When Katie Schide is grinding through a long trail run race, what is going through her mind? Is she thinking about the course and the challenges she faces in terms of elevation gain? Is she ticking off each kilometer on her brain’s odometer?

Maybe. It’s more likely Schide is thinking about food. Specifically, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. When you’re running more than 100 kilometers, often at high altitude, the machine must be fed. Calories are gold.

“Running ultras is always a mental game. You have to be really on top of eating and drinking,” Schide said. “I like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I’m not into the sports specific nutrition.”

A 2010 graduate of Gardiner Area High School, where she was a standout field hockey player, Schide now lives in the mountain in the southeast of France, north of Nice. Schide is working towards her Ph.D. in Geology, and turning a lifelong love of hiking and the mountains into a career in ultra trail running into a career.

A month ago, Schide placed first in her division at the Ultra Trail CÔte d’Azur Mercantour, a 130 kilometer (approximately 81 miles) course with 8,700 meters (approximately 28,500 feet) and elevation gain. To put that in Maine terms, that’s like climbing Katahdin seven times. In 19 hours, 54 minutes, and 26 seconds, Schide’s winning time.

Schide, 28, grew up hiking. In high school, she and her father did Vermont’s Long Trail, which runs from the state border at Massachusetts through the Green Mountains to the Canadian border, in three sections. On summer breaks, while a student at Middlebury College, Schide worked in the Appalachian Mountain Club’s huts system in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Often, she had to hurry from hut to hut for her job, loaded up with a heavy pack full of food and equipment.

From the Carter Notch Hut at the east end to the Lonesome Lake Hut at the west end is just under 50 miles. The workers have a challenge, to try and race the length of the hut system in under 24 hours. Schide completed the challenge three times. Last year, she recorded the fastest known time for a hut traverse, completing the run in 12 hours and 23 minutes.

Schide’s first trail race was in 2015 in Utah, while she worked on her master’s degree at the University of Utah.

“I guess at the time, I felt I had prepared for it,” Schide said, “but compared to how I train now, I did basically nothing.”

Schide trains with her boyfriend and fellow competitor, Germain Grangier, who also took first place last month at the Ultra Trail CÔte d’Azur Mercantour. Their training regimen includes running, biking, and core work. Schide is motivated by competing against the best of the best. Schide learned that when she placed second in the CCC (short for Courmayeur-Champex-Chamoinix) UTMB, a 100 kilometer race at Mont Blanc, though Italy, France, and Switzerland.

“That was my first really big international race. That’s when I took the next step from, OK, I’m pretty good to this is something I can keep pursuing professionally,” Schide said.

Last year, Schide placed sixth at the 161 kilometer (100 miles) Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc. She’s looking forward to next year’s race, which Schide unofficially calls the world championship of ultra trailrunning.

“I still have a lot to learn about ultras. I have a lot of little things to figure out,” Schide said.

Ultra running quickly became a passion for Schide. When she figures out all those little things, the ultra trail running community should look out. The top runners can already feel her coming up behind, fueling up with PB&J, ready to overtake the sport.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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