Cameron Clayton Post-2013 TNF EC 50 Mile Interview
They say that lightning never strikes the same place twice, but Cameron Clayton proved this is not the case. At the 2013 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships, he bettered his third-place performance from last year with a second-place finish this year. In the following interview, Cameron talks about how his pre-race bout with the flu affected his performance, who some of the guys were with whom he spent time on course, and why this year’s second-place run felt easier than last year’s third-place effort.
[Editor’s Note: For more information, we’ve published a full TNF 50 results article.]
Cameron Clayton Post-2013 TNF EC 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Cameron Clayton after his second-place finish at TNF 50. Nice work, Cameron.
Cameron Clayton: Thanks very much, Bryon.
iRunFar: I think when you came across the finish line or shortly thereafter you told François [d’Haene] that it feels a lot better to finish second than third.
Clayton: Much better. Tremendously worlds different.
iRunFar: You had a great race out there.
Clayton: Thank you.
iRunFar: How did it go?
Clayton: It went good. It went awesome. I’m so proud of getting second. I did really well. The first 20 were really easy. I couldn’t eat anything because my stomach is still messed up from having the flu. So downhills which I typically love were tremendously difficult. It was playing a balancing game not throwing up, not feeling like I’m going to tear anything. Uphills were great. One of the upsides of having the flu was that I slept 10 hours per day and I didn’t run very much, so I was pretty well rested and had some good training going into it. You know, I got the flu at a much better time than Sage [Canaday] or Dakota [Jones], so I’m very lucky actually looking in hindsight.
iRunFar: You young kids need to take better care of yourselves.
Clayton: It’s Boulder—it’s an epidemic there.
iRunFar: The plague has hit Boulder.
Clayton: All my friends have the flu in Boulder. You’re going to have it now in a week. Bring it out to Utah for us.
iRunFar: Flu is going to Moab folks. Yeah, you went out conservatively for you.
Clayton: I was out two minutes slower than I was last year coming through six miles.
iRunFar: You weren’t full throttle.
Clayton: No. I just felt decent, so I was like, Alright, let’s see how it goes. I felt pretty good until the group caught us, then I had a rough patch for about 25 miles with some okay.
iRunFar: When I saw you at mile 30, it looked like you were going to be putting out the parachute and going backwards.
Clayton: That’s what I thought I might be doing. I passed Dylan [Bowman] going downhill and I started being able to really go downhill pretty well, so, There’s hope. I didn’t catch the guys in front of me as much as I didn’t die as badly. It was a war of attrition really, like how this race can be so often. They all just came back to me more than I went up to them.
iRunFar: Even though you like to talk a big game sometimes, the race of attrition and sort of evenness does more count in the end?
Clayton: I’m a master of attrition. I go into attrition every race. I go into the red zone and live in there.
iRunFar: Last year it was your second 50 miler and could you have imagined having the season and the strength you’ve had this year?
Clayton: You know, this race wasn’t as hard as last year’s race.
iRunFar: Really, how’s that?
Clayton: Just doing a couple more… you get better; you get used to it.
iRunFar: Physical aspect, the mental aspect, fueling—what have you gained over the last year?
Clayton: Physical aspect—I gained a little bit. I could continue rolling out some miles a little bit easier. My climbing has gotten quite a bit better. Last year I wouldn’t have gotten… I’d have gotten fourth this year if I had the same kind of climbing fitness. Yeah, I could climb a lot better this year. Then, probably my hydration actually improved a lot this year. I have to drink a lot more than I thought I ever would.
iRunFar: You’re probably not eating more than you used to.
Clayton: No, especially with the flu, I had two gels today and took in all my energy with GU Brew.
iRunFar: That’s like the anti-Western States plan there.
Clayton: My plan was going swimmingly until I hurt my foot there.
iRunFar: Yeah, but you were eating how many gels an hour?
Clayton: I think by the time I hit 50 miles, I had already taken in 30 gels.
iRunFar: It was a bit of a different approach to things even if unintentional. Are you taking some time off?
Clayton: I am. I’m taking three weeks off completely, then I’m doing some more skiing toward January (half and half), and then full event training come February and March.
iRunFar: Anything already on your schedule next year?
Clayton: A lot more Skyrunning—I’ll probably do the Skyrunning Series and Sky Distance and then also some ultras thrown in here and there.
iRunFar: Any race in particular inspiring you for next year?
Clayton: I’m really excited, especially if I get on the US Team for the Championships out in Mont Blanc, there’s a Mont Blanc marathon I’ll be a part of and probably the vertical K. If I get onto the U.S. Team, which there’s a chance, it would be great to go and see if we could get a U.S. guy on the top of podium… or two… or three. I’m really excited for that. It’s fast. It’s a fast mountain marathon by the standards of them. It’s exciting.
iRunFar: Your dad says you have to buy me a beer. I’m not making this up. What would you buy me if you had to buy me a beer tonight?
Clayton: I would send you a beer because I can’t buy anything here in California.
iRunFar: It’s illegal for Coloradoans to buy California beer?
Clayton: At least as a gift.
iRunFar: I like that.
Clayton: But you know, I’ll go ahead and mail you out one. I’ll think about it and come up with a really… I actually have a really good idea of what I’m going to send you.
iRunFar: Keep me warm—give me something good for the winter.
Clayton: Absolutely. This has a pleasure this year.
iRunFar: It’s been fun, Cam, and it’s great to have you and your performances and your personality out on the trails. So congratulations on a great season.
Clayton: Until 2014, probably.
iRunFar: Yeah, see you around.