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Granite Bay Today

The Student News Site of Granite Bay High School

Granite Bay Today

The Student News Site of Granite Bay High School

Granite Bay Today

Q&A: Going the distance with Heidi McKeen

Photo courtesy of Sportograf

IB Sports Medicine teacher, Heidi McKeen, completes the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc through three major countries in western Europe. After running for two days and two nights, Heidi finished the race with the support of her friends at the finish line.

What did it take for you to be able to qualify for this run? 

“To qualify for UTMB I had to run other ultra distance races to earn what UTMB calls “running stones”. Depending on how difficult the course is you earn more or less running stones. If you accumulate enough, you can put your name in a lottery drawing (with thousands and thousands of others) for a chance to have your name drawn to participate in the race. To earn my running stones I completed Bandera 100k in Texas, Javelina 100 miler in Arizona and Canyons 100k in Auburn, CA. Many people wait years to have their name pulled and somehow I was fortunate to have my name drawn on my first try getting in.”

What was the hardest part of the entire run from start to finish?

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“The hardest part for me was doing long, steep, technical downhill when I was tired. I ran for two nights and two days, and my legs were tired and sore on the second day and night making the downhill extra challenging.” 

Do you think that this was one of the hardest runs you have done?

“This is by far the greatest physical challenge I have ever done. No other runs I have done compare to the difficulty level both physically and mentally.”

How many big runs like this have you completed?

“UTMB was my fourth 100 mile distance race. I have completed 5 100 kilometer (62 miles), several 50 miles and 50 kilometer races, and 15 marathons.”

How do you feel after running such intense distances?

“For me, finishing a race like this gives me a sense of accomplishment. I feel proud to have endured, excited to be done, absolutely exhausted, and truly full of joy. Running is my passion, and even when it’s hard I love it.”

What thoughts were going through your head when you were at the starting point?

“Before we started I took a quiet moment to close my eyes and center myself. I was thinking about how grateful I was to have this experience, and how it’s not lost on me that not everyone gets the chance to experience something like this. I was thinking how thankful I am to my friends and family for supporting me, how fortunate I am to be healthy, how much I love my son and want him to see that you can do hard things if you put your mind to it. Lastly, I was reminding myself that my only goal was to make it to the finish line and that even when things got really hard all I had to do was keep taking one more step.”

What was the highlight of the experience?

“Highlights include the amazing sights and scenery I got to witness in the Alps of three countries (the race goes around Mont Blanc through France, Italy, and Switzerland), being there with some of my friends and having their support, coming into town at the end and running through crowds to finish line and sharing the experience with my friends and family.”

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About the Contributor
Anna Hufford
Anna Hufford, Staff Writer
Anna is a junior. This is her second year on the Gazette staff.

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