Meredith June Edwards: Elite Athlete Interview
By Alice Hunter Morrison
Moroccan-based journalist, winner of Best Africa Blog, writer for RunUltra, author of “Dodging Elephants: 8000 Miles Across Africa by Bike,” and Special Correspondent for IRUN4ULTRA, a subsidiary of Hope So Bright.
Meredith June Edwards, Mere June, or Night Mere, as she says her friends like to call her, is an elite trail and ultra runner and ski mountaineer. She is from Jackson, Wyoming and says Wyoming is exactly where she wants to be in the world, “Love me some Tetons!” is her favorite phrase.
She took second place in the TDS (Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie) in August, one of the races at the great mountain festival of running, UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc) in Chamonix, and came in 35th. The race is 119 kilometers long with a huge 7,250 meters of ascent. This was a real triumph for the talented American. We caught up with her just after the race.
Q: Congratulations on your fantastic run, Meredith, did you think you would be on the podium?
A: I was shocked! Last year I came in 10th at CCC. This year I thought, top five. Never did I think I would go out and lead the race and then come in second place. I didn’t know where I was in the placings until 52 kilometers when my support crew said I was number one. Then I had to tell myself, “Don’t freak out. Head down. There is a lot of race left, and a lot can happen.”
Q: Didn’t you actually led the race for a lot of the way – ahead of the eventual winner, Delphine Avenier?
A: She wasn’t far off for most of the day. I would see her at the aid stations. We were neck and neck. We swapped leads. The longest climb of the race was after 51 kilometers and we were together that whole climb. It was so hot that I was saying, “Tres Chaud,” and she kept saying, “Go slow.”
Q: How did you feel when she passed you?
A: It is a humbling experience. I don’t like to get passed.
Q: It was incredibly hot out there. How did that impact your nutrition and hydration?
A: I was really worried on that long climb as it was the hottest part of the day. I tried to eat lots of food. I didn’t have enough salt in me nor did I take salt tablets. That was a mistake! Last year, I got through the CCC by just eating the soup at the aid stations. But this year it was super hot.
Q: The whole course is tricky, but was there anything that stood out?
A: The climb down from the Col de Tricot was the steepest stretch I have ever done. It was HEINOUS! But the hardest place to run was coming out of Cormet de Roselend. We had to run through a cow pasture. It was uneven and all mud. Kind of frustrating! I don’t think I have cursed so much in my life.
Q: How did TDS compare to some of the U.S. races you do? Many American athletes tell us running in Europe is different.
A: I do sky running in the U.S. and we try to mimic European sky running. I would say that CCC is comparable to that. But TDS was a whole different thing. At times it didn’t even feel like I was on a trail. It was extremely rocky and steep. I am from Jackson and the Tetons are technical but this terrain was very hard, steep, and unique.
Q: Tell us about your training for this event.
A: I am strong on the uphill and can hold a good gear, but last year at CCC, my speed wasn’t there. Eric Orton, my coach, sat me down and said we needed to improve my speed. I went back to the track and did interval work with repeats every Monday. This really paid off as it made my race pace easier. I made great time in the flat sections when I could run hard and it helped on the uphills. I find that ski mountaineering racing (skimo) strengthens my uphill capability. I also weight train. I have worked with the same trainer, Chris Butler, for two years. I can now deadlift almost double my bodyweight.
Q: What’s next for you, now that you have this big achievement under your belt?
A: I want to do the Everest Base Camp marathon in May. A personal ambition of mine is to climb up Denali. I really want to go over there and experience the culture.
FIVE THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT MEREDITH
- She likes hard dates (the fruit…).
- She dated a Frenchman for a year and a half and his mom came out to support her during TDS, which almost made her cry.
- She has beat men and women alike to become first and has set the course record for running around a volcano in the Philippines.
- She has a dog called Mo who is a “Chug,” which a cross between a Chihuahua and a Pug.
- The favorite song on her playlist is “Broken Arrow.”
Thanks for talking to us at IRun4Ultra Meredith, and good luck with your next challenge!
Follow @merejune and @IRun4Ultra on Instagram