ahead of the nearest female! She beat her own course record at the Chuckanut 50km race by three minutes and then went on to finish second (Women’s race) in the famous Comrade Marathon in South Africa! Let us also not forget a brilliant defence of her Western States title from 2011 with a new course record and a first place finish at the CCC – Courmayeur to Chamonix race.

At this juncture, I will say that these are just a few of the races I’ve picked out for comment that Ellie has smashed in 2012 – check out her blog to see what other amazing feats 2012 has held for her!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you an interview with a true Ultrarunning great!

When did you start running and did you have any particular reasons for starting?

I ran my first real race – Great North Run half marathon when I was about 20 and at university. I always ran cross country at school and enjoyed running for fitness but it was not competitive and very low key, all about participation rather than being too serious. On moving to Canada I ran another half marathon and then had a group of friends who decided to run a a marathon so I took that opportunity as it appealed to me and was approachable to have a group to train with.

If you could run with and/or race anyone, anywhere who would it be and where? Over what distance and on which surface?

I love the idea of going to Iten in Kenya’s Rift Valley for training! It would be an amazing learning experience to be surrounded by so many top level African runners and just live their life for a few weeks to see what it is like. I wouldn’t say there is one particular person I would love to run with but just to be surrounded by people who live and breathe running and live that whole lifestyle in somewhere still relatively removed from the trappings of a big city.

Running wise, who do you look up to and who has inspired you?

Many people have inspired me and continue to do so in the world of ultra running. People like Lizzy Hawker, Krissy Moehl, Nikki Kimball and others are great role models for women in ultra running for the longevity of their careers and the way they push the boundaries with what they have achieved. In the more wider world of running someone like Paula Radcliffe is a big inspiration, she has achieved so much yet always seems to want to achieve more, and she clearly trains exceptionally hard to achieve what she has.

What are your favourite training conditions and are they the same as your favourite racing conditions?

I’ll take any weather to train in so long as it’s not freezing cold. Some of my favourite runs are spring or autumn where there is some warmth but there is a coolness in the air too. These are probably ideal racing conditions as well for me and I’ll always opt for slightly cooler rather than too hot, although I love summer running I’m less adapted to heat than cold.

What is your fondest memory of running and, conversely, your worst?
I have so many find memories from running it is hard just to choose one! Probably most of my favourite memories come from trail run training with friends at home here in Vancouver, BC. In the summer we tend to head out for more adventure runs such as the Juan de Fuca 47km trail on Vancouver Island and it’s about having a fun trip away on new trails with a bunch of good people. Worst memory of running has likely got to be injury related when I couldn’t run or running was painful. I had an SI injury in December 2010 which meant I missed racing a 50 miler in San Francisco; I still went to the event in the vague hope that I could run but pulled out the morning of the race. Although it was great to cheer friends on it was frustrating, not so much not being able to race, just not even being able to go out for a 30min run.

Where do you see yourself in six years?

I’m pretty happy with where I am right now so in 6 years I would certainly like to build on that but not make radical changes. I see myself still competing at hopefully the level I am now. I can possibly see that running may become more of a full time job for me, but I am not set on that – I’ll see what doors open. I see myself continuing to race on both roads and trail at ultra distance and would hope that in 6yrs I will have improved my marathon and road 100km times, as well as still travelling to new places to explore the trails. It’s really hard to say as six years ago I would not have expected to be the runner I am now.

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