After a series of strong finishes at trail races in his home country over the last couple of years, Australia’s Blake Hose blew it out of the water with his third-place finish at the 2015 Transvulcania Ultramarathon. In the following interview, Blake talks about how the course suited his strengths and weaknesses, how he managed to arrive to the long descent in good-enough shape to run strong, and where he hopes to race next.
For more on how the race unfolded, read our Transvulcania results article.
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Blake Hose Post-2015 Transvulcania Ultramarathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here at the Transvulcania Ultramarathon finish. I’m here with third-place finisher, Blake Hose, of Australia. Congratulations!
Blake Hose: Thank you very much.
iRunFar: How’s it going?
Hose: I’m worn out, but I’m really satisfied and really happy. I didn’t expect today, so it’s pretty cool.
iRunFar: I’m not sure that anyone would have called you for a podium position today.
Hose: No, I don’t think they did.
iRunFar: Would you have called yourself for one?
Hose: No, I don’t think so given how deep the field was. I sort of felt like maybe if I had a really good day I could sort of sneak into the top five. Yeah, it’s exceeded my expectations.
iRunFar: That’s awesome. You just looked strong all day when we saw you, start to finish, and among the men’s top 10, you were among the strongest on the final descent. Did you feel good all the way through? What happened?
Hose: I felt pretty amazing at the start as you do after you’ve had a taper, but it sort of just continued on. I felt really strong right up until El Pilar. I still didn’t begin to feel bad. I was just a little tired; I’d climbed pretty quick up to there. The other guys took off a little bit there. There were four guys ahead—Dimitris [Theodorokakos], Dakota [Jones], Zach [Miller], and Luis [Alberto Hernando]. I just ran my own pace along that section. I find that’s sort of the only way for me to go about these races is just to sit into my own rhythm and try not to stress if people pass you or if people are catching you. Yeah, my plan for today, just like everyone else’s plan, was to try and save some for the descent. When I got up to the top, I got a quick kick of energy. I was excited to be going down, so I just kept it rolling and tried to make sure that… My coach back in Australia said, “Make it feel like you’re always running when you’re going down, not just coasting.” So I tried to do it like that, and I picked up a few places which was really cool.
iRunFar: Awesome. We have the peanut gallery cheering.
Hose: Paul Hamilton.
iRunFar: We watched you through the first 30k or so, through Reventon, and you were the shadow to the top-four guys who were running together or pretty close to each other. You were there, a couple minutes behind them, each time we saw you before that. When did things start to change? When did you become in contention with those guys?
Hose: Quite late. The gap, if anything, just got bigger through Roque de los Muchachos [50k].
iRunFar: 50k. So 20k more you were still just playing in their shadow?
Hose: Yeah, I was a fair way back on Zach and Luis at that point. I think they really worked those climbs. I could see Dimitris and I could just in the distance see Dakota as I was about a kilometer or so from the summit. I actually went back into seventh in that part. Manuel Merillas passed me, and so did Dani [Garcia] who was just storming. Yeah, he passed me on the climb. It was a bit embarrassing; he was going so fast. Like I said before, I just tried to play it calm and not stress about it and I just kept finding my own rhythm. When I saw Dakota up at Roque [50k], I thought that maybe he was not having the best day for him. I could see Dimitris and Manuel was just ahead of me, too. I knew then that I was going to have a chance to get back into the top five. Once I hit the descent, I just started working it. I passed Manuel and Dimitris at the aid station, so that was two places. I passed Dakota a few kilometers down the descent, and then Zach right near the bottom. I didn’t expect to see him. I thought he was going with Luis. Yeah, that was it basically. Then I just groveled for the last 10k over the climb. I was in hell. It was too hot.
iRunFar: When I saw you at 62k, you had about 500 meters of descent left. You were just right behind Zach. Zach was looking a little cooked and a little dainty going downhill. You were in total hammer mode. When did you pass him and when did you kind of let thoughts of the podium start creeping into your mind?
Hose: When I passed him I thought his quads were having a little bit of trouble with the descending. Mine were okay. I knew I was getting really tired, but sort of after I went by him I thought… you never know in these races. I don’t know what’s going on behind me on the descent. Someone could just be storming it and making up minutes and I don’t know it. After I passed Zach I thought, I’ve got to gap him and then hold on and I might be good for a top three. I tried not to get too excited, and I tried just to focus on my food and water and making sure I held it together.
iRunFar: Yeah, you probably didn’t know, but there was a bit of a storm session going on behind you with third through, I believe it was, sixth place—these guys trading places and a sprint finish in there. I’m sure they were working each other to the very edge. You stayed several minutes in front of them, so you must have been feeling just about as good as they did.
Hose: Yeah, I didn’t feel bad. I felt bad because it’s an ultra. You always feel bad at the finish. But I did the climb last week a couple of times, the last climb, and the river bed which was probably worse than the climb—the sand again. I was so happy to see the back end of that on the first climb. I still felt like I was moving okay on the last climb. I got to Tazacorte and got some water and got wet again—that was the key, keeping really wet. Then I just hit the climb and grit my teeth. I figured if I ran about a third of it or ran two thirds and walked the rest, I shouldn’t get caught. That was what I went with.
iRunFar: Awesome. You have had some previous success working the trail-racing landscape in your home country. This is definitely a huge breakout on the international scale for you. I have to ask, what’s next? What do you do now that this has happened?
Hose: Hopefully it will open up a few new opportunities. I haven’t planned the back half of my year yet. I’ve done four races already. The Europeans have come from snow and haven’t raced, but I’ve already raced the Sai Kung 50k in Hong Kong. I raced another smaller-scale race in Australia which was a mountain marathon. Then I did Buffalo Stampede in Australia.
iRunFar: That was a month ago, right?
Hose: Yeah, it was a month ago. That race is a really good one for training because it’s predominately uphill, so it’s easy to recover from. Then I’ve come here and done this race as well, so it’s time for a little bit of downtime. Then, I don’t know, hopefully I’ll get over to Europe or the U.S. later in the year.
iRunFar: Okay. So do you have any particular race on your mind or do you simply wish to see what doors open now?
Hose: I was thinking of The Rut. I’ll see how that goes. I don’t know how I’d handle the altitude though, to be honest. I found I was breathing heavy up there today, and I didn’t feel like I was moving very fast.
iRunFar: At 8,000 feet?
Hose: Yeah, it wasn’t very high.
iRunFar: Gotta’ go a bit higher for The Rut.
Hose: Yeah, exactly. I thought about Sierre-Zinal, too. I think that’s a race that would probably suit my strengths a little bit. I don’t know. Who knows? There are so many these days that I’d be happy to go to any one and race.
iRunFar: Race directors, he’s looking for a race.
Hose: I’ll definitely be keeping it shorter. This is my longest race for the year. I want to develop my speed over short distance first.
iRunFar: Right on. Congratulations on your huge breakout her with third place at Transvulcania. You know, you’re a young guy on the up and up. I truly look forward to seeing what comes next and what you can do, so congratulations again.
Hose: Thank you for having me. Thanks very much.