For the third time this season, Sage Canaday (Scott Sports) stepped up to a new ultramarathon distance, this time the 100k at the Ultra Race of Champions (UROC). Despite having only one race longer than 50k (a course record at the White River 50 mile) under his belt and having focused on shorter races at times this year, Canaday beat a slew of top ultra veterans in taking second behind only Max King (post-race interview), who was also making his own 100k debut. In the following interview, find out how Sage and Max took a couple early diversions, how the pain differs between the Mount Washington Road Race (Canaday won it this year.) and finishing a 100k with a big road climb, and what ultras he’s considering racing in the future.
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Sage Canaday Post-2012 UROC 100k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Sage Canaday after his second place finish at the 2012 UROC 100k. Congratulations, Sage.
Sage Canaday: Thank you.
iRF: First 100k—how did it go?
Canaday: Oh, it’s a long race. I kept looking at my watch. When is this going to end? Things start hurting. You’ve got a long way to go. You’ve got to toughen up. It was a good experience overall.
iRF: Yeah, I talked to Max a little bit about some of the mishaps early on—going out too far at a turn-around, missing a turn after that, going maybe 4 to 8 minutes out of the way. How did that affect you? If you run a road marathon, that’s never going to happen.
Canaday: Yeah, well, the first mishap everyone kind of grouped up and we said we’d wait for everyone. It wasn’t that far. The second mishap, it was probably Max and my fault. We missed a turn and probably got distracted; it was marked. It kind of reminded me of Chuckanut because, “Man, I’ve got to run a little extra now.” I don’t think it was that far. It was a little discouraging, because we got back on the trail and we had a little gap and were in the lead and then we were behind playing catch up. I think we were 4 to 5 minutes off the lead. I knew I needed to be patient and slowly work my way back into it. You have your ups and downs and you’ve got to deal with what goes, so that’s what we did. It worked out.
iRF: It did. In terms of how your race played out, you were with Max for awhile. When did you lose contact? You were with Max when you went by Dave Riddle and Dave Mackey.
Canaday: Yeah, we went through an aid station and Riddle, Mackey, and [Jordan] McDougal were there. I think it was at 30 miles, Max starts moving on the road going out to the next aid station at 32 miles, I think. He had a minute on me going into that trail. You do a 4 mile out-and-back on a somewhat rocky trail, and I was just like, “Man, I’ve got to pace myself. Max looks really strong; he’s moving away. I’ve just got to make sure I can get to the finish line without walking.” I just couldn’t go with him. He just kept pulling away. I saw him at the turn-around on the out-and-back, and I could tell he was 4 minutes ahead of me at that point. I was like, “I’m not going to catch him unless he blows up.” He finished really strong, so he kept opening up that gap. It was a good race for him.
iRF: Did you have any low spots during the race?
Canaday: Oh, yeah, definitely. Probably around that time at that turn-around because we still had a long way to go. I was looking at my watch, and I was just worried about the last 20 miles. It would come and go because then you’d feel good. Then coming down some rocks my feet kind of hurt and I was like, “Man, I just want to get back on the road.” Then the last two miles coming up that hill was brutal.
iRF: Yeah, how was that road section?
Canaday: Brutal. I like uphills, but at that point, everything hurts, you’re exhausted, and you’re just like, “Get me to that finish line.” Once you get to the top it’s great because you know you’re really close.
iRF: How does that feel? You won Mount Washington earlier in the year where you’re pushing all out for just under an hour, whereas here you’ve run for 7.5 hours and you still have a 2 to 3-mile climb with a couple thousand feet. What are the differences there?
Canaday: It’s a lot different. Mount Washington is a 7.6-mile race. You’re not hurting as bad going into the start of the climb, whereas here it’s just like… it’s almost a different type of pain. At Mt. Washington, you’re burning yourself in the fire real quickly and the pain is over. Here it’s like you’re roasting yourself over coals for hours and hours and you just have to mentally be really tough with the suffering. It’s a sufferfest.
iRF: This was your 100k debut and Max’s, as well. You beat some really outstanding veterans of the sport. Does it have you excited for the future in running longer races?
Canaday: Yeah, definitely. I was honored to be here and the competition was top notch. It was pretty exciting for me. That race really hurt though. I couldn’t imagine running 100 miles. That just sounds horrible. Maybe eventually, but in the near future I’m going to do The North Face 50 and probably get some more 50 milers and maybe even 50ks under my belt first. 100 miles sounds so far. I’d definitely like to do this race again next year.
iRF: Would you ever consider trying for the American 100k team on the roads?
Canaday: Oh, yeah, definitely. I’d really like to… I got to represent the US at the Mountain [Running] Championships, and it’s always a blast to be able to travel and wear the US jersey and represent your country. It’s a huge honor, and I think I could hopefully be able to qualify for another team. The 100k team—that’s still a long ways.
iRF: Talking to Jorge Maravilla who has a little bit more experience in ultras than you, but not a whole lot more, he was telling me he’s had to learn is how to really push himself after hours and hours of effort, to really keep that intensity going where you want to just kind of back it down and jog through. Having such success here today, does that give you confidence heading into The North Face 50 to try to hang with that lead group?
Canaday: Oh, yeah, definitely. It’s a shorter race. That probably helps. So yeah, I do feel more confident. You learn a lot with each race. You have your ups and downs. I’d probably train a little differently. Coming from Italy four weeks ago, racing a 14k, I probably should have done more volume going into this, but I was able to get through it without bonking.
iRF: Was that going to be your plan before TNF 50?
Canaday: I’m probably going to take a little break now because I’m so beat up, but I’ll try to get my mileage back up like when I was doing marathon training.
iRF: For you what does that mean?
Canaday: Triple digits—100 to 120 miles. I’ll get in some good long runs. It’s a lot of fun. You’ve got to enjoy the training and the process and get excited for the next event.
iRF: Totally. Well, congratulations on this event and see you out in San Francisco.
Canaday: Oh, yeah. I’m excited!