Nick Clark is Mr. Consistent, especially at Western States where he’s finished third each of the past two years, becoming the only person to break 16 hours at the race more than once. In the following interview, Nick talks about how he toned down his racing to focus on training this spring, the lesser known runners who could have standout races, and how he’ll tackle the race in this year’s heat.
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Nick Clark Pre-2013 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Nick Clark prior to the 2013 Western States 100. How are you doing, Nick?
Nick Clark: Good, Bryon. How have you been?
iRF: Alright. You’ve got this race figured out it seems.
Clark: Yeah, but I’ve never run in 100F temperatures.
iRF: You’re the only person to run under 16 hours twice. You have a couple 3rd place finishes. But 100 degrees…
Clark: I know. That’s a whole new element.
iRF: How does that change things? How do you run in the heat?
Clark: Alright. Not great, but not terrible. Somewhere in between. I’m not worrying about it too much. We’ll just see what the day brings as always.
iRF: Gotcha. It doesn’t seem like you’ve raced a lot this spring. Did you purposely go a little easy?
Clark: Yeah, I tried to dial back the mileage a little bit and also the racing so I could really have a solid training block. That’s what I have done. Lake Sonoma was a decent race. Then I ran a local marathon the weekend after that which wasn’t a great idea. I felt kind of terrible for 2 weeks after that. That was kind of stupid. After I got through that two week period of leg sludge, it’s been great. I’ve been feeling super good. I just had a great run this morning up on the 5 Lakes Trail up to the back side of Squaw there. I’m feeling good.
iRF: Feeling good. No setbacks this whole season, right?
Clark: No, not really. No injury issues. It’s just been good steady training.
iRF: You’ve been really steady the last couple of years. There’s always new talent coming into Western States. Who are the wildcards this year? Who are the new folks for the win?
Clark: For the win? Outside of the guys everyone is talking about, there’s a guy from Idaho (Jeremy Humphries) who I think might surprise a few people. He kind of reminds me of myself in 2010 when nobody knew who the heck I was, and I just kind of snuck in there and had a great race. I think he’s going to have a good run. Jake Rydman, my buddy Jake, he’ll have a good run. He seems like he’s fit and he knows the course. He’s a Western States geek.
iRF: It helps. It helped Thornley, AJW, it helped Uhan last year.
Clark: It’s his first Western, his second 100, but he knows the course. He knows how to pace himself on it. I think he’ll go well. Joe Uhan had a great run at Lake Sonoma that really impressed me. I think Joe’s going to have a good run. My buddy Pedatella (Nick) from Colorado,
iRF: Do you think he’s going to surprise a few folks.
Clark: I think he might sneak in the top-10. He’s steady and consistent and like we’ve been saying, it’s going to be a hot day.
iRF: There’s going to be lots of attrition.
Clark: Yeah. I was going to say one guy who people are probably pretty familiar with but who no one is talking about is Jorge (Maravilla). Jorge is going to have a good run. Don’t tell him I told you that, but I think he’s going to have…
iRF: He won’t know. No one tell Jorge.
It’s going to be hot. You’ve finished 3rd twice in a row. How do you… you’ve run really smart consistent races. Do you feel the urge to go for the gusto from the start? Do you try to run your Clark textbook race?
Clark: Here’s what’s going to happen. It’s going to be a hot day like we said. There are going to be a lot of people who fall off pace later in the race. I think it’s going to take 15:30-15:45 to win it. So you pace your race to run that kind of finish time. If I can run in that range, I think I’m going to be in the mix. We’ll see. The way I think it’s probably going to go out is there will be a lead pack that is going to go out hard and then a chase pack. I see myself being in that chase pack.
iRF: Anything you do special or any tips for people running in the heat?
Clark: Uh, no. I’m from England, man.
iRF: You shouldn’t know how to handle heat. It’s not natural for you, man.
Clark: We run in the rain and the fog out there. Through the heat of the day you slow it down, of course.
iRF: So you consciously do that?
Clark: Yeah. You really can’t help but run slower, but I think consciously you’d got to dial it back. You’ve got to make sure that you’re making use of the creek crossings to dip your hat and to douse and cool off your quads. You get ice at all the aid stations and make sure you douse at all the aid stations. You just do what you can to stay cool.
iRF: You’re going to back off through the heat of the day. Does that mean you push a little bit early?
Clark: I’ve been thinking about that. I think that, yeah, there may be something to be said for that strategy. You push maybe a little through Robinson and then cruise the downhill when it starts to get a little toasty. You do have good cover through there, so the heat won’t be too bad, I’m hoping.
iRF: All the way down to Swinging Bridge.
Clark: Right. Once you get on Swinging Bridge, it’s hot down there.
iRF: Then you’re walking up a steep hill. You were walking when I saw you there.
Clark: Yeah. It’s a hike/run type of thing… maybe 60/40. There’s a good spring right across from Swinging Bridge, so you make sure you take full advantage of that and get your hat wet and get your clothes sopping. Then you get your head down and you hoof up to Devil’s Thumb. Then you’ve got to get you through to Michigan Bluff which is just a grunt grind and then the race is on from there.
iRF: Unlike the rest of us grunts further back in the pack, you don’t have to deal with… I have to deal with a little cooling off in the evening. You’re going to be hopefully finishing right about… it’s still going to be hot out.
Clark: It’s going to be hot. It’s always hot down at the river. Even last year it felt a little bit hot down at the river, and that was 75F or high 70’s. It’s going to be 25 degrees hotter, so it’s going to be really hot going down there. Then up to Green Gate is super exposed, so that’s going to be super hot. Then you get in the trees, so I’m hoping once you get past Green Gate it’s going to be a little more manageable. For those people who have saved their legs, that’s where it’s all going to happen—the last 20 miles.
iRF: I guess you’re going to be one of those people saving your legs.
Clark: We’ll see.
iRF: Trying to go ahead of that 3rd place.
Clark: That’s the plan. That’s always the plan.
iRF: Best of luck out there, Clarkie.
Clark: Thanks, Bryon.