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2014 Bandera Trail Run: Bonus Q&A with Meghan Arbogast, Paul Terranova, Liza Howard, and Ford Smith

One final Bandera goody…a few additional Q&A thoughts from Meghan Arbogast, Paul Terranova, Liza Howard, and Ford Smith.


Meghan Arbogast (Female winner of 100km)


Silke Koester (L) and Meghan Arbogast (R) enjoying a pre-race giggle. (Credit: David Hanenburg)

EB: You crossed the finish for the win which included your best Bandera to date! What would be a couple tips you would share on how to put together a consistent day on this course?

Since it wasn’t consistent, I can say – make a good plan and stick with it. I was too casual with the calories and electrolytes. BUT – what I was super excited about was the training I did on rocky terrain really paid off! I took one tiny tumble with about two miles to go, but otherwise, feel like I danced over the rocks all day.

EB: Did you have a favorite section of the course this year? Any strong memories on the day?

I like the single track everywhere.

Strong memories – running with Liza for the first 20 miles. She is such a warm individual, sharing miles with her is a pleasure. Coming into Last Chance the first time to a bear hug from Olga King. Getting a message from my daughter through Twitter from you.

Paul Terranova (4th Place in 100km)

Paul pre-race with Rick Kent and wife Meredith.

Paul (L) pre-race with Rick Kent and wife, Meredith. (Credit: David Hanenburg)

EB: Always a great vibe to this event. How were you feeling race morning with the mild temps and beautiful sunrise lighting the local terrain?

Race morning was absolutely beautiful, we couldn’t have asked for a better day!  Had a great warm-up on my own at about 6:00am and then again at about 6:45am with eventual women’s winner Meghan Arbogast.  All systems were “GO” for sure.

EB: At mile 11 (chapas), you had created a two minute gap on David Laney and Chikara Omine, with Jorge Maravilla another three minutes back. Was this an intentional surge in the early going?

Coming up to the base of the first climb to Sky Island, Chikara had the lead with me behind him and Laney behind me.  Chikara hesitated for a bit looking for the next trail marker coming out of the trees and I stayed in stride and slid by him up the trail.  Never really surged per se, but ended up drifting away from the guys behind me.  Believe I ended up being about two minutes fast to Nachos (mile 6), so I tried to make a conscious effort to reel in my pace and not expend too much energy early on.  Everything was feeling awesome coming into Chapas and the course conditions were perfect so I just kept things rolling through the fields and into Crossroads.

EB: You left out on your last loop in 4th position, likely not feeling your best, but you made it stick through to the finish along with being the top TALON finisher! Btw, you ran nearly four minutes faster than last year. What strategies did you use to keep moving when things got tough?

Definitely had some work to do on loop two, stayed composed, made sure I got in some extra calories leaving the Lodge for what I hoped to be a second half surge as the leaders tired.  Took a pretty nasty fall coming down to the base of Ice Cream Hill which almost knocked the wind out of me, but I got up and kept moving forward, always looking ahead to try and catch a glimpse of the top-3, which would never come until the Lodge.  My eventual focus, thanks to Meredith, was to at least PR for the course which I did.  At that point, just keep moving to get to the finish line as quickly as possible!

EB: Did you have a favorite section of the course this year?

For sure, coming through the fields between Chapas and Crossroads was an absolute delight with no mud this year, so it went by much quicker than last year!

Liza Howard (2nd Place female in 100km)

Liza pre-race. (Photo credit: David Hanenburg)

Liza pre-race. (Credit: David Hanenburg)

EB: It had been one year since your last race (Bandera 2013). After a bit of a break, sometimes the race routine can seem new again. What was your favorite part about race morning this year at Bandera? Least favorite part?

Favorite part: Hugging friends and runners I hadn’t seen in a long while in the race start area and counting down the last seconds before the race start with Joe and the other runners.

Least favorite: Realizing the line for the port-o-potty was too long for me to stand in.

EB: Coming into Bandera with a few months of solid training after giving birth to your sweet little girl, you mentioned you weren’t racing but just looking to get a finish and that snazzy new snake buckle. How hard was it to have that “just finish” focus with a USATF championship race, Western States slots, and number of fast tread looking to push the pace?

Not hard.  I thought I had absolutely no chance of placing or getting a Western States slot.  And I didn’t know anything about the women’s field besides Meghan. I was entirely content to run a race where my success would be measured by my effort — and not how I placed compared to other runners or how fast I ran in general.

EB: After moving through a low-patch during the middle miles, you moved up from fourth to second with less than 10 miles to the finish. What was running through your mind at this time? Did you create some separation fairly quickly? It seems like it would have created a bit of an internal buzz.

The last 10 miles of the Bandera course are quintessential Bandera and I Iove running them.  The downhills are rocky and fun and you can run them fast if you’re familiar with them. I never expected to see Melanie and Silke again after they passed me (while I was lying on the ground, wrecked at Chapas). And when I did pass them, I figured they’d probably pass me again pretty soon. And when they didn’t, I figured they were close behind me, and I’d better not do any thinking about how nice it’d be to place well or to get a Western States slot — and just focus on running over those Bandera rocks and not tripping and falling on my face. I would have been sad if they passed me in the last mile or two, but I was at peace with my effort, and I really ran those last 10 miles filled with happiness at being able to run them fast at all.

EB: From a low-point that had you contemplating dropping from the race, to regrouping and moving up through the field for a second place finish. I see this as one of your most inspiring finishes. How do you see it?

I was as close to dropping from a race as I ever have been, and I spent hours mulling over the reasons that would justify my drop. I kept coming back to this belief that I’d already proved that I could suffer through races, so I didn’t need to do it anymore. And, ultimately, I recognized that it wasn’t true. If I wanted to be that tough and admirable person who didn’t drop from a race when they were having a hard time (barring injury), I was going to have to keep not dropping from races. I was going to have to keep working at being the person I thought I was. And man, I did want to do that work on Saturday. I’m heartened that I was able push on and do the work. And I’m inspired how much my friends’ support buoyed me halfway through the race. That’s what I’ll remember most from Bandera – how ultra running has blessed me with wonderful friendships.

EB: Did you have a favorite section of the course this year?

I always love running down the backside of Boyles into the finish.

Ford Smith (17 years old, 5th Place in the 100km)

Ford midway through the final loop.

Ford midway through the final loop of the Bandera 100km. (Credit: David Hanenburg)

EB: What is your running background and how did you become aware of the trail running scene?

I started running back in mid 2012 to try and lose a little weight and get in shape. I found that I really enjoyed running and gradually built up to the point where I could run 10 miles. I was going to school in Utah and I first became aware of trail running after hearing about this “crazy” race called the Squaw Peak 50. I wanted to do it so bad that I signed up for the 2013 race having not yet run a marathon.

EB: What was your first trail race? What did you think of the experience? Any strong memories?

I ran a race called the Elk Run half marathon in October of 2012. My first ultra was the Antelope Island 50k this year. I went out way, way too hard. I probably averaged at 6:30 mile for the first eight miles then blew up pretty hard and had a rough day from there. I held together decently though and ended up running around a 4:35. Antelope Island was definitely a long day!

EB: Running for a full day isn’t likely on the top of too many 17 year olds “fun list”. (or any age for that matter) What interests you about ultra running?

I just REALLY like running. It’s my favorite thing to do for sure. I also really enjoy the challenge of the ultra distance. I really enjoy the lows as much as the highs which sounds kinda weird but I like running when I have tired legs. I kinda look at it comically when I am in a rough patch during a race and try not to feel too sorry for myself (can get pretty hard to do!). It’s simply fun to experience such a wide variety of emotions and physical conditions that you encounter in an ultra that I can’t experience personally in say a 5km.


EB: Was Bandera your first 100k? What did you peak training mileage look like during your build? Longest training run? Do you have any ultra mentors that helped you in prep for Bandera?

Bandera was my first 100k race but I have run 100k before. I ran the Bear 100 last year and ended up dropping at mile 85 because of asthma related issues. I wouldn’t say I run a whole lot but I run 70-90 miles a week pretty consistently. For long runs I don’t really like going over 25 miles or more than 4 hours. I would rather run 20 hard than 30 just jogging around. My running schedule is set by a good friend Seth Hales out of Draper, Utah. I would consider him my coach for sure. I also do track/uptempo work with Erik Stanley here in Austin and the combination of the two works well for my training.

EB: Being new to the distance, did you have a particular strategy for the two loop adventure?

My goal for the race was to run it at nine hour pace rather than 100k pace. It’s hard to plan pace for the 100 kilometer distance in Bandera off of previous 50’s I have done because Squaw Peak and Bighorn both have significantly more elevation gain than Bandera. What they do have in common is the time it takes to run each. So I really didn’t go into the race pacing wise as being any longer than a mountain 50. My original goal was to go even split 4:20’s but I can’t complain at all with my time considering how my stomach was feeling.

EB: At the end of the first 50k loop, you were in fifth position! It also sounded like you were having stomach issues. How did you turn that round for that final loop?

Yeah I ran into the start/finish area with Brian Condon who I had been leapfrogging with all day and I guess we were 5th and 6th at that point. My legs felt good but my stomach was over saturated with sugar which is a problem I’ve had before but is not very common for me. I doubled up on gel a couple of times because sometimes when I’m running faster I do that and it backfired. I ended up throwing up about a half mile after I started my second loop and started to feel better after that. My only source of calories for the rest of the race was gatoraid because that’s all my stomach could handle but it ended up being fine. I also started taking one minute walking breaks every 10 minutes to help ease my stomach issues and I was making myself walk 4.0 MPH so I didn’t really feel like I was losing too much ground. The walking probably saved at least 10-15 minutes on my total time because it stabilized my energy levels and I started feeling real good again around mile 40.

EB: What were some of your strongest memories on that last loop that included crossing the finish 5th in the USATF 100k Championship? What are your thoughts on the 100k distance?

The strongest memories of the second loop were definitely Nachos aid station thinking 100% “I am going to drop” then sitting down for a couple minutes and continuing on. I thought that was pretty gritty and am super proud of myself there. Then I would definitely say running from Last Chance to the finish was great cause I really pushed myself to run hard and not get caught at the end. 100k is a fun distance because it’s far and it truly is an “ultra” distance but it’s for sure not 100 miles so you get to go home right when the going gets really tough.

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.

One Response to “2014 Bandera Trail Run: Bonus Q&A with Meghan Arbogast, Paul Terranova, Liza Howard, and Ford Smith”

  1. on 25 Jan 2014 at 12:39 pm Amy Perez

    Ford Smith is a prodigy in the making…if not already made. I’ve had the pleasure of spending time getting to know this boy and he is something special. The mental toughness of a seasoned Ultra runner and the skill that is unmatched at his age. I’m so proud of him and all he’s accomplished! Can’t WAIT to watch him this year…only his second year of Ultra Running to see what he can do! Go FORDIE!