Monday, March 14, 2016

Five Questions with Michelle Hawk - Interviews from the Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Stagecoach Line 100 Mile, 55K and Relays

As mentioned in our last interview with Mark Hammond, the 2015 women's Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Stagecoach Line 100 Mile winner not only set a course record but she also placed second overall.  Michelle Hawk, from Tucson, Arizona, finished in a time of 19:08:39.  This is the fourth fastest time on the Stagecoach course and it also was the 26th fastest 100-mile time by a woman in North America in 2015. With successes in the 50K (wins at Elephant Mountain and the Hypnosis, Vertigo and Sinister Night Runs) and 50 mile (3rd at Old Pueblo) distances, Michelle picked Stagecoach as her 100-mile debut.  In preparation, she held her own Stagecoach training camp by covering the first and final 20 miles of the course in one weekend and attended the Flagstaff-based McMillan Running Trail/Ultra Training Camp. Like Mark and Suzanna Bon, Michelle was happy to share her race day experiences with us.

Michelle Hawk, #16, listens to last minute race day instructions.

Question #1: Why did I choose Stagecoach?

"I decided to run Stagecoach primarily because it was an easy travel distance from Tucson and I might be able to convince some friends to come up to crew and pace me."  

Michelle heading into Hart Prairie Preserve.

Question #2: What was your favorite part of the course?

"I actually have to pick two sections of the course as my favorite.  The section from Hart Prairie to Kelly Tank that took you through meadows and aspen groves were awesome.  That was some sweet single track.  Moqui Stage Station to Russell Tank provided me with an experience I will not soon forget.  The sun was setting and darkness came quickly.  Out of this darkness came the sounds of bugling elk.

Michelle minutes outside of Cedar Ranch Aid Station.

Question #3: What was the biggest challenge Stagecoach presented?

"Having never run 100 miles before (58 being my longest day ever), the biggest challenge for me was mental, believing that I could run 100 miles.  The early miles seemed so easy and I kept worrying that the wheels were going to come off somewhere along the way."  

Michelle, post-race, with race director Ian Torrence (left) and race volunteers Scott Bajer and Ludo Pierson.

Question #4: What was your favorite aid station?

"Wow!  Favorite aid station?  Do I have to pick one?  Russell Tank, where disco lights, blaring music and pacers awaited.  Watson Tank, where I found the race director ladling out chicken noodle soup in the middle of the night.   Oil Line, cold grapes in middle of nowhere, boy did they hit the spot.  Awesome aid stations throughout the race!"

Michelle shows off her "Champion" belt buckle.

Question #5: Three tips you can offer a Stagecoach first timer.

"1.  Take it easy on all those easy downhill miles early in the race.  
 2.  Look around and revel in the awesome beauty all around you.  It changes again and again throughout the day.  
 3.  Chicken noodle soup is the 'BOMB' late in the race."  

Michelle, after her winning performance, at the finish line in Tusayan, AZ, with her crew and pacers.

Bonus Question: Mt. Humphrey's or Grand Canyon?

"Mt. Humphrey's only because I have never tackled it before."  

Bonus Question x 2: Would I pick Stagecoach again?

"FOR SURE!  Beautiful scenery!  Well marked course!  Awesome aid stations!  A FIRST CLASS event all the way around!

Thank you for sharing your story and photos with us Michelle!  Be sure to join us on September 24, 2016 at 8:00AM for the fourth annual Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Stagecoach Line 100 Mile, 55K and Relays.

1 comment:

blingy_al214 said...

Hi there! I'm Al Ray and I'm from Mindanao. I just read your blog "your Ultra-training Bag of Tricks: A Newbie's Guide to Ultramarathons" and I can really relate to it. I'm a newbie in ultra running. My first was the Davao50 just last Feb 27. It was my first ultra and I actually skipped the marathon. Your tip to not try the actual run during training is consistent with the training program I've been following on the nike+running app. At first I was confused as to why I wasn't able to run a full marathon during the program. Later did i realize the reason, and your article just confirms it even more. I'm now confident that the program in the app is really helpful, but it could be better if training with a pro coach and with a buddy. Sadly, I can't quite afford it but thanks to you and to other avid runners who share their tips and tricks, I can get on in this passion without much hurting my pocket. Thanks and more miles to cover for us!

PS: I'm going to join at least two ultramarathons (50km) this May 28 and July 23. Can you still remember your first three ultramarathons? how was it?