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Maggie Nelsen Runs HER Race and Wins Pumpkin Holler 50 km Overall – Interview

“I enjoy the relaxed environment of the ultra scene, and the genuine respect that ultra runners have for each other, the sport, and mother nature.” – Maggie Nelsen

Tulsa athlete, Maggie Nelsen passed all the girls…and boys and won the overall at the inaugural Pumpkin Holler 50 km in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Maggie crossed the finish line in 3:57:18 with the only sub-4 effort for the day. (Results Summary)

Pumpkin Holler 50km finish! (Photo: Courtesy Maggie Nelsen)

Maggie was gracious in sharing with us a bit about her running background and ultra experience, the Pumpkin Holler 50km, and what’s next.


Background / Training

[EB – What is your running background?]

I started running in high school and pretty much have been running since. I played a number of sports growing up, but always loved swimming and running the most.

[EB – What does a typical training week look like for you? Do you do any type of cross-training?]

There’s really no structure to my training. There are a handful of loops that I run during the week that range from six to 10 miles. I run long on Saturdays (anywhere from 18 to 30+) and then sometimes I’ll add another long run on Sunday or take the day off.I also just started running with the Tuesday night track group just to mix it up a bit – and it’s been a lot of fun.

I usually don’t wear a watch (except on the track and in races), so the distance/pace of every run is based on how my body feels and how much time I have. I would guess that I average anywhere from 65 to 90 miles a week.

Cross-training – I love to swim, and I really should make an effort to get in the water more. I’ve been a swimmer my entire life and I swam quite a bit when I was living in San Diego (open water and pool). I went through a period where I had one running related injury after another, so I completely stopped running for a year or so and just swam. I went to my first few master’s workouts here in a Tulsa this past month so now I just need to keep it up…  otherwise I don’t do much else.

My boyfriend and I take the dogs and longboard along riverside, but I’m not sure that really counts as cross training.

[EB – From the results I had been able to find, you appear to be someone that mainly runs on the road. This year included the 90th fastest USATF recorded female 5km in 17:54 (Full Mooon 5km) and an a 3:10 at the Orange County Marathon. What led you to dabble in the trail and ultra scene? Do you have any specific running mentors that have helped you in your trail/ultra journey?]

I actually did a fair amount of trail/ultra running out in San Diego starting in 2009/2010. I ran 3 Peaks 50k, Noble Canyon 50k, and few other trail runs last summer and had such a great time.

I enjoy the relaxed environment of the ultra scene, and the genuine respect that ultra runners have for each other, the sport, and mother nature. I credit my ultra/trail running to a couple guys out in San Diego – they’re both accomplished ultra runners/marathoners, and have helped me considerably along the way.

Maggie at Noble Canyon 50km. (Photo: Courtesy Maggie Nelsen)

Pumpkin Holler 50 km

[EB – How was your body and mind feeling coming into the PH 50km? Did you have any specific strategy or goals for the 31 mile adventure?]

Coming into the race, I didn’t really have a strategy. I didn’t know what the course was like, but thought that if I ran comfortably, especially over the first half, I would have a chance to break four hours.

[EB – What was your nutrition/calorie plan across the 31 miles?]

During the race I carried water (refilled at the 13 and 26 mile aid stations) and ate 2 cliff blocks every 45 to 60 minutes.

[EB – Averaging a spicy 7:38 pace, did you get a chance to look around? What did you think of the course?]

Definitely… the scenery is one of the reasons I enjoy trail running!

As I was running out along the out-and-back section, there were tons of cows in a field to my right. As I approached the property, they all started moving (running) towards the road and then they all turned and were running parallel to me. As soon as I got to the end of the property, they just ran off back to the middle of the field. It was pretty crazy.

[EB – How did the 31 mile adventure play out for you? When did you move into the overall lead? What were some of your strongest memories across the nearly four hour scamper? What were some of your biggest challenges you had to overcome?]

I felt like I ran a very even, controlled race. The course was hilly and a bit rockier than I had anticipated, but it was a great course and I wouldn’t expect anything less in an ultra/trail run. I don’t have a GPS watch so I could only tell my approximate pace.  I think I was around 1:40 when I came into the 13.3 aid station and then about 3:20 at the 26.6 mile aid station.

I didn’t have any real problems on the run… When I hit the short paved section my left IT Band got really tight, but it loosened up once I hit the trails again.

Just as I came off the paved road, over the rocks/water, and started to head up the hill I saw the guy in lead – around 24/25 miles. I never struggled mentally during the race, but it was a good feeling knowing that there was a possibility that I could catch him before the end.  I ended up passing him on the hill right before the 26.6 mile aid station.

Leaving that aid station, I only had five or so miles to go, and it went pretty quickly. I remember looking at my watch at 3:48 and thinking that that I should hit the bridge soon, especially if I wanted to break four hours. My quads started to feel the effects of the loose rocks over the last 20 minutes.

It was a great feeling when the bridge came into view.  I tried to finish as strong as I could – my quads were definitely ready to be done.

[EB – How did it feel being the first to cross the finish line and knock out a sub-4 hour time?]

It was great – I really had no clue what to expect coming into the run and I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.

[EB – Now that you have ran the Pumpkin Holler 50km, were there any specific lessons learned from this adventure that you would bring with you next time or recommend to others for this course?]

Recommendations to other… stay relaxed, enjoy the run itself (not just getting to the finish line), and have fun!

Looking Ahead

[EB – Do you have any running events planned for the rest of the year? Any other running adventures on your radar you would like to experience but haven’t yet?]

As far as upcoming events, I’m thinking about running Jenks Half Marathon and the Route 66 Marathon – beyond that I’m not sure.

Hard not to be impressed and inspired by that even effort throughout the run!

A huge thanks to Maggie for sharing with the Endurance Buzz community.

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

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