2x Leadville 100 Champion (2006, 2007)
What is your favorite ultra that you have competed in, and why?
“Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc or Cavalls del Vent in Spain. I compete in order to have others bring out my best effort and to participate in a larger community of mountain-loving individuals. Both of these races had deep, high-class, international fields when I ran them and were exciting, dramatic spectacles that made the race feel like a big deal. Chamonix (the start/finish of UTMB) is arguably the international capital of mountain sports, so it’s a very inspiring place with lots of inspiring characters. Cavalls del Vent is staged in a tiny town high in the Pyrenees, but the support and enthusiasm from the locals is outstanding. I also have a high appreciation for more subdued, intimate events, but I often fulfill that aspect of my running on my own during training, or with a small group of friends. As such, I like going to races that have a lot of excitement and energy surrounding them.”
What is your educational background?
The Colorado College, 2006. B.A. Physics, Philosophy, Geology
University of Colorado, 2011. M.A. (w/o thesis) Geography
You have an incredibly varied background. Which part of your resume’ translates best to the world of ultra?
“I’m not quite sure what you mean. Work background? Educational background? Athletic background? My athletic background isn’t actually that varied. I dabbled in team sports (football and basketball) a little bit in high school, but I’ve been an obsessed runner since 1995; that’s translated pretty well to running long races in the mountains.”
Is there a race you always turn to as inspiration when training?
“Not really. Usually, it’s whatever the next big goal race is for me. Lately (the last couple years), I’ve been particularly, consistently inspired by Nolan’s 14—not a race, but a single-push link-up of 14 14ers in central Colorado’s Sawatch Range.”
Is there one portion of your training that you think universally translates to all runners?
“Consistency, I suppose. Nothing substitutes putting in the work, every day. As humans, we tend to improve at whatever it is that we do a lot.”
The Ultra scene is changing rapidly—more money, more sponsors—in your estimation is this improving or hurting the running scene?
“Well, for someone like myself—who currently makes a living within the sport—I suppose it’s a good thing. But nothing is ever so cut-and-dried as proclaiming it “improving or hurting”, “good thing or bad thing”, etc. Like most of life, I think the answer is relative and dependent upon one’s value structure. I can easily appreciate both sides of the argument, in this case.”
Describe the moment your realized that ultrarunning was your true passion?
“Running has been a passion of mine since 1995, but I don’t remember ever having an epiphanal moment about it back then. I was too young, I suppose. However, with regard to running in the mountains and “ultra” running, it was July 2006 and I was on a long run in Teton National Park. Everything clicked on that run—my effort level, the ambiance of the morning with low, swirling clouds and towering peaks—and I knew in that moment that I wanted to spend as much of my life as possible out in the mountains, experiencing and interacting with the natural world.”
What aspects of your training do you have difficulty with? How do you overcome those mental obstacles?
“Usually, holding myself back. I often get too psyched and do too much at too high of an intensity for it to be sustainable. I still struggle with being satisfied with “just enough” time out on the mountain and not crossing the line into overtraining and/or injury.”
Are you technology driven or do you run by feel? Or a combination of both?
“A combo of both. On a macro-level, my running is quite intuitive. On the micro-level, I tend to pay attention to only a couple of quantitative parameters, namely, vertical feet gained and various splits on runs that I do repeatedly. So, a stopwatch and an altimeter are both pretty important to me.”
There are so many amazing new products available in today’s ultra running world—how much do you explore all of these options? Are you a “keep it simple” person or do you like to see what the new technologies can deliver?
“It’s always better to keep it simple, but I’m always interested in having the best tool for a specific task. For instance, if, say, a crampon or ice axe can be made lighter without reducing functionality, then I’m all for that kind of innovation. A lot of the time, though, I’m trying to leave most of the tools at home and instead have the skillset and mindset to meet the mountain on its own terms, as much as is reasonable.”
As an elite athlete do you think your training becomes as much a mental exercise as a physical one?
“Sure. I believe the mind and body are inextricably connected. Training one means you’re also training the other.”
During a race—cuss words or words of encouragement—and how do you use these mental pokes to push it to the next level?
“I prefer cuss words coming from myself and words of encouragement coming from spectators/crew. I doubt that I’m ever reaching any sort of “next level”; I’m usually just trying to finish upright, with dignity reasonably intact.”
Getting lost out on the trail is no fun but in hindsight is there a time that happened to you can that can be considered humorous now?
“I can’t remember ever really being lost out on the trail.”
Is there a difference between sports becoming life and sports being part of and enhancing one’s life? In other words, how do your balance your life as an athlete with your life outside of athletics?
“Eat good food, read good books, listen to good music, and laugh.”
What does the next 12 months hold for you? Do you work on a long arc or just take life as it comes?
“At the beginning of each new year, I generally have running goals for the next 12 months. In 2014, I will likely focus my running around three big efforts: the Transgrancanaria 125K on March 1st, some 100mi-type effort in the first half of the summer (either Western States 100, Nolan’s 14, or the Hardrock 100), and then UTMB in late summer.”