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Nearly two years ago, Cody Reed leapt onto the ultra/trail-running scene after a series of back to back wins, including the Ultra Race of Champions 100K, Way Too Cool 50K and Miwok 100K.
Following his initial success, Trail Runner interviewed Reed to learn more about the 25-year-old runner. Since then, he’s continued training in Flagstaff, Arizona, with other elite trail runners under the name “Coconino Cowboys,” including Tim Freriks (winner of Tranvulcania 2017, Flagstaff Sky 55K 2017, the North Face Endurance Challenge 2017, Black Canyon Ultras and current holder of the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim FKT) and Jim Walmsley (who has earned first place in 20 of the 28 ultras he’s entered since 2014, and holds the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim FKT), and has achieved many of the goals he laid out for us in that interview. Earlier this winter, Reed finished second at the Tarawera 100K in New Zealand and Bandera 100K in Texas, where he earned a golden ticket to this year’s Western States 100.
Reed, Freriks and Walmsley are all slated to run Western States this June; Eric Senseman and Jared Hazen (two more Cowboys) are headed to California this weekend for the Lake Sonoma 50 to try to earn their golden tickets. If they’re successful, five members will be representing the Cowboys at this year’s WS 100.
A year has passed since we interviewed Reed after sweeping the fast field at the Way Too Cool 50K. Trail Runner caught with him again up to learn about his lessons, goals and the evolution of the Coconino Cowboys.
What has changed for you since your last conversation with Trail Runner?
I just re-read that story. I had totally forgotten about the part where I said “It’s all about Western” near the end. That sentiment is still true. Having to qualify for it and get in that way [via a golden ticket], it’s my main goal race, and I just want to finish a 100-mile race. I wasn’t able to do that last summer at Run Rabbit Run [Reed DNFd in 2017]. My training has changed quite a bit.
I also picked up a couple more sponsorships since I last spoke with Trail Runner and started coaching—that’s how I get by now. I feel pretty lucky to be able to do that and live where I want to live here in Flagstaff.
What have you learned–any specific high points and low points?
Run Rabbit Run was the first race that I DNFed [did not finish] in my 12 years of running and racing. That was super frustrating, but I did learn a lot. I had this rule for myself, which I broke that day: “Train high, race low.” Run Rabbit Run was at the same elevation or higher than where I train. I think the elevation had a significant impact on me.
High points have been going to places like New Zealand and Spain. Getting second at Bandera was a high point. Even though it wasn’t a win, I still got my golden ticket for Western States. Going to Tarawera in New Zealand, that was a great experience and a great race. I really want to go back next year to get the win there. Hopefully it’s not pouring rain for the week before the race like it did last year.
How did the Coconino Cowboys come about?
Two years ago Tim and Jim were going to race the Lake Sonoma 50 and I went to crew for them. While camped along the California coast along the way, we were talking, like, “Hey, we’re a pretty good group. We were all college runners and could be really good trail runners. We should have a name.”
Jim threw out Coconino Cowboys. Coconino is the name of the county that Flagstaff is in and it seemed to fit.
Lake Sonoma is coming up next weekend, how are the Coconino Cowboys celebrating their two-year anniversary?
There’s a bunch of us going. Eric [Senseman] and Jared [Hazen] are flying out because they are the ones racing and they don’t want to drive 13 hours. I’m driving out with my girlfriend, Tim is going with his girlfriend, Jim is driving out and may even be going with his girlfriend. Tommy Rivers [champion of the 2016 TransRockies 120 Mile and a Coconico Cowboy] is coming, too.
I’ve seen what Eric and Jared have been doing on Strava. Those guys are fit. Jared just did the A1 Loop around 6-minute pace, which is a 21-mile run with rolling hills. We’ve run that since Tim and I were in college—that’s fast. If they can hold on and finish, I think they can secure a ticket. It seems like a lot of the top runners have been dropping out of Sonoma, so that’s good for the Cowboys.
Ultrarunning is traditionally an independent sport. Are you all invested in the team ethos of the Coconino Cowboys or are you each focused on individual goals?
A bit of both. We all have our own sponsors, and we can all benefit financially from doing well individually at such a big race. But on the other hand, we all train together, we’re all really good friends, we’re all Coconino Cowboys and we all want to see each other do well. I think the better we all do, the bigger it could be, like greater than the sum of its parts.
Are you planning to race between now and the WS 100?
Yeah, I’m signed up for Transvulcania, which is what I am training for now. It’s like six weeks out from Western, so I think it’ll be a pretty good race to prep. It’s only like 47 or 48 miles, so not too far, but it has a lot of climbing. It’s not what I’m used to but it’s what I’m trying to train for, those hillier European-style races. There’s a good group of Americans going over as well.
What clichés do you see in ultrarunning right now?
The clichés I see are the ones that have always been around, you know, that trail runners are the hippies, they’re slow and they’re just out in the woods running around.
I think the Coconino Cowboys specifically are changing that with the way we race and the way we train. The Cowboys put in a lot of miles, a lot of climbing, and we show up to a race really ready to give it everything we’ve got. Trail running isn’t slow. If you want to win the race, especially if we are there, you’ve got to basically out train us, which we are trying to keep people from doing by working so hard.
Do you have goals for Western States?
Just like any other race, go out there and win and run with the Cowboys.
— Jeff Colt, an avid mountain runner, lives in Carbondale, Colorado. He seeks trails, tele turns, freshly baked bread and high mountain huts.