UnTapped athlete Aliza Lapierre is only a few short weeks out from one of the biggest races on her calendar, The Western States 100 Endurance Race. This legendary event attracts thousands every year and provides one of the toughest challenges in the world for ultra runners. Aliza has been working hard to prepare for this challenge and you bet she will have UnTapped in her pack at the starting line June 25th!
Could you give us an overview of the event that is the Western States 100?
Western States all began when in 1974 Gordy Ainsleigh joined the horses of the Western States Trail Ride to see if he could complete the 100 miles on foot. In the subsequent years more runners toed the line to complete the distance from Squaw Valley to Auburn California. The year 1974 marked the first official Western States Endurance Run and is known as the world’s oldest 100-mile trail race and is a challenging one with over 18,000 feet of ascent and roughly 23,000 feet of descent. With the Western States field-limit it can even be very challenging to get into the race.
This is not your first time doing this event; you even mentioned in your athlete profile that it is a target race for you this year. What is so special about Western States to you?
This year will mark my 5th time lining up at the start at Western States. The event is a magical one, leading up with the preparation and anticipation, then on race day the variety of terrain and level of competition, along with the spectators and volunteers just makes it phenomenal event.
Last time we spoke you had mentioned that you had never felt like you nailed it at Western States. How have you adjusted your training to prepare for a better performance?
Yes I have never crossed the finish line at WS and felt like I’ve nailed it. I am still looking for that feeling of putting together an entire race and crossing the line feeling like I’ve executed my plan and left everyone out on the course.
This year has been a little different than previous years as I have raced far less leading up to Western. I spent a longer training block building my base and I’ve been focused more on training with the fuel I will use on race day. You never know how changes in your training regime will go, but I am excited to find out.
It takes a lot of fuel to keep yourself going over those many miles and thousands of feet of elevation; what will you have in your pack during the race?
I have worked on dialing in a mixture that works well for me during my long training sessions. The mixture includes sea salt, water, maple syrup and a powdered complex carbohydrate source. I will also carry some portable snacks that have syrup as an ingredient for when I crave solid food over liquid nutrition.
Have any other gear that you cannot live without during an ultra-run?
I am a big fan of all of the gear that I wear and carry during a race. My favorite Salomon pack is the S-Lab Adv Skin 5Set as it can carry my hydration needs as well all of my essentials. To help protect my feet I like to have on my Drymax Socks and around my wrist I rely heavily on my Suunto Ambit 3 to help time nutrition.
What are your best tips for a successful run at Western States or even other ultra distance races?
I am a firm believer that each runner should run their own race and remember that they can only control themselves and not others. Also remember to enjoy your journey through training and during the race as it should be hard, but it should also be fun!
The whole crew at UnTapped wishes Aliza the best of luck and will be cheering her on from VT come June 25th!