How Nicole Studer Stunned the Ultra-Running World

The 33-year-old Dallas lawyer smashed the 100-mile North American trail record.

You realize you are crazy, right?

Yeah, I actually think that it’s odd that I do this. I just fell into it by happenstance. I wanted to run a race that was over the marathon length, and I found I was pretty good at it. I love it. It’s such a good stress release. For me, it’s very therapeutic. 

Do you live in pain, or do you have a body that is just a natural shock absorber?

I’ve been injured before, but I’ve been running since I’ve been in seventh grade, and my body is just able to recover really well.

When you tell people you run 100 miles, what are their reactions?

I get a lot of questions about what I eat and how I go to the bathroom. 

What do you eat and how do you go to the bathroom?

I typically eat gels. Specifically GU gel. They have a variety of foods—pizza, soup, cookies—at rest stations on the trail, but I stick with the gels. I don’t want to take the chance with solid food. It’s a bad idea. And I always use a porta potty. 

What made you start in the seventh grade?

I tried out for the basketball team, and the gym coach watched me run a mile. He told me I wouldn’t make the basketball team and said I’d be really good running cross country. 

You ran cross country in college at Northwestern. When did you get into the longer distances?

I started doing marathons after college, and then I continued to try and run farther. I just found that I really enjoyed the longer distance running, the ultra races, and I really enjoyed running on the trails where the courses were so beautiful. It was a good release from work. I slowly but surely built up into longer distances.

What was the first ultra that you did?

I did a trail race series called Capt’n Karl’s. It’s out by Austin, and it was a 60K. I think I got second overall. Then I ran a couple more of those, and then I ran my first 50-mile race. That was about four years ago. About six months later, after a couple 50-milers, I ran 100 miles. My first race was called the Rocky Raccoon, near Huntsville. It’s where I set the record in February.  

There are so many people that enter and don’t even finish.

It comes naturally to me, but I give much more credit to the people that take the full time to run them. I set the women’s North American record on the Rocky Raccoon course in 14 hours and 22 minutes. There were people out there for 30 hours. 

What is a trail course like?

It’s generally a loop, right?Some of the courses are looped, like the Rocky Raccoon course, where you do five loops. The race I just ran, the Western States, is a point-to-point course. It starts in Squaw Valley and finishes in Auburn, California. 

Do you listen to music when you run?

Yes, toward the end. It gives me an extra oomph of energy. My sister puts together an iPod shuffle for me. She surprises me with songs from when we were kids. It’s always different, and it keeps me intrigued. 

What is your next race?

I have a race coming up at the end of August, in France. It’s called UTMB, Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. It is a 104-mile course in the Alps.

How do you train for the Alps when you live in Dallas?

I do a lot of stair running. It’s not a perfect solution. It’s hard here. We try to run in my office building, but it’s really hot in the stairwells. We try to run at Cityplace, but the DART police usually kick us out. 

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