Ruth started running competitively when she was around 14 year old. From the age of 14 through 18 she represented New Zealand as a junior at the World Mountain Running Champs, World Cross-country Champs, and World Athletic Champs in the 3K steeplechase. She then went to the University of Portland on an athletic and cross-country scholarship. During her time at college she had a lot of injuries and setbacks so after graduating she decided to give up running. She moved to Taipei, Taiwan and after about 6 months of not running She started getting back into it again.
After all that you accomplished, what drives you to continue running?
Although not initially but it has now allowed me to avoid the 9 to 5 office gig, travel to some amazing places, meet some great people, and test myself against some of the best trail runners in the world. This combined drives me to continue running.
How do you motivate yourself on days when you don't feel like running?
I think of my competitors and just get out and get it done.
On average, how many times and miles do you run a month?
This varies a lot depending on what part of the season I am in. In the pre-season I'm around 100 to 140K per week, equaling approximately 14 hours. During the season it drops down a lot as I will be tapering for races or recovery, so I end up around 120 but a lot of the time less than 100.
Many athletes who run steeplechase normally transition to short or mid distance road racing. What made you want to transition to ultra running on trails?
When I first started racing in Taiwan I actually did a year or so of road races, and then it was the TNF 50K that was my introduction to the ultra distance. I originally wanted to do the TNF 15K but it was already full so I signed up for the 50K. Also, growing up in New Zealand we did a lot of our long Sunday runs on single track so I had been exposed to trail running and it did not feel like it was completely foreign.
You broke the course record at the Macpac Motatapu 51K recently. What was that experience like?
The Motatapu 51K goes through a really beautiful area. It is a farming station that opens up access to the public for the race. Previously I had not raced much in New Zealand since I had lived abroad for over 10 years, and at that time I wasn't doing ultras or trail running. It was really good to do a race finally in my own backyard.
Can you explain your friendly rivalry with Lucy Bartholomew?
I have actually only ever raced Lucy once, which was this year at Motatpu, so even though we are both from the Southern Hemisphere I have not come across Lucy too much. Lucy often comes to New Zealand to do some races over the summer, but I also don't like to race too much during that time, as otherwise I would end up racing 12 months of the year, which I don't want to do.
Are there any other runners you look forward to competing against? If so, who and why?
I really enjoy being in competitive races, so whoever is at the top at the time I like to be on the start line of those races with them.
What does your weight training consist of and which exercise do you feel helps your running the most?
During the pre-season I have a heavier strength and conditioning program that I do twice a week. It normally consists of weighted squats, deadlift, lunges, etc. During the season there isn't much of an emphasis and I do a lighter version with a theraband and redcord etc.
What's the weirdest or funniest thing that ever happened to you while running?
I did a race in Dali, China once where after getting lost I ended up back in the race directors car, followed by being on the back of an old guys motorbike, followed by being on a public bus and had to finish with a DNF.
What's your favorite types of fuel for running and why?
I use GU Roctane powder and GU gels.
What's your favorite cheat food & drink?
I enjoy a good cider, or G&T. Dark chocolate always wins.
Why are you referred to as "The Kiwi?
As a New Zealander we get nicknamed "Kiwi" which is after our native flightless bird.
What made you decide to move to Taiwan for 5 years?
I had previously been to China for the World Junior Athletic Champs in Beijing so I was really drawn to the Asian culture, as it is so different from what I knew. Also, at that time I had decided to give up running, so for the first time in my life I did not want running to dictate where I went, and I was not ready to move back to New Zealand. I wanted to live somewhere I had not been before, and so I decided to move to Taiwan. Not a lot of thought went into it actually, my mindset was to just go and give it a shot, and if it did not work out I could always leave.
For those who would like to visit Taiwan and go for a beautiful run or two while they're there, where are some places you'd recommend?
Taiwan has over 287 mountains above 3,000 meters, so once you can get into central Taiwan it is really mountainous, but it is also really technical. For the National Parks in central Taiwan you need to apply for permits to have access to the high mountain trails (which have to be applied at least 7 days out from your departure date). Close to Taipei there are some really nice trails in Yangmingshan National Park, which you don't need a permit for.
Do you like ice baths? Why or why not?
Yes, I definitely use ice baths when I can and have been a fan of the Wim Hof method.
In your free time when you’re not running, what other hobby’s do you enjoy?
I road and mountain bike, brew Kombucha and now I have just started working towards getting my paragliding license.
What's the most important tip you like to give new runners?
Don't be in a rush to jump up the distance too quickly, especially when it comes to ultras.
Do you have a preferred SCOTT running shoe? If so, which one and why?
I train and race in the supertrac RC. It has a 5mm drop, lightweight and amazing grip on all surfaces, especially wet.
What’s your favorite distance to run and why?
At the moment it is 42 to 50K distances, which is normally between a 4 to 5 hour effort. I started going down the long ultra path, in which I did the Laverado 120K last year, but I felt like I had lost a lot of speed by training for this distance and that it really took a toll on my body especially in the terms of recovery. I also found that these longer distances involved a lot of hiking, which I came to the conclusion that I don't like hiking.
What is your favorite running accomplishment so far?
My favorite running accomplishment would be the Tenzing-Hillary Mt. Everast Ultra. We hiked to the Mt. Everest Base Camp over 10 days, acclimatizing along the way. The race was supposed to start there but because it was snowing and bad weather so we started at Gorakshep. The 60K race went from Gorakshep to Namche Bazaar. It was an awesome experience. My first real experience with altitude and the mountains there really are something else.
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Published August 23, 2018