Jim Walmsley Post-2017 UTMB Interview

Jim Walmsley set the tone for much of the early going at the 2017 UTMB before finishing in fifth. In the following interview, Jim talks about how he tried to pull the other favorites along early, how the head of the race played out in great detail, what went wrong in his race, what it was like racing Xavier Thévenard towards the end, why he speaks with such confidence before races, and a whole lot more.

Check out our in-depth UTMB results article to find out what happened at UTMB 2017!

Jim Walmsley Post-UTMB Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Jim Walmsley after his fifth-place finish at the 2017 UTMB. How are you, Jim?

Jim Walmsley: Doing alright. How are you?

iRunFar: Alright. It was your best 100-mile finish!

Walmsley: Highest place, yeah. There’s a lot of positive to build off of off of this race.

iRunFar: What were some of the most positive takeaways you had?

Walmsley: Probably the most complete experience I’ve had in a 100—highs and lows, battling through that, doing a race running through the night, a mountainous 100 miler, toeing the line and putting a good foot forward with François [D’haene] and KIlian [Jornet] and getting to run with a lot of miles with those guys and getting to feel their fitness and some of their strengths in a race, and also being able to find a rebound somehow. I’m not sure where it necessarily came from but my stomach just started to settle again, and I was able to get some calories back in, and the legs quickly followed.

iRunFar: Is that the first time in a long ultra where you ride a high and then you crash at some point…

Walmsley: The only thing comparable is maybe Lake Sonoma 2015. There was a bit of a crash in that, but half the distance and not the same.

iRunFar: That’s a real positive takeaway knowing that can happen.

Walmsley: It can happen, and it’s not the end. I don’t think I was mentally treating it like it was the end, but it was just… I need to problem solve right now, and I’m not sure what the solution is, but I’m searching for it. That’s where I found myself.

iRunFar: Let’s rewind a little bit. Going into this race, it’s probably the best trail ultramarathon field ever. You’re in there. You know François, Kilian, Xavier [Thévenard]. Did you just go out and set the pace from the gun?

Walmsley: There were a couple things where I didn’t want them to be super comfortable, but at the same time, I didn’t want to run off the front per se or run through the night by myself. Running through the night by myself in front of those guys, I think, is a very bad choice, but when I was running in the front, I was running 30 meters ahead of them looking back and basically letting them set the pace, but keeping it moving and keeping it honest—not fast honest, but moving instead of relaxing and waiting for just the late mountains. All three of those guys are coming in undefeated at UTMB races. They’re all just aces when it comes to 20-hour-plus-in-the-mountains grinding. A lot of that is brand new to me. But them being right there behind me gave me a good thumbs up of “No worries; it’s fine.”

iRunFar: So you come into Les Contamines in sort of the same situation. In there you were kind of talking a little bit of strategy. What were you thinking of doing after Les Contamines? Was anything planned?

Walmsley: Fueling was good. Running was going good. Legs felt like it was going to be the day. I could feel that… you’re 20 miles in; take it all relative. If you want to move on anything, those guys are so even keeled, they’re not going to react. They’re going to be, “Okay.” But just early running and miles I was sharing with them and feeling each other running, I drew confidence off of what I was feeling and my instincts off of that. Yeah, so…

iRunFar: You come into Courmayeur, same thing. It’s now down to you, Kilian, and François.

Walmsley: I was having a little bit of blister problems. That was the first time I switched shoes because I felt a hot spot that didn’t really go away on my heel. I think the weather up in Col du Bonhomme… I think I got some mud or dirt in my shoe and didn’t really quite realize it and probably had some rubbing on the back of my heel. Essentially what might have just been a short term hot spot eventually turned into a blister. A lot of times that can be a bit of a death sentence. Immediately, I get to Courmayeur and switch socks and put on some Squirrel’s Nut Butter on my feet and go into the Hoka Speedgoats as opposed to the Mufate Speeds.

iRunFar: You head out of there. François heads out a couple minutes early.

Walmsley: Dude, he blasted the aid stations. He was just in and out, in and out of everyone. Oh, I’ve got a minute on him… a minute… I can see them right there. We’re together. I’m like, Oh, we’ll see how they go. Kilian was more on the same page. Oh, let’s have some chips and… you know, it’s kind of nice. François is just business. He didn’t change his shoes or socks the whole race. He’s just solid. He’s good.

iRunFar: He’s a machine.

Walmsley: The whole takeaway with everything was just those guys are relentless.

iRunFar: Did you guys regroup somewhere out of Courmayeur? Were the three of you running together rather than you just off the front?

Walmsley: Yeah, almost all of Col de la Seigne in Italy and the descent from Col de la Seigne to Maison Vieille, the refuge, there’s a flat part which goes to a lake. That was the part where it was flat, runnable, and I’m hot exerting extra energy per se, but those are areas I can make them a little bit more uncomfortable. I don’t really think I made those two guys very uncomfortable too much. They had solid races start to finish. Those are the parts where if I’m going to try to create an advantage for me and my strengths, those are some of the parts where I’m like, I’m going to run this. It’s all relative. So I came into Courmayeur a little ahead, but those were the flat sections. François was the first one out. I ran past him on the road feeling so good at that point. I didn’t want to make move until Switzerland, but at the same time, if I can get away and am feeling good, I’ve never raced them. I don’t know if I can do that to those guys. It didn’t happen this weekend, but I kept telling them after the race, “I want to hop in another race with you guys.”

iRunFar: It didn’t discourage you.

Walmsley: Not only that, but it was really fun to have those guys to run with. Even if one of us would get a little tired, we’d just switch pacing a little bit and switch who’s doing the pulling up the hill.

iRunFar: You’re working together.

Walmsley: Yeah, totally. The three of us were definitely separating. Their experience and how talented they are, I think, showed. I wasn’t able to hang on, but next time, maybe a little longer.

iRunFar: What were things looking like at the top of Grand Col Ferret?

Walmsley: They were fine. It was really, really cold up there when we made the top.

iRunFar: Were you all still together up there?

Walmsley: Kilian was back a little bit, so I probably worked with François a bit more than Kilian.

iRunFar: Did you sense that he was tired at all? He wasn’t just dilly-dallying?

Walmsley: No, in Courmayeur, my feeling was Kilian felt the pace more than François. François was just strong, and he didn’t have as much lagging if I tested anything. Sometimes François would go with me and Kilian would lag behind.

iRunFar: Where did things start to go south?

Walmsley: Before La Fouly I knew… well, going all the way up Grand Col Ferret I was realizing I wasn’t having a hunger to eat the sweet stuff I was carrying, and I had all sweet stuff. That was the beginning of the problems, but I was kind of recognizing it and trying to prevent such a downfall like what happened at Western States—that was two months ago. I didn’t want to start puking in this race. If that happens, it could be a really, really bad spot. I was trying to prevent things getting completely unraveled. Saving the race was more important than pushing it through La Fouly because I came through in second.

iRunFar: When did you make that decision?

Walmsley: When I let François go a little bit on that descent right before the aid station.

iRunFar: Win’s not going to happen.

Walmsley: Yeah, and then I knew Kilian was going to come through in a couple minutes, and I couldn’t react to rushing myself to go with him and compete. No one else passed me through there.

iRunFar: You stopped for 15 minutes… I’m going to regroup…

Walmsley: It was over 15 minutes. Soup was going down there. That was something going down. All I had from the top of Grand Col Ferret to Champex-Lac was that soup. So when I get to Champex-Lac, I knew I was seeing Christophe [Aubonnet] and my crew. I knew that was where I could hit a hard reset and lie down for a bit and shut my eyes. Also, Tim Tollefson came through really strong. He might have been the only one that passed me in the tent, but immediately when I left, I just felt like, Here goes another one. Here goes another one. I just felt like Just keep shuffling in survival mode.

iRunFar: You were in survival mode. You were going to go on.

Walmsley: Yeah, for me, I have a big motivation for Hardrock. Knowing that it’s a Hardrock qualifier and getting around the mountain is important. François said he was going to apply for Hardrock next year. I think he will be a monster on that course, because of how good he is at hiking. Yeah, that intrigues me more, too.

iRunFar: You were in survival mode for a while, but then something happened that’s never really happened before in a 100 for you, you could surge again.

Walmsley: Maybe that’s because it’s a longer time race. Western States is a bit shorter time, and it didn’t necessarily come back yet, or 2016 wasn’t necessarily a body/stomach/food bonk, it was more of a mental, Oh, this sucks. That’s really a bummer.

iRunFar: How did it feel to have it turn around?

Walmsley: It was awesome. The trick was watered down coke—half water and half coke. It wasn’t as bubbly and it wasn’t as sweet. It was going down, and I was getting some sugar in. Alright, that’s going down. Then, I took some peanut M&Ms and was able to wash those down—I think four. This was just like magic. For my legs to come back—because I just crippled-jogging out of Champex-Lac, so slow, feeling awful. Then, I go up the climb and managed the climb. Then, all the sudden it clicked on the descent going into Trient. From there, I started out of Trient, I’m doing good, and someone gave me an update of “There’s a couple people up ahead of you.” I’m back in competing mode. At the very end of the climb out of Trient before you start descending into Vallorcine, I saw them at the top. Then the next descent I just rolled. I went right past Pau Capel, Dylan Bowman, and Xavier Thévenard. I just rolled past them, but I’m pretty sure Xavier was sitting or something, because it sparked something when I went past him. He came into Vallorcine and just went through the aid station. Then, there’s two miles flat before you start climbing again. I’m trying to run away. If I can just get away and get them to quit chasing a little bit, maybe I can hold them off. But then he was closing incrementally on the flat, and, then, we hit the climb and he just had another gear on the last climb. The guy knows the mountains here. He ran really well on the climb. Then, the end—you dip down to Chamonix at the very end. We hit the streets and I’m like, This is it. This is where you see lines of Europeans, crowd going crazy. You get to celebrate with high-fives on this side and high-fives on that side. And Pau is less than 100 meters behind me. I’m parting the Red Sea. You guys have got to get out of my way. He’s going to chase me down.

iRunFar: You’re, like, pushing little kids? So it wasn’t that you didn’t want to…

Walmsley: I totally want the fun finish. I’m all about it, but if it becomes a race, it’s still a race. It’s another benchmark if you can get top five here. So to be on the fritz of fifth and sixth, that was important to me. I was running 5:40-5:45 pace through a crowd of people just splitting them. “He’s not slowing down. We’ve got to get out of the way!” I feel bad. By the time I get through the line, my legs are so shot from the effort. “You can go back out.” “I don’t think that would be a safe thing to do right now.”

iRunFar: You sat on the edge. Other people were at least standing around, but you went straight to the edge of the bleachers.

Walmsley: I just found the closest seat as possible.

iRunFar: Have you had a chance to enjoy it afterward now?

Walmsley: Yeah, it’s good. It’s fun. I think this was such a great learning experience gaining so much respect for a lot of guys I haven’t raced. It’s been a wonderful experience with so many new challenges that I at least got to experience whether sometimes I was getting beat up by them or sometimes I was doing good, it was still experiencing it. That was good. Still lots of crowds around town, but I’m looking forward to a little bit of vacation still in Europe before I go back to the States. That’s where I think I’ll get to decompress. There will be days off on Strava and running in general. I’m not having dark days on Strava. I’m not running a couple days at least, and who knows, it could be longer.

iRunFar: You might not train until you get back to the States?

Walmsley: Yeah, I don’t have a race set in stone as my next race. A lot of that is just going to be depending on how my legs feel. My legs haven’t felt this beat up after an ultra in a long time. I think it’s just how much of a pain cave I got in on this one and pushed through it. It’s a good reminder.

iRunFar: Is it possible you might not run another race this year?

Walmsley: I don’t see me not doing another race. Races keep me motivated to keep training. Small races or big races, I like racing. I’ll more than likely race again this year. September 3… beginning of September, there’s a lot of year left.

iRunFar: TNF 50 is two-and-a-half months away. Ultra-Trail Cape Town is three months away.

Walmsley: Looking at the schedule though, recovery will have to go well for North Face.

iRunFar: Because you’d have to work on speed and switch gears?

Walmsley: The speed is there. I think it would be good. There’s a lot of strength and a lot of… strength in mountain running that I’ve gained in this training block and even training blocks leading up to this training block that has been kind of game-changing in the way I’m able to handle mountains now. It’s changed from last year.

iRunFar: Is that awesome?

Walmsley: Yeah, it’s pretty sweet.

iRunFar: You spent some time in Silverton this summer, and you just mentioned that you now have a Hardrock qualifer. I assume you’ll put your name in for that one? What intrigues you about it?

Walmsley: Well, it scares me, because Zach Miller got in a pickle this year and Tim Tollefson, too, because the first American male at UTMB… I took fifth. I got beat up a bit at this race. I still left on a big positive note. It was still a great experience. But, you start with goal number one—an American male hasn’t won at UTMB. I think I’ve even told some people that I’d keep signing up for UTMB until whether I do it or someone else does it. Tim Tollefson is two-for-two at UTMB. He hits that Swiss border and just starts rolling. That’s how you race it. He’s done amazing. Dylan Bowman, Zach Miller had another solid top-10 performance. Then, there are plenty of other Americans that could do very well out here. I think it’s fun having also the American vs. European challenge mentality. I called it before the race that the Americans would outnumber the Europeans in the top 10, and we lost this year.

iRunFar: Only four.

Walmsley: Only four, so I guess the challenge would be to have more Americans to come out and join the party.

iRunFar: You would have lost with cross country scoring, as well.

Walmsley: Country-wise though we were the best. Spain had three in the top. I was doing the cross country scoring and we beat Spain, and we beat France because France’s third guy was 14th or 15th. So we did alright.

iRunFar: We did alright.

Walmsley: We’re holding our own, but we haven’t won on the men’s side yet. We have the women’s example to look forward to. Rory Bosio crushed it. We can do it.

iRunFar: You’re intrigued about Hardrock.

Walmsley: I have too much on my plate.

iRunFar: You want to come back to UTMB it sounds like. I don’t think you’ve learned how to get that Western States thing out of your system.

Walmsley: I’ve said so far as far as Western States that I’m going to keep swinging until I hit it.

iRunFar: That will be a busy summer. I know it’s out there next year, but…

Walmsley: Yeah, I have no idea. I’ll be out at Hardrock again next year, because that was just phenomenal training for this race. I enjoyed my specific training for UTMB out at Hardrock possibly more than getting out on the course out here. I like that high elevation.

iRunFar: Do you think you can train as hard there? It’s more intensity to be down low here.

Walmsley: No, I don’t think you need to. I think high heart rate and low intensity there. The way I adapted into Kendall Mountain and Speedgoat was super confidence inspiring. I’ve been literally logging 13-minute miles every day on Kendall Mountain and rolling 4:35s down the descent. Or Speedgoat, this is a pretty good tune-up effort, and it went great and comparatively Tim Tollefson was in that race. It’s still a mountain race. It’s only a 50k, but you get a little taste. It went well although Tim Tollefson ultimately won the ultimate duel because he still got me here. Here is where you to perform. Speedgoat is a fun race, but UTMB is a bigger—sorry, Karl Meltzer—UTMB is a bigger prize than Speedgoat.

iRunFar: I think Karl would probably agree with that. You are wearing his shoes right now.

Walmsley: I am wearing his shoes.

iRunFar: Well, congratulations, Jim. You ran a solid race.

Walmsley: Thanks, Bryon. Appreciate it.

Bonus Question

iRunFar: Bonus question. Before races you speak with a lot of confidence, and some would say arrogance, but explain where that kind of comes from.

Walmsley: I think it’s a mental approach. It’s a psychological thing. That’s where I get my confidence to go try to do what I want in a race. Generally, that’s to try to win it and try to compete up front, try to go for a course record or something like that. I say this, too, even in the pre-race stuff. I want to start with the big goals first and trickle down. Even when I saw you in La Fouly it was, “I’ve got to let competing for the win go, but there are a lot of goals to be had. I can accomplish a heck of a lot of them still.” And I did. The only thing is if I could have somehow have moved back up on the podium… I think I was 18 minutes off Tim in the end. Tim ran too strong. It was great. I think I’m a nice guy. I don’t think I’m necessarily arrogant too bad. I think you need that mentality. I also tell people that you need to lie to yourself in any way you can or need to in order to trick yourself into thinking that you’re that good or this or that or that strong.

iRunFar: So it’s for yourself. It’s your own mental prep.

Walmsley: Yeah, it’s a total psychological trick for me and for competitors and for everybody.

iRunFar: You go in with those B, C, D goals.

Walmsley: Yeah, and after a race like this, it’s so much admiration and respect. François is the real deal. Kilian is the real deal. For Tim to execute again like that… and how strong Xavier was… and not even guys in front of me. Pau trying to run me… I keep seeing him. I will never forget that. Seeing Dylan Bowman out there—no matter at what point, he’s just the nicest guy out there. There’s so much admiration for what everybody is doing out there. We all love doing it. We all respect the training and the work that goes into it. It’s not meant to be disrespectful or piss anyone off. It is what it is.

iRunFar: Thank you, Jim.

There are 58 comments

  1. Tyler

    Had fun watching Jim race UTMB and following along with the Irunfar coverage. I cant wait to watch this guy piece it all together for these 100 milers, big things to come for sure.

  2. Stefan

    Haven’t been a big fan up till now of Jim but after his gutsy performance at UTMB and this somewhat humble interview I have a lot more respect for him now. I quite enjoyed this interview! He seemed a lot more likeable.

    That being said he’ll have to learn how to figure these 100 miles races out before too much longer. As much as he’s portrayed as the new kid on the scene he’s really not as young as I thought. I think he’ll be 29 by the time next years UTMB rolls around. I think Kilian won his first UTMB at around 20 years old and D’haene has already won the event twice.

  3. Brock

    I don’t expect people to agree with me, but I think most people could run a 100-miler if they wanted to. But I also think that most people don’t want to run a 100-miler, or do what’s necessary to do so. To me it seems that Jim really, really wants to master the 100-mile distance, so I believe in him. While I admit I’m a “fan” of Jim, I tend to like most elite ultra runners (there’s one that I don’t like because of the PATHETIC follow/defollow scheme on Strava to boost perception of popularity). So I support runners because I like them, not because they win or run fast. But when it comes to UTMB (american males), that stuff is completely out of the window. Guys, just nail that ******* win!

    http://www.rundamentalists.com/blog/2016/12/17/ultramarathon-legend-karl-speedgoat-meltzer-shares-his-mental-toughness-tips

    1. John Vanderpot

      “Most people” meaning most ultrarunners? I think there were something like 6,129 100M finishes last year, UR Mag. runs the numbers, but that’s gross, so if you did 2 you were counted twice, etc. — there’s over 330 million of us in the U.S. alone, not even a million (far less than 1% of the nation’s population) run a street mary…?

      Most people don’t care to walk up stairs and at my gym they’ll circle the parking lot waiting for a spot closer to the entrance to open up, and that’s them on their workout day —

      JV

      1. Nathan

        I actually agree with Brock. Take an easy 100 with a 36 hour cutoff and most people could walk 90% of the race.

        Almost no one wants to do a 100 so very few ever do.

        1. Markus

          There are no easy 100 miler with 36 hours cut off.
          There might be a few who can walk a 100 miler but “most people” no way. Even most Marathon runners would not finish a 100 miler. It is a lot more difficult that you think.

    2. Francois

      Most people are exhausted after walking just 27k each day for 1 to 10 weeks. Or so said the quarter milion pilgrims of all age and ritness level on the Santiago trail in Spain in 2016.

  4. Markus

    Why is it, that people can’t think clearly when it comes to Jim Walmsley?

    He was 70 minutes behind at the finish at UMBT. He couldn’t keep up with the big boys when he had too.
    Jim thinks he can crush all these 100 mile course records but he is wrong. The UMBT was a good example. He doesn’t know yet how to pace and take care of himself during a long 100 miler. That is a quite different story than a 50 miler which is done in 5-8 hours. Jim got stomach issues and a blister. Well, I hate to break the news, that is just business as usual in a long race. If you can’t deal with that you don’t deserve to win.

    At the end it was great that Jim finished the race in a very respectable 5th place. But he destroys his success with his BS talk which at least some of us think is arrogant.

    1. Nathan

      Did you actually listen to the special bonus question and his answer? He doesn’t “destroy his success” with his talk, he creates his success with the mental mindset he puts himself in with his talk.

      To be honest, I do the same thing, just no one ever bothers to interview me to see how arrogant I sound. :(

  5. Roggie Britton

    Markus you hit the nail on the head. He does not deserve the hype and I hate the way the sport is going if it just going to be about YouTube personalities chasing exposure/shoe contracts. Some of these guys ran 1 decent flat ultra and quit their jobs to spout like they are Kouros and Jesus rolled into one. A good runner sure he is…A great runner…..a long way off. To be fair to Jim he seemed a little humbled this time.

    1. AJW

      Well, for the record, this is not the first time a wunderkind American has gained the spotlight due to personality and image. In fact, I can think of one particularly popular athlete who has made a healthy living on image and personality after his brief and successful ultrarunning career came to an end. Let’s face it, the trail running mountain marketplace likes iconic imagery and Jim and others do a great job of capturing the public’s imagination in spite of actual circumstances. Keep in mind, that it was only after Jim lost his first big race that he found himself being swooned over by shoe companies and mountain junkie wannabees. As for me, I really like the guy and think he’s great for the sport. One of these days he’s going to get it right in a 100 mile race, I don’t doubt that!

    2. Ling

      Course records at Lake Sonoma 50, Tarawera 100k, Speedgoat 50k, JFK 50 Miler, Bandera 100k, FTK for Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim and Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim. I think that qualifies as a “great runner”.

    3. Mark

      Are we so obsessed with the 100 mile distance that we can forgot Jim’s other wins over the last two years at shorter distances? He won more than a dozen races and crushed course records on nearly every one. He’s a fantastic runner who hasn’t yet solved stomach problems on the two 100 mile courses he has attempted.

    4. Ben

      Jim was pretty humble in his interview after WS in 2016 as well. It didn’t last very long then either.

      It’s OK though, and AJW is right, people are attracted to personalities and sensationalism these days. Just look at simple metrics like the number of comments on this article. This interview / article has 20+ comments so far. The interview is twice as long (or more) than nearly all the other post UTMB interviews (recognizing Jim’s responses had a lot to do with the back and forth nature / length of the interview). Tim’s interview has three comments, Clare’s has zero, and Hayden’s has two. It’s the unfortunate reality we live in today.

      I wish everyone would continue to throw their support towards the hard-working, humble, respectful, nice, and socially inclusive elites on the trails we get to interact with. However, everyone is certainly entitled to their opinions and should find inspiration in any way that connects with them. ‘Nice’ and ‘hard-working’ isn’t always exciting – I get it. Some people connect with Jim’s personality and appreciate his ‘confidence’, some don’t.

      1. ha!

        Ben – I agree that some runners get more / less attention than others but comment count probably isn’t the best metric for that. The total view counts for the videos on the irunfar youtube channel are much closer, tim is ~ 6.5k, Kilian ~ 10k, Jim ~ 14k (as of noon on tuesday)

  6. Emerson Thoreau

    Solid interview. A few of us thought Jim was trying to jump the shark there with some of his antics. But this interview brings out a pretty cool dude in search of getting it right; I hope he does.

  7. Markus

    Jim’s accomplishments over 50 miles are well known. His 3 time win and course record of the JFK 50 is exceptional. That’s not the point.

    His is a very good ultrarunner but so far his mouth is a little ahead of his 100 mile accomplishments. And THAT’s what people are talking about.

    Just look at Tim Tollefson also a good marathoner gone ultra. 2 x 100 miles , 2x 3rd place at UMTB.

  8. AJW

    One more thing (and I hope Bryon doesn’t mind me saying this) irunfar faced tremendous criticism after 2017 WS for not interviewing Jim as there were some who felt his “story should be told.” Bryon responded saying he could easily interview Jim and go “trolling for clicks” but that’s not what irunfar does. Scroll through their last decade of interviews and see if they ever interview droppers. In this case, obviously there’s a story but it does remind me of the time Anton got 4th at Leadville and got interviewed while Zeke Tiernan beat him and didn’t. Not Bryon’s intent at all to snub Zeke rather the story was clearly Anton. And so it goes….

    1. Alex

      It’s a difficult balance to strike, for sure. By covering Runner X, are you setting the agenda, and driving interest? Or is that interest organic, and you’re just providing content that people want? It’s both, of course, to varying degrees depending on the unique circumstance.

      Still, I’ll always remember–even years and years later–a quote from a professor, on sports writing: “That a game happened isn’t a story; you have to find the stories in the game.” And all good stories need compelling characters. Anton was, and Jim is. We still talk about Icarus, y’know? There’s a certain appeal to those who fly that close to the sun, and it certainly didn’t hurt that Anton was a really good writer, back when every runner had their own blog. That said, who won–or nearly did–is also compelling. It is, after all, why they play, or why a race is a race, and not a fat ass.

      Anyway, there’s a reason every journalism school talks about this, and every news room debates it: There’s no clean answer. Other than that the owner of the site will ultimately do what he wants, of course ;)

  9. Alfredo

    “Saving the race was more important than pushing it…” THE MAN IS LEARNING! I’m glad Jim seemed somewhat humbled and that he was able to persevere to a 5th place finish at a very competitive race. He said a lot of cool things in this interview, including being very complimentary of his competition. I’m looking forward to seeing more from this guy.

    1. Alfredo

      BUT…..if I were his coach I’d be concerned about his racing plans. IMO, it would serve him well to take TNF out of the picture, rest up and take an off season, and then gear up in 2018 and pick a few goal races to crush. I think that considering WS 100, HR and UTMB all in one season, along with shorter ultras, would be a mistake. But we’ll see!

  10. Stephen patterson

    Thanks Bryon, the interview is wonderful. Several of the comments here are unfortunate though, disrespectful and unwarranted. Seriously, 70 minutes behind the greatest trail runners of our time, at the UTMB, is really pretty damn impressive! Oh, and who is the athlete that AJW is referring to, regarding their short running career? I would like to know?

  11. Sebas B

    He gained a lot of respect with me with this UTMB. I really liked to see him carrying on after his bonk between La Fouly and Champex and fighting for a 5th place till the finish line as if it were for the win. He sounds much humbler in this interview too, which makes sense : he seems to have realized that in a mountain 100 miler a pace that seems “slow” in the beginning (St Gervais !) can become “relentless” after 100k (La Fouly…).

  12. Nelson

    This is the first time since he started doing well at ultras that he’s faced runners stronger than him. It’s probably going to be a really good experience to build upon, and 5th at UTMB is no small feat, this year even more. Kudos to Jim for managing to slow down and recover before he dug himself too deep like he did at Western States, and for finishing strong.

    I don’t know if Kilian felt the pace or not. He reported issues between 80-120 kms, but didn’t specify what was the problem. After that, he more or less was matching François’s pace.

    Too bad Luis Alberto Hernando wasn’t at this race. Another runner who knows what it’s like to beat Kilian and best his CRs.

    Now that he’s experienced what it’s like to run through the night, someone please convince Walmsley to run Spartathlon and go after Scott Jurek’s time there — beating Kouros’ CR may be too much to ask of mere humans. I’d love to see Jim there, and at Leadville too. For some reason, Hardrock doesn’t excite me as much.

    1. Stephen patterson

      Scott Jureks time a Sparthlon, let alone Yannis’s time, is too much to ask for almost anyone, but some day Jim Wamsley, or someone else will do it.! Spartthalon is a whole different kind of race, a 246km race and terrain that seemed to suite Scott’s talents perfectly. It took out Mike Morton, who beat Scotts times at Badwatera and the American 24 hour….not so easily predicted!

        1. Nelson

          AJ, when that CR was set didn’t the race take place at a different time of the year, with cooler weather? I think I’ve heard this recently in some podcast…

          1. AJW

            Yes, it was in October in 1989. Still, no runner has come within an hour of the record and the course then was approx 103 miles. Regardless with all the talk about “the sport has changed” this 28 year old course record is clearly an outlier.

            1. Markus

              I don’t think that the old course record was an outlier. There were a lot of strong ultrarunners back then.

              This is probably the thing which annoys me the most with Jim Walmsley’s talk about bringing speed to ultrarunning. Ultrarunning used to be a lot faster.

        2. Faber

          More hype… sincerely… it’s getting boring.
          All this stuff is only good for sponsors and fanboys.
          It should win his first 100 before running for CRs and hitting the wall every time.

      1. Markus

        I can’t imagine that Walmsley will ever do a 24 hour race or the Spartathlon. He is not that kind of a runner. Jim will be great at 50 milers but not so much at 100 milers. What he does not understand is that speed alone does not matter in longer ultras at all.

        1. AJW

          It’s an outlier in my view because it’s lasted 28 years. You are quite right, there was quite a bit of speed and grit in our sport back in the day. Just ask Jim Howard, Ann Trason, and Jim O’Brien

  13. Nelson

    I’ve listened to an interview with Kilian where he was asked about Jim’s early strategy of pulling away a bit and then waiting in the aid stations. Kilian said Jim was pulling away in the downhills, going hard at them from the beginning, but that he chose instead to be conservative in the first downhills to save his legs for later in the race, but that both strategies are valid and it’s a matter of choice.

    About the issues that slowed him mid-race, Kilian said he had some blisters and also probably wasn’t eating enough for a while.

  14. Fer

    What if Jim would had run all the way alone…. those stops at the aid stations waiting for Kilian and François, not sure if those help him a lot, it somehow slow his natural dynamic, perhaps next year he can set a different strategy

    1. Markus

      I think these short waits showed how insecure he was. Jim was faster on the downhills and should have used that to build up a tiny cushion. He basically didn’t run his own race. But maybe that was the smart thing for him to do. Seeing what the big boys are doing can be very valuable for the future. Decision making, when to change clothes, put that rain jacket on, what and when to eat, that is all a learning curve.

      1. Fer

        Yeah! Very valuable experience, now he knows the course and what to expect, he could definitely win UTMB, and in order to do that he needs to set his priorities for next season, WS, HR and UTMB in the same years seems insane!!!

    2. Nelson

      If he had run alone, which in this case means faster, he would have crashed sooner and likely harder. Both Killian and Francois could easily match his pace in those few early hours of the race, but both knew better.

  15. Stephen patterson

    In response to Markus, Jim just came in 5th in arguably the most competitive 100 miler in the world, and unfortunately took a wrong turn at 2016 Western States ahead of record time… “not so good at 100 miles”..you’re joking of course!

      1. Stephen patterson

        Hah nice try!

        Haha….Well, in the world of commenting one hears a lot of entertaining nonsense, perhaps you you can share the link to your source of information?

      2. AJW

        So he bonked and then missed the turn into Quarry Road intentionally? Is that what you are suggesting? With all due respect, while it is a turn you need to look out for I would be very surprised if this is actually what happened.

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