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Yitka Winn Monday, 22 April 2013 10:39 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Q&A with Spring 2013 Trophy Series Leaders - Page 2


Nearing the halfway point in the Blue Sky Marathon, Fort Collins, Colorado, in October 2012. Photo by Erin Bibeau

How long have you been trail running?
I've been running trail races since 2010. My first race was a multi-sport relay that I soloed, the Mountains to Sound 100. It was equal parts mountain and road biking, kayaking and running. I hadn't even kayaked before the race and had no idea what I was doing, but that made it an adventure. That race spurred me to run my first 50-miler a little more than a month later, the White River 50, and I was instantly hooked on trail running.

What do you attribute your faster time this year at the Badger Mountain Challenge to?
A combination of things. For one, I've focused on improving my downhill running, not braking and shedding my fear of falling. Thankfully, living in Fort Collins gives me access to plenty of gnar trails to sharpen that. I've also gotten a handle on my nutrition and found what works for me, which makes a world of difference in the second 50 miles. The last thing was just getting comfortable being uncomfortable. The last 25 miles of the race were still painful. I just kept my chin up and told myself no one was going to pass me.

What's your favorite thing about trail running?
Running during the week is a form of mental therapy; I often think about research ideas, about my family and friends, or just take in the scenery. When I run alone I focus on the contours of the mountains, the texture of the ground, the sound of the wind ... it's very Zen. Coming back to civilization after an experience like that always gives me a fresh perspective on life.

Do you have plans to run other Trophy Series races this year?
I'll be at the Bighorn 100 this year, otherwise the other races on my schedule (Quad Rock 50, Leadville 100) aren't on the list. I might do the Bear Chase in September. I haven't run a 50K or 50-mile race on a flat course, and it might be fun to see how fast I can go.

Anything else you'd like to share about yourself?
Beer is the key to my success.



Photo courtesy of Scot Hartman

How did you get into trail running?
Oddly enough, I got into trail running during a deployment to Iraq.  I ran a marathon on a whim that involved running multiple laps around the FOB [Forward Operating Base]. My friend was giving me some ribbing about it and at some point he ran across a website for the Leadville 100 and threw it at me as a gauntlet. So, I got into trail running to meet his challenge.

What was your experience at 24 Hours of Utah like this year?
The race was very cold and occasionally windy, but facing and overcoming hardships is part of the reason we do these races.

The race has you alternate running odd laps clockwise and even laps counterclockwise. So as I saw friends coming, we were able to high five each other and cheer each other on.

My wife is my biggest supporter for these events and I was able to see her or my daughters on each lap. That always gives me a boost. My parents and brother also drove over for the day to cheer me on. On the last out and back, my dad, age 69, decided to join me. We spent the time pointing out rock formations and just enjoying the time. It was a great way to finish up and a time I'll cherish.

What other races have you done in the past?
My ultras over the last few years include the Leadville Silver Rush 50, Leadville Trail 100, Big Horn 100, Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc 100 and Moab 100.

What's your favorite thing about trail running?
Running on roads seemed to be a lesson in monotony. You are stuck in "How far have I gone?", "How far do I still need to go?" and “When will this be over?" mode.

Running trails, for me, seems to be more about the moment.  I can get lost in the joy of dodging around trees, jumping rocks, alternating up and down hills, enjoying the scenery. Climbing some of those hills can easily devolve into "ughh ... will I get to the top?".  But it is all worth it when you reach the top and look out over the world.

What advice do you have for others?
It's never too late to get into running. I've always been active and into sports, but I ran my first marathon on my 35th birthday. I finished my first trail 100-miler at 40. Get out on a trail.  Hike, bike, run ... whatever, just get out there.

Read on for more Q&A's ...


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