Sage Canaday, 2013 Tarawera Ultramarathon Champ Interview

No one could match Sage Canaday’s move 20k into the 2013 Vibram Tarawera Ultramarathon 100k (results article) or eat up all of his 20+ minute lead when he faltered over the final 30k. Timothy Olson (post-race interview) came the closest, finishing only three minutes back, but in the end Sage won. In the following interview, Sage talks about how his up-and-down race played out, what it was like to have to walk downhills, and what lessons he learned on the day.

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Sage Canaday, 2013 Tarawera Ultramarathon Champion, Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Sage Canaday after his great win here at the 2013 Vibram Tarawera Ultra. How did it go out there, Sage?

Sage Canaday: It was a really challenging course. It was the toughest 100k I’ve run. I was lucky to pull of the win. I was really hurting the last 20k.

iRF: Yeah, I saw you out on the course and I asked you how it was. You said, “Way more technical than I expected.” Tell us a little about that. What was the trail like out there?

Canaday: Yes. It was beautiful. You had all these lakes you were running around. But there were all these roots because you’re running through the jungle. So there were all these tree roots, and so I’m hopping over those. I think I kind of have a longer stride, and being a road runner… it was technical for me. Some people probably wouldn’t say it was that technical, but I ran a lot slower than Bandera. It was definitely really challenging. It had lots of little ups and downs. I probably ran too hard in the middle, and then it kind of came back to bite me a little. I was lucky to hold on.

iRF: Early in the race, it seemed like any man’s race. You weren’t in the lead. Greg Vollet went out. Brendan Davies went out. Tell us a little bit about the first 30k.

Canaday: I think Greg was running the 60k.

iRF: He ended up running the 60k.

Canaday: Oh, okay. Yes, Brendan was up there. Vajin [Armstrong] was up there. Timothy Olson was a little back. But we were running pretty fast early on. I think the early part of the course is a little bit easier because you even have a couple of kilometers on the road. I didn’t want to get lost. We started in the dark a little, so I had my headlamp. I kind of waited until 12.5 miles to make my move on the uphill on that gravel road. I probably took it out a little too hard, but that’s when I took the lead in the 100k. I passed Greg there, too. Then, I probably just went too hard. I tried to open up a gap, and I did.

iRF: Yes, you did. I saw you at 45 or 55k before the out-and-back and you asked how long it had been and you said 10 minutes at the previous aid station. You were like, “What?”

Canaday: Yes, I was surprised. I probably went too hard there.

iRF: You had a 20+ minute lead. What happened that last 30k?

Canaday: Yes, I had 20 minutes at one point, and I knew that so that was helpful. I had that a little over 50 miles in the race at that point. We still had a lot of climbing left, which usually I like. I was able to run the uphills. But it was actually the downhills that were hard; my quads just weren’t ready for the pounding. I think I was actually dehydrated. There was a good stretch of 11 miles there without an aid station. I should have been on top of that more. It was mainly that I went too hard in the middle and it was catching up to me. I was walking on the downhills and looking over my shoulder.

iRF: Did you ever think that would happen to you as a runner that you would be walking downhills?

Canaday: Any minute you could just double over and cramp up. My stomach was actually a little iffy after that last aid station. I was just trying to force gels down. It was getting pretty messy. I was worried, but I didn’t know Tim was closing that close. You don’t get any feedback when you’re out with no aid station. He finished really strong. It was a good thing this race wasn’t 2k longer.

iRF: Any takeaway from this race?

Canaday: I need to run on my technical running skills on trails I’d say. I also need to work on pacing myself a little better and not getting carried away in the middle of the race and going too hard. I’ll probably do longer long runs to build more strength.

iRF: Well congratulations on this great win, Sage, and take care!

Bonus Question

iRF: One quick bonus question: What are you doing with the rest of your time here in New Zealand?

Canaday: We’re going to stay here for another day around the lakes. Since my parents came down and we have a rental car, we’re probably going to head up north of Auckland to some of the beautiful beaches here. I wish I had time to go down to the South Island like you did, but not this trip. Maybe next time hopefully.

iRF: Are you going to come back and defend your title?

Canaday: I’d love to!

iRF: Scott get this guy back over here.

Canaday: Yeah, Scott Sports!

There are 5 comments

  1. Dean G

    All class.

    And and interesting comment about having to walk the downhills… Though not surprising given how little he would have trained for downhills comparatively. Wonder if, after hearing that, Speedgoat still thinks he should jump in WS this year? :)

  2. Paul R

    Sage thoroughly deserves his win, and what a great bloke. He's starting to go up the distances nicely, although I think 100 miles is too much too soon. Having said that, in my opinion, he has the engine and the class to beat any top runner over 100k, when he has more experience. Speedgoat just want's to see a roadie get whipped because he definitely knows Sage isn't ready for state,s, just yet.

  3. Doug McKeever

    Sage is a such a gracious and humble man. When he REALLY figures this ultrarunning-on-trails thing out, who will be able to catch him? Not many, that's for sure. Look how he destroyed an already solid CR at White River 50 last year! And kudos to Timothy O. for making up all that ground.

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