Ultra runner Lucy Bartholomew has been riding high after finishing third at the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run in 2018, but a few weeks a go she came to the difficult decision not to compete in the 2019 UTMB CCC race.
We caught up with Lucy to discuss her reasons for pulling out of the event, what she's learned in the past 12 months and her goals for the future...
So Lucy, it must have been a really difficult decision not to race the UTMB CCC. What was the overwhelming feeling for you once you knew you weren't going to race?
I had to really push to get ready for Western States in June of this year. The build-up was nowhere near as smooth as last year [when Lucy finished 3rd] and so I knew that the effects and comedown after the race would be more severe.
I went to Chamonix early to run the loop of the course and as I was running I had this overwhelming feeling of being completely satisfied with seeing the course in this relaxed way, while I felt no desire to put a bib on and race hard on these trails. Every race I do I want to have that excitement and that fire; and I just knew I didn’t have it, nor the energy to try and fake it.
It's clear to see that you've got a great connection with your fans and their response to your announcement has been overwhelmingly positive...
I really didn’t see the decision as a big deal in my mind. I think I knew deep in my heart that this was the right decision a while ago, but I hung on to see how I felt with some days in these big mountains.
Once I had ‘announced’ it I felt relieved and also really happy that people resonated with my reasons. The response to my announcement post on Facebook meant I could also relate to other's feelings, particularly as I think it made them question their own races and plans, which I think is important since it's easy to be swept up in what others are doing and perhaps not always look at what's best for you.
Source: Lucy Bartholomew Facebook ©
Your Facebook post on prioritising rest and recovery clearly resonated with a lot of your followers - what advice would you give to PH readers who are struggling with injury or fatigue ahead of a big event?
I want my posts on social media to be as real as possible. I don’t want to just highlight the good days but also be raw and honest, so sometimes you have to respect the sport and the competition enough to step back and save your energy.
My advice would be that you need to know your 'WHY' for running a race.
Are you doing it because all your friends are? Or maybe because you feel like you have to, need to, or do you actually want to? There's a big difference in these words.
And then you need to realise that the race will be there in the following years and the sun will set and rise with a new day, and everyone will move on to the next event.
So, how was being on the 'other side' - cheering and supporting rather than racing - at the UTMB for you?
Not having to be worried for a race gave a nice perspective for this year of races.
I was able to use the energy I did have for others and help them navigate preparations, crewing and mind-set which is cool and very fulfilling. There were many highlights, success and growth - it's always nice to see people challenge themselves and give their best on the day.
Is the plan to continue in a support role for the rest of the year or do you have another race lined up?
I plan to continue training slowly and embracing the ability to have more time to prepare for my next race, which will be the Ultra Trail Cape Town in South Africa if everything goes to plan.
My calendar for next year is still being written but of course there are some ideas and travels that make me super-excited.
Source: Lucy Bartholomew Instagram ©
Are you able to give us a little insight into your potential race goals for the next 12 months?
I think to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and enjoy the process. Goals are good but for now I just want to continue to enjoy the sport and give back where I can because this sport has already given me so much!
You've experienced so much despite being very young in UltraRunning terms, so what's the biggest thing you have learned about yourself during this whirlwind year?
I’ve learnt more about self-love and self-respect these past 12 months. Really focusing on being a sustainable and authentic athlete is more important than any success in the sport to me. And I’ve learnt that the community that I have surrounding me is phenomenal.
And finally, you've been nominated for the Runner's World / Women's Health Most Inspiring Woman Award - how big an honour is that?
It’s really nice to be nominated for the Women's Health award. I always try my best to be a good example and I really enjoy connecting with the community in person and online, so it's nice to even be recognised.
I have many inspirations; anyone who dares to dream and challenge themselves is a hero in my book! I feel very lucky to have this opportunity and be in this position to share my world with you all!
Thanks Lucy! We've already cast our vote for the Women's Health Most Inspiring Woman of 2019 award ;) Good luck!
At time of writing she was sitting in 2nd place in the Awards by just 37 votes! Wouldn't it be great if the PH family helped tip Lucy over the edge into 1st place...