It was her first miler, and what a place to do it, Western States 100. But that didn’t stop 22 year old Lucy Bartholomew from running the race she dreamed of running. She took it out from the front early doors and held on for a magnificent podium place to finished the highest placed Australian ever at Western States. If she continues to show up, I think Lucy is destined for some seriously great things at the oldest miler in the book. Here I managed to grab a bit of time from Lucy to run through how her race went and what some of those key moments were like.
How do you feel your preparation went? You spent four weeks in Squaw and then had a little fall with the knee just prior. Do you feel like you were in prime condition?
I am super lucky to have the gift of time and lack of commitments, so I was able to head to the USA four weeks prior to the race. I participated in the Memorial Day weekend training camp where we covered 70 miles of the course over three days. It was so much fun to enjoy the trails and meet the community although I spent so much time talking to others and taking selfies that I didn’t really ‘take in’ the track and how I would piece it together on race day.
I set out a week later for my final long run on the canyon section of the course and took a fall six miles down into the canyon. I thought I could keep moving and I was being stubborn and stupid because I wanted to finish this last long run and instead I was forced to hike and cry back up to the carpark and be collected. I thought my race was over. As it turned out I believe it was the world telling me to slow down, start resting and I think I was in my best condition thanks to that fall. Everyone who I whined to said “this is great preparation for your race, nothing ever goes to plan. Now it’s how you deal with it”. I learned a lot from this scar.
Whats it like being over in Squaw ahead of the race? Tell us a little about the vibe over there.
Oh man! I have attended some of the biggest races in the world and there is something subtle and unique about the build up to this race. We arrived to the start in Squaw a week early for my Dad to participate in the Broken Arrow skyrace and then we watched the town empty and re-fill with a different breed of runner. The pride that the community has in this race, the excitement, the stories, the predictions and the shit talk is brilliant. I was so happy to have got to experience the full ride that is the Western states 100.
Something you said to me just prior to the race was that you wanted to go out run the race your dreamed of racing – talk us through what that means for you and what others can take from it?
I have tried different ways of racing; starting conservative and finishing like I still had gas to give, I have led from the front and been hunted all day, and I have died in the middle and pulled it together in the back half. Each time I have felt like I had more to give. Where better to give a splash of magic then on one of the biggest stages in the sport and in a completely new distance of 100 miles.
I always said I ran my first 100km well because I was blissfully unaware of what laid ahead and thats how I raced the WSER100. I had no idea where this would take me physically, mentally and emotionally and I was excited to find it out. I was willing to hurt to find my potential.
What’s the one thing you didn’t do in the race that you wish you had done?
I was told by everybody to almost ‘over fuel early’ because in the hot canyons you have to work hard and as the heat increases you tend to not eat so much. For me, getting any nutrition in is a bonus and because I was so wary of not pushing it too much, when that time came in the canyons and I started to cook it was a real low point. I was trying a new product that I had trained with only a few times in the lead up to the race and so I was cautious to ease my body into it during the race- it was working really well, I should have trusted it and hammered with it like I was able to do for the back half of the race once I got to my crew, stocked up and cooled down with ice.
What was the best bit of advice you heard about WSER100 now that you’ve done the race?
‘100 miles is a long way. Enjoy the ride and the people that are there to share it with you’. WS100 aid stations were like nothing else I had experienced with 5 volunteers to every 1 runner you came in you felt like the king. I was offered every food under the sun, swamped with a sponge bath, had ice shoved in any place that would hold, had a joke with and thanked every single one of them. The beauty of 100 miles is that you have the opportunity to really appreciate these members in every moment.
Was there anytime during the first 50 miles when you thought you had gone out a little hard or were you happy with your approach?
I was running easy, I was holding chats with the guys I was surrounded by, I was making plans for the future, assessing the present and I felt like I was just floating. It was that magical state me all look for in running. I was told by a guy at about mile 20 that I was on course record pace and I think that mentally in my mind I said “shit, I’m not Ellie Greenwood” and I quickly changed that attitude to “maybe not, I am Lucy Bartholomew and I can ride this wave until I hit the shore”.
Tell us what it was like fighting for that podium spot in the last 20 miles. How did you feel? What was it like digging deep like that?
I was lucky to have two of the best Pacers with Sally Mcrae and Dakota Jones who pulled me and motivated me every step of the final 40miles. Dakota was the one that picked me up and I was put into third place and he knew I was fighting just to maintain. He broke it down to me and ultimately he said “You have 10 miles to eat up and look up at the sunset and then you have 10 miles to shut up and throw down whatever you have left”. In those last 10 miles I barely spoke, I followed his footsteps and I am so proud of how I finished this day.
I’ve always thought that you’ve never lived until you’ve been put through the wringer in a seriously tough 100 mile race, what are your thoughts about that?
I would agree with that. I would say that in 100miles you live a life, if not a few. It puts everything in perspective and simplifies everything at the other end. It’s a beautiful thing to experience and I was so lucky to have been able to share mine with the Western States family.