After finishing fifth at TNF UTMB, Mike Foote returned home and ran some shorter races in preparation for The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships this weekend. In the following interview, Mike talks about how his training and racing have gone since UTMB, how the inaugural The Rut 50k went from his RD’s perspective, and how he’ll approach the race on Saturday.
[Editor’s Note: For more information, we’ve published a full men’s race preview with links to other pre-race interviews.]
Mike Foote Pre-2013 TNF 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Mike Foote before The North Face Endurance Challenge. How are you doing, Mike?
Mike Foote: I’m doing great.
iRunFar: Last time we were chatting you’d just finished fifthat UTMB?
Foote: Yeah, back at the end of August.
iRunFar: How has training gone since then? How was recovery first? It’s a lot of effort and training getting there.
Foote: It’s been good, you know, it’s been a switch-up this fall. Leading up to UTMB is always a big mountain, long day, slow grind kind of push. You just take off that volume. This fall is a mixture of coaching cross country for me, and hanging out in Missoula a lot more. It’s been good. Honestly, I’ve done more workouts like running fast and racing. I did four different races in between UTMB and here—some shorter stuff. I did a 50 miler down in Chile, a marathon in Moab, and a couple shorter ones around Missoula. It’s been fun. It’s been a different fall for me. Usually I just kind of do the training thing and not racing, but I threw in some more hard stuff this time which has been good.
iRunFar: I actually saw you down at the Moab Trail Marathon. We weren’t covering the race, but that was a very impressive run down there. I know Sage [Canaday] took a little wrong turn, but regardless of that, you guys would have been neck and neck for a marathon. That’s got to give you some confidence in terms of your speed.
Foote: Yeah, and I hadn’t raced a marathon in five or seven years, so it’s been awhile. That course is extremely technical as you know, so that definitely did even the playing field even though it was a little bit shorter, but it did feel good. It felt good to kind of be at an aerobic threshold when it felt like an aerobic threshold all day long.
iRunFar: So the intensity here will be a little less then?
Foote: Yeah, it’s hard to say that the intensity here will be less than anything because it always feels very intense no matter what.
iRunFar: From the gun. How is that? There’s such a deep field. Unlike UTMB where you guys did a pretty good job of holding yourselves back this year, are you going from the gun (here) or are you settling into your own race?
Foote: Yeah, I always settle into my own race no matter what, but I’m definitely… I want to be more aggressive than normal which still doesn’t mean… I mean, to be aggressive in this race is to hold on. It’s always a different thing every time. I’d like to kind of see where my limits are like everybody else. That involves putting yourself in the mix earlier on. This isn’t a race where you play catch up. At UTMB you can play catch up a little bit more and there’s that whole dynamic. But this is a race of attrition and trying to be in the mix but not being stupid. It’s that fine balance, and we’ll just see what the day lends us.
iRunFar: There are going to be people who will go off the front, not stupidly, but going all in for the win but knowing that there’s a good chance they’ll blow up. The problem with that is there are 10 guys who are going to do that and somebody is going to stick it.
Foote: Yeah, I know, that’s true. It’s so true. That’s never been my race strategy especially in an event like this.
iRunFar: You were so methodical at UTMB.
Foote: Yeah, it’s trying to find that balance. Somewhere in between, for me, will probably let me perform to my best potential.
iRunFar: You took part in a race this September off the course and behind the scenes—the first The Rut 50k up in Montana. How did that turn out?
Foote: It was great. We definitely wanted it to be a really fun, Montana-style event but also one that really had that mountain style to it—off trail, steep ridgelines, alpine, bad weather, all the above. It was a complete success this year.
iRunFar: It was a reasonably-sized field. There were some good runners—not the competition that you’re racing here on Saturday—but next year, it’s the Skyrunning Ultra Final.
Foote: Yeah, we nailed the bid for the Skyrunner World Series Ultra Final, and we couldn’t be more excited. I think our ethos matches that and the course fits the bill pretty well. Of course we have sections that are runnable trail, but there are definitely steep scree fields, technical ridgelines, exposure, and all the above.
iRunFar: Is it true or fair to say it was partly inspired to fill that role of Skyrunning in the U.S.?
Foote: Absolutely. Also, there are some amazing races in Montana, but none that really chase that world-class feel of bringing people from out of the region to the area. We really wanted to do that a little bit and host an event that brings a field like this event in our backyard. Hopefully that’s what will happen next September.
iRunFar: Having seen some preliminary schedules it looks like that’s going to be the case.
Foote: I sure hope so. That’s my goal. That’s what we’re working towards. Unfortunately, I can’t run it.
iRunFar: Oh, c’mon. Make [Mike] Wolfe take race-day duties.
Foote: Yeah, we’ll work that out.
iRunFar: Alternate years.
Foote: Yeah, that’s a good thought.
iRunFar: Well, best of luck this weekend and with that race.
Foote: Thanks, Bryon.
iRunFar: Love the new North Face. Very breathable.
Foote: They’re comfortable! It’s that time of year where you just don’t need to be in running shoes unless you’re running, you know what I mean?
iRunFar: You’ve got them all warmed up and ready to go.
Foote: It’s slipper season.
iRunFar: Do you want me to have them at the finish for you?
Foote: I would appreciate that. Absolutely.