Gary Gellin 2012 Way Too Cool 50k Champ Interview

Two weekends ago, Gary Gellin won the Way Too Cool 50k in the course record time of 3:27:43. A weekend later he was up at the Chuckanut 50k, which is where we caught up with him to talk about his race at WTC. In the following interview, Gary talks about his run at Way Too Cool, how he’s changed his training over the past year, and his group Tahoe Rim Trail FKT project for August.

Interview Transcript

iRunFar:  I’m with Gary Gellin, the 2012 Way Too Cool champion and course record holder here at Chuckanut 50k. I figured I’d catch up to you and hear how that race went at WTC. You’re a very analytical person in your racing. You literally have every mile split written down from 2011 and this year. Tell us how the race played out. How do those two compare?

Gary Gellin:  This is my third year at Way Too Cool. Last year was the new course. I got fourth two years ago and third last year. I really was just focused on what my own time was. I wasn’t focused on the course record. Last year, Mike Wolfe and Todd Braje were first and second and, you know, I really feel that they’re champions of another level beyond me. I felt good, I’ve been training a lot harder this year. I’ve ramped up the mileage a bit more. There was some pretty tough competition this year like Rich Hanna. I had some guys that really pushed me.

iRF:  Were they running with you at all or just hiding behind you?

Gellin:  We had a group of four together for a long ways. Everyone seemed pretty comfortable together for about 16 miles. Then a couple of us took off and stayed away for a while. Rich Hanna caught us on the Western States Trail. Then there were three of us until mile 25. I felt good and I attacked on one of the major climbs, Goat Hill, and kept going. I stayed away. I knew from my splits that if I could get under 3.5 hours I would be pretty close to the course record.

iRF:  How have you ramped up your training this year? That’s a big step up. How have you changed things?

Gellin:  My mileage is pretty low by most standards of ultra competitors. The last couple years I’ve been running 50 mpw pretty consistently, all hilly trail miles. This year I’ve been running 70 mpw. I’ve got some 100 milers planned this year. My big goal in August is a FKT (fastest known time) on the Tahoe Rim Trail. So everything is geared towards that. I think running strong at Way Too Cool, running pretty strong at 50k’s is a byproduct of just getting stronger due the additional miles. Not any speed work. I do very little speed work.

iRF:  How about intensity in your actual training? Are you training pretty hard or is it laid back?

Gellin:  It’s petty laid back. Every other day I do a long run of 2.5-3 hrs. Every other day I get a good recovery. But, really, no speed work. What I’ll occasionally do is on long runs 20-25 miles I’ll go full gas for the last couple miles.

iRF:  So you’ve been doing your long runs every other day and that’s gone well for you?

Gellin:   Yeah, it’s going well. I think it’s just getting stronger. Training for strength. If you talk to Adam Campbell, who won Chuckanut today, his focus on strength. Goeff Roes, a lot of the other guys…

iRF:  It’s not about intensity, it’s not about speed work for you, it’s…

Gellin:  Right, it’s trying to be strong for the last 10k of a 50k.

iRF:  So what 100 milers are you going for this year?

Gellin:  In May, I’ve got the Zion 100, which is a new event. It’s small. It’s kind of a testing ground for new equipment, just trying to get everything right, get the pacing right. I’ve got that and then I’m doing some 50 milers this year. Zion will be the one major stepping stone for Tahoe Rim Trail.

iRF:  You’re putting together a group for the Tahoe Rim Trail, right?

Gellin:  Yes, there’s seven of us:  Leigh Schmitt, Victor Ballesteros, Jean Pommier, Ben Lewis, Chikara Omine, Adam Hewey. So we’re all going to start together with the intent of finishing together. That probably won’t happen and we have some contingency for that. The idea is that we’ll have a group together like a team time trial for camaraderie, for fun and safety.

iRF:  You can probably acknowledge that a couple of those people might not be at the finish line.

Gellin:  A couple people, yeah, and it might not even be me, so if Leigh Schmitt is feeling good and on track to beat the record we’ll send him ahead to finish in record time.

iRF:  Well cool and congratulations on your win at Way Too Cool and you had a great run out here.

Gelling:  Thanks and yeah, it was a suffer fest (today).

iRF:  But you finished and it was alright.

Gellin:  Absolutely.

There are 5 comments

  1. Tim Smith

    Good talk. Sounds like Gary is a top-notch guy. He mentions doing next to no speed work, yet runs a sub 7 pace at WTC, crazy! I wonder how long it takes to develop that kind of turnover without doing speed work.

  2. Jeff Lang

    I had the same thought. Gary does have a cycling background and is likely a

    naturally gifted runner. Tough competitor too!

  3. Alex from New Haven

    Gary,

    good luck on the TRT FKT. I did it unsupported and fast (for me ~6 days) a few years ago. That was way harder than Western States. It will be awesome if you guys take a shot at Kilian's time (38 hrs ?). He slept for an hour and lost an being off track in Desolation… so A) it's tough and B) might just be doable by a group of fast guys you mentioned. Good luck!!

  4. Alex from New Haven

    Oh, one follow up:

    a) the elevation, while not extreme, does get up to 9000-10,000ft a few times and I found it hard to push for long stretches. By the end my lungs and blood had adapted some, but my feet were trashed.

    b) the soil is pretty sandy on the East and North sides of the lake and that sapped some energy.

    c) make sure you've reconned most or all of the whole route as getting lost while your brain is mush is the worst. There is also new section of trail North of Tahoe city and make sure your maps are up to date.

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