Timothy Olson and Sage Canaday have both had some great runs in 2013 and a pair of close battles at Tarawera and Transvulcania with Canaday coming out just a few minutes ahead of Olson both times. They’ll have another showdown at Snowbird Resort in the Wasatch Mountains at the Speedgoat 50k this weekend. In the following interview, Timothy and Sage talk about racing each other this season, how their strengths and weaknesses match up with the Speedgoat course, how they plan to race tomorrow, and what competitors they think will pose the biggest challenge.
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Timothy Olson and Sage Canaday Pre-2013 Speedgoat 50k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Timothy Olson and Sage Canaday before the 2013 Speedgoat 100… or 50k. How far is it?
Sage Canaday: I hope it’s not that far.
Timothy Olson: I wish.
iRF: You wish (Timothy); you, not so much (Sage). You guys have both had a great year so far. Sage, you won at Bandera; you had a good run at Transvulcania. Timothy, you won at Western States. You guys have raced each other a couple times this year. It started out at Tarawera. Sage, you had a pretty good lead there.
Canaday: Yeah, I went too hard, too early maybe.
iRF: And you (Timothy) paced yourself pretty well. You had a good last charge.
Olson: Yeah, but I let him get way far ahead. That was my bad.
iRF: How did that play out at Transvulcania? Again, I think two or three minutes you were behind.
Olson: Yeah, he keeps getting me by two or three minutes every time. Thank you (Sage) for not coming to Western.
Canaday: I haven’t run that far yet.
iRF: Was it the same sort of thing at Transvulcania? Did he have a big lead on you?
Olson: Yes, he went out hard. I’m not very quick at getting out. The legs need a little oil before they start moving. It’s probably something I need to work on on the shorter-distance races that I go out a little harder and try to get to that red line a little bit sooner. I feel more comfortable as the race goes on. That’s kind of how I race, and it’s worked well in the 100’s. It’s something I should work on on the others. Also, Sage is a fast little man and has had good races this year. It’s been fun racing him, and now we get to do another 50k together. It should be good.
iRF: Your strengths (Sage)—you’ve obviously in the recent past come from running some really strong marathons, and you’re looking to do some again come this fall right?
Canaday: Probably the winter.
iRF: The winter, yeah. You have that speed. How are you going to use it on a course like Speedgoat? It’s 50k, but it runs almost closer time-wise to a fast 50-miler.
Canaday: I don’t think I am. The average pace is going to be fairly slow because of all the climbing. There’s that technical section, too… and because of the altitude, as well. I think it comes down to lung capacity, too, being able to grind up hills, having a higher vo2 max and having a higher lactate threshold. Obviously, having done all that speedwork back in college and racing marathons, you’re used to that intensity of high heart rate efforts. So then it’s just a matter of not falling and breaking your leg or getting lost or bonking epically. That’s all happened, too.
iRF: There are basically two huge climbs on the course. The last five are off mountain. How are you going to meter out your strength for those two climbs? Are you going to save some for the effort?
Canaday: I’m just going to have to play it by ear. I have no idea what’s in store for me. I’ll probably write down Rickey [Gates] and Kilian [Jornet]’s splits and have them on my arm. I usually do. I’ll kind of gauge off of that and kind of play it by ear. I don’t really know what to expect. It’s going to be brutal. It’s going to be painful. I know that. There will be a lot of pain.
iRF: Pain is in the mix for tomorrow. Speaking of pain, Timothy, you just came off of Western States, throwing in another great race to win it again. How is your recovery going?
Olson: The recovery has been really smooth. After you run a hundred, you’re tired, of course, for awhile. All the muscles and the body felt great. Even a few days afterwards I was running. It still takes a good month, I think, to get your energy levels back up and even wanting to race again. It just takes a lot out of you. You’re pretty fried on racing at that point and just looking forward to getting out on good runs. Tomorrow, that’s basically what I came here to do. I like 50k’s and I like running in any sense, but I stick to the longer distances. But if I’m going to do a 50k, this one seems about right and what I’d like to do. I’m looking forward to all the climbs here to get some training for UTMB, some altitude, some powerhiking, and just a way to push myself as I get back into training for UTMB. Yeah, I’ll try to stay up there with those fast guys and kind of see what I can do. Otherwise, I’ll just enjoy the race and kind of size things up.
iRF: You’re sort of in between… obviously this is an important race, but you did Western States as a focus and UTMB is a focus. Any reason to sort of not to go for it and almost lay it out there more early on? What do you have to lose?
Olson: Nothing to lose. I’ll start out hard and then we’ll just see how the legs are in the downhill. I just did a lot of downhill at Western States. I’m making sure my quads are ready for UTMB. This will give me some good crushing on them to see how they’re feeling and feel that out. If they’re feeling okay, then I’ll rocket down hard. If they’re feeling little twinges, I’ll back off and play it smart and be ready for UTMB.
iRF: Sage, you have raced your fellow Cornellian, Max King, at UROC. He edged you out in the final miles in your first 100k. Now you’re racing him in a shorter distance and you’ve got more experience. Are you looking forward to paying him back?
Canaday: Yeah, well, I raced him at Sonoma.
iRF: Sonoma, oh yeah, you saw him as you were going by late in the race.
Canaday: I was aggressive there. I’m looking forward to it. Max is a great guy and always an inspiration. I’ve looked up to him ever since our Cornell days. He’s a great guy to be out there running against.
iRF: There’s a lot of speed in the race especially with someone like him. Either of you, if you’re coming off Hidden Peak for the last time in the lead, are you going to be running scared as heck with the talent and especially the speed behind you?
Olson: I’m sure scared, yeah, but that’s going to be just a good painful quad bashing. Who cannot trip and land in their face? Who can deal with flying down—I’m sure these guys will be at five-minute pace down there.
Canaday: I’m not sure about five-minute pace—not me.
iRF: We’ll get your Strava splits on Sunday.
Canaday: We’ll see, yeah, I’ll put it on Strava.
Olson: With the group out there, they’ll be flying.
iRF: Sage, have you continued to work on your downhill ability? You’ve been living up in Nederland, Colorado, for awhile.
Canaday: Yeah, definitely, I’ve just tried to get more vert in my training, basically. That means going up and also going down and relaxing a bit and getting the flow—trying to beat up the quads a bit. I definitely don’t get in as much vert as this guy or Tony [Krupicka] or probably even Max, but I’ve made a conscious effort to do more vert especially after Transvulcania where I couldn’t handle the shear amount of vertical—14,000 feet—I just couldn’t handle it even on the climb. I like climbing, but not there.
iRF: Well, you’ve got 11,000 feet tomorrow in a little more condensed format.
Canaday: Yeah, it will be tough and at altitude.
iRF: It’s only up and down at a Transvulcania and this is the same but less distance.
Canaday: Yeah, we’ll see. It will be tough.
iRF: You guys have any predictions? Assuming you’re out of it, who else is going to…
Olson: I’m never out of it, but…
iRF: Out of picking yourself for the win.
Olson: Yeah, well this guy (Sage) will probably have a pretty good one. Max is awesome. I’m looking forward to seeing Tony out there and hoping he’ll show up healthy and get to bust out a good race because getting sick at Transvulcania sucked. So I’m sure he’s excited to get a good run in. He’s healthy to train, I believe, and he kind of lives at 14,000 feet, so he’ll have a good run. We’ll see how Cameron [Clayton]’s foot is doing after Western, but the guy is lightning quick, too. There’s a good mix there. There are probably guys I’m forgetting, too.
Canaday: Yeah, I think a lot of guys will take it out hard going for that first prime which is pretty sweet to have—$1,000.
iRF: Are you going to go for that one?
Canaday: I think a lot of guys will go for that.
Olson: Pay for the trip.
Canaday: It will be intense because you’ve got John Tribbia and Cody Moats, some local guys who are used to climbing are going to be in the mix for sure. Cameron, I think he said he was going to take it out hard, so there’s that. It will be interesting.
iRF: The interesting thing here is that last year Rickey took it out hard and got the prime and still had a great race.
Olson: You can recover on that downhill.
iRF: There are two huge downhills, yeah.
Olson: You rip it up in 8.5 miles and you’re sucking wind, but then you get to kind of recover a little bit on that down… maybe… you never know.
Canaday: It’s 11,000 feet of altitude. It’s pretty hard to breathe a little bit.
Olson: For sure.
iRF: Want me to have an oxygen tank up on Hidden Peak for you guys?
Olson: Yeah, that would be good.
Canaday: An oxygen bottle.
iRF: Cool, guys. Thanks for doing this great group interview and best of luck to you.
iRF: Good luck out there.