Matt, you’ve had an epic summer so far. Setting the Zion Traverse Speed Record, a Colorado Trail speed record attempt, pacing and crewing at several 100-mile races, huge runs in the Wasatch. And now you’ve got Wasatch 100 coming up. How are you feeling mentally and physically heading into the race?
Mentally I’m in a very good spot. A lot of things in my life are going well right now, so I’m in a good head-space to race. I love my life. my friends and family and feel fortunate to be able to even attempt to run 100 miles. Physically I picked up a strained glute/piriformis on the Colorado Trail that I’m a bit worried about for race day. It’s felt ok, but at times it’s sharp pain, so we’ll see.
With the Wasatch mountains being your backyard and all, do you have an advantage against other runners who don’t know the trails as well?
All things considered I don’t know the course that well. If you compared me to my running partners like Jared Campbell, Christian Johnson and Roch Horton I am a newbie here in the Wasatch Mountains. In 2008 I lived here for a few months and I ran all but the first 25 miles of the course. This year I’ve really tried to not stress about it and overdue it. Honestly there are so many other great routes to run I’ve been enjoying other terrain for the past 5 weeks I’ve been back here in Salt Lake. However, I have run Big Water to Lambs, and just last night we ran the last 25 miles of the course in the dark to Midway. Really though, those runs were more about who I was running with, scouting the course was just a bonus.
What’s your favorite section of trail along the Wasatch 100 course?
I think up high on the Wasatch Crest, the section by Desolation Lake and Red Lovers Ridges is just spectacular single track. No roads or access, just beautiful views West towards Salt Lake and East towards Park City. I did some backcountry skiing up in that area this winter too and it’s just really pretty.
When the going gets tough out there, what keeps you going? How do you persevere through pain and fatigue?
As I said above first and foremost I’m just thankful to be able to run period. A point really driven home last year when I spent the whole season sidelined with injury. There aren’t a lot of people out there who are able to run a 500 mile piece of trail or a 100 mile race. I’m just happy to be out there, and I remind myself of that when the unpleasantries of ultra distance racing are front and center. As for persevering through pain and fatigue, they are part of the job description. I know they are coming and I welcome them. There is a masochistic part of me that really thrives when the going gets tough, the conditions get nasty or shit just hits the fan and I’m physically falling apart. I feel like I’m build for this.
What’s your goal for the race?
I really want to run my own race from start to finish. I want to focus on my effort and my time and how I feel and not worry about the fast guys up front. If I do that I think I can run top 5, and on a good day top 3. With that said I also don’t want to have anything left when I finish. I plan to leave it all out there on the trail. “Race my guts out”.. as they say. Or maybe just I say that.
Tell me a little about your training over the past month or so. You’ve been running serious vertical all summer, and clearly with the Colorado Trail adventure, you have plenty of miles under your belt. But how do you specifically alter your training regimen for a 100-mile race?
Coming off the 500 miles of Colorado trail I pretty much had the biggest base of my life. I ran my biggest mileage week ever, at 358 mountainous miles. So what I needed to do was sharpen. I could run for 18-24 hours a day no problem, but I lack any speed whatsoever. With all that in mind I was going to push my long run out to every 10 days, and run more shorter faster efforts. But all of that sort of went out the window when I realized the glute injury I sustained on the trail wasn’t going away. So I’ve just been doing what I can without aggravating it, with the main goal of showing up at the start line on September 10th. I did have the distinct pleasure of pacing my buddy Bill Huggins to 3rd place at Cascade Crest 100 Miler last week. At 33 miles this was my last long run two weeks before Wasatch and my glute behaved.
Who is crewing you at Wasatch 100? Will you have a pacer?
I’ve got a great crew. Ellen Parker is heading up the crew and will pace me as well. We’ve known each other for 10+ years, long before either of us were serious endurance athletes. She’s just a great friend and a great runner (she just took 1st at TransRockies open women’s division). My crew will also consist of Miriam Rabitz and her husband Darryl. They are long time coaching clients of mine from Seattle and have never witnessed anything like this before. This should be quite the experience for them!
No. Certainly not by me, and in all honestly I don’t think there are many out there who are capable of touching that record. I mean Karl ran his best time on the Wasatch course chasing Geoff last year, and ended up 2nd. Karl has won the race 6 times. I will say I think Nick Clark is FAST and he’s gotta be the favorite for the win this year.
Tell me about your fueling and hydration plan for this race. How will you stay fueled, and what will you eat/drink?
I try and keep it very simple. I’ll eat a clif shot gel every 20-30mins. One bottle will have 2 nuun tabs in it for electrolytes, the other bottle just water. My crew will give me Roch’s turkey sliders, which is avocado wrapped in turkey. That will give me some protein and good fats and the satiety of eating some real food. I’ll also graze fruit through the aid stations. Oh and ginger chews, I love ginger chews. I usually have my crew divert me away from the aid station so I don’t decide that Doritos and Mountain Dew are a good decision.
First 100-mile race in a few years for you. You feeling confident? Apprehensive?
Yeah I’m pretty good at getting hurt before 100 milers, so honestly I’m an unknown entity. But I’m also pretty good at suffering for long periods of time. Being 100 miles fully supported means it will feel catered compared to what I did on the 500 mile Colorado Trail. I feel like I can run forever, so I’m confident I’ll have a good race. Really I just can’t wait to get to the start line! I get serious taper tantrums.
What gear will you use for the race? Head to toe
Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-Poles for the first 18 miles. Mountain Hardwear Refueler Advanced shorts, Wicked T, mh visor, gloves, arm and calf sleeves at start. Rudy Project photochromic sunglasses, Montrail Rockridge shoes, Teko Socks, Nathan backpack and handhelds.
Good luck at Wasatch 100 Matt. We’ll check back in after the race for a post-race interview.