Ultrarunner Liz Canty sets women’s Cruel Jewel 100 course record

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It was some kind of freak accident – 20 miles into the 106-mile race, ultrarunner Liz Canty tore the anterior tibial tendon in her shin. Canty was running the 2021 Cruel Jewel 100, which takes participants on 95 miles of trails, 11 miles of mountain roads and a staggering 33,000 foot elevation gain and loss through the Chattahoochee National Forest in the mountains of northern Georgia.

She continued to run despite the injury. But after talking with his support team, Canty made the difficult decision to stop at mile 70. “I could have gone 30 more miles and walked really slow and stayed there for 48 hours,” he said. she declared. “I totally could have done that. But we were looking at how much damage I would do to my leg. You could look at six months without racing.

Fortunately, Canty said she managed to recover from the injury in about six weeks, rather than the expected 12 to 14.

As the 2022 race approached in May, Canty was poised for redemption, and the 30-year-old ultrarunner came back with a vengeance, finishing in 26:34:53 to break the previous women’s course record by 45 minutes. She finished first among women and fifth overall, qualifying her for the 2023 Hardrock 100 race lottery in Colorado.

Since taking up ultrarunning in 2016, Canty has become one of the sport’s top athletes. She has consistently scored podiums in dozens of races and also set several fastest known times, including one for the Smokies Challenge Adventure Run.

Canty moved from Alabama to Colorado about eight months ago and plans to continue racing in her new home state while traveling for future races. BRO caught up with Canty to discuss running and her ultrarunning career.

BRO: How does it feel to finish first among fifth-place women in the Cruel Jewel
100?

Canty: Oh, that hurts, I can say the same. No, it was great.

I came back, ready to go. And I didn’t want to have to do it a third time, so I had to do well.

BRO: How did last year’s DNF motivate you into this year’s race?

Canty: I was kind of stressed that I would get hurt again on that run… it probably wasn’t until the last 20 miles that I was like, oh, I’m going to finish this. Anyway, even if I fall now and injure myself, I can absolutely do 20 miles. It was super encouraging.

BRO: How is the Cruel Jewel different from other races?

Canty: This is probably one of the (most) wet races I’ve done.

And not only is it super tough – there are tough races all over the world – but I think it’s mentally tough in a whole other way to just be hot and sweaty, however long it takes you , and really don’t make the big mountain view. You’re just hanging out in the woods and you really need to have your mental game on.

BRO: Tell me about your running training.

Canty: I was actually training for the Boston Marathon as part of my Cruel Jewel training cycle.

I run trails six or seven days a week. Even though I was trail running, I still had to make sure I was doing speed work on the road and always doing long runs on the road.

I probably had a really different training cycle than a lot of people, training here (Colorado) for the same race and doing a ton of hill work and just hiking, really fit for the Hills. I took a different approach: I was in really good shape for the Boston Marathon and it worked.

BRO: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from ultrarunning?

Canty: Not to take anything too seriously. Don’t take racing too seriously, or work, or life, or
anything.

It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, but it’s fun. And that’s worth 30 hours.

BRO: What is your favorite thing about ultrarunning?

Canty: Snacks in the woods. Ultrarunning is a lot more about eating while you run. It’s the fact that you can be in the middle of nowhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains and come across someone making you quesadillas and handing you a beer if you want one at mile 80 is pretty amazing.

BRO: What’s the next step in your racing career?

Canty: The racing calendar is full for the year. I have a race here, a 19 hour race a month – the first week of July – and then the big problem is that there is a race series in Europe called Ultra-Trail [du] Mont Blanc.

It happens at the end of August. My husband and I will be going there, and it’s 66 miles around the Mont Blanc mountain in Chamonix, France. So, it’s next!

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