Sage Canaday has already set three course records this year and may be looking to set more. On Saturday, he’ll race his first Skyrunning event, the Transvulcania Ultramarathon. In the following interview, Sage talks about his training since his win at Lake Sonoma (post-race interview), his hydration plan for a hot day, as well as who he thinks will be his strongest competitor and what it will take for Sage to win.
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Sage Canaday Pre-2013 Transvulcania Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Sage Canaday before 2013 Transvulcania. How are you doing, Sage?
Sage Canaday: Awesome. I’m really excited to be here.
iRF: It’s early in the year, but you’re crushing things. You got the course record down at Bandera, course record at Sonoma, and you had a race in between there didn’t you?
Canaday: Tarawera in New Zealand.
iRF: Tarawera, of course. Early season I’d have to say you’re the top ultrarunner in the world so far this year given the races that you’ve run and the competition.
Canaday: For what people have been racing so far… some haven’t raced.
iRF: Some have been doing skimo… How does that have you feeling coming into here?
Canaday: I like racing, so it’s part of my personality. I’ve always wanted to race more even with the marathon road racing scene. I wanted to race more and travel more. I’m used to competing all year round. In college we had cross country in the fall and then indoor track you burned it hot, and outdoor track you had to compete, too. I don’t see it as a season really ending or starting, but I’ll eventually get tired out if I have too much on my plate. I’m kind of worried about that, I guess. I’m excited because it’s a totally different type of racing. International competition is exciting. Being here is awesome.
iRF: Have you felt yourself worn out at all because there’s a difference between running 10k’s and 50 miles? Have you felt any deep fatigue from that this year or are you still kind of fresh?
Canaday: No, not so far. I’m happy that this race is actually shorter. The 100k in New Zealand was nine hours and that’s really long for me to be out there. Bandera was 100k. This one, if I’m in the seven-hour range, that sounds reasonable. There’s more vertical, so there’s that. Fatigue comes and goes with your training cycle. If anything, I’m a little worried about the turnaround after Lake Sonoma because I had to take a down week and then taper for this and I really only had a week and a half to train really hard.
iRF: What did you focus on?
Canaday: Downhill. I was focusing on downhill even before Lake Sonoma because I knew those rollers would test me. Even during the race at Sonoma on the downhill I was already thinking about this race, too. I did some pretty fast descents down Green Mountain in Boulder and Bear Peak in Boulder. I really tried to push the pace on downhill/technical which I never do and I never have done in training. I know here is going to push my limits.
iRF: Did you focus on just going downhill once fast or did you do any repeats?
Canaday: I didn’t do any repeats. I probably should have. Sometimes I’d go up pretty fast and go down pretty fast so I’d be kind of tired and used to that transition. I did probably three fast descents down Green. I did some long runs fast where I ran downhill pretty fast on Green and Bear. I’d double them up.
iRF: Like back-to-back.
Canaday: Yes, so there’d be two downhill stretches.
iRF: How much vertical roughly?
Canaday: Vertical gain or descent on that run was 5000 or 6000.
iRF: Okay, so not that much less than the total descent on the main descent here.
Canaday: Yes, but it will be tricky here with all the rocks. It’s a different surface.
iRF: Do you have a plan going into this? At Tarawera you made a break pretty early. At Lake Sonoma you were really patient.
Canaday: Yes, I kind of learned my lesson at Tarawera. I got really excited and about 15 miles in I started bombing down these downhills because I was in the lead and I wanted to open up a gap. And I did. But it was too much too soon and those downhills at mile 55 came back and bit me. So I definitely learned my lesson from that. At Lake Sonoma I just tried to run my own race and be patient and it paid off there. I’m still learning a ton from each race. Each race is so different. I’m sure the learning curve for this race will be big, too. I’ll probably try to work the uphills and then see what I can do on the downhills.
iRF: Knowing your strengths and weaknesses, for you to win, you kind of have to have the lead at Roque de Los Muchachos, right?
Canaday: For sure. Anton and Kilian and probably all the runners, even Cameron and all the European runners, are faster than me on downhill. I don’t even like flat downhill roads. Hopefully I won’t trip and fall and hurt myself. I think if you trip on these rocks, there’s going to be blood all over the volcano.
iRF: Lube things up for the people behind you.
iRF: How about the heat? Standing out in the sun right now, I’m breaking a sweat.
Canaday: Compared to Colorado, it’s a big difference. But a lot of us are coming from winter seasons. Kilian has been skiing. It snowed in Colorado last week. I like the heat generally, but this is going to be pretty extreme. I think everyone is going to be fighting dehydration. I’m definitely going to try to stay on top of that as much as I can. I’m going to carry more than I’ve ever carried in terms of hydration. I’ll have the Ultimate Direction vest pack on with two 22-ounce bottles up front that I’ll be refilling. Then I’ll be dunking my head in the bucket if there’s one at the aid stations.
iRF: You’ve traveled internationally for an ultra now with Tarawera, but there’s a bit more of a scene or more of a hubbub here. It’s a Skyrunning race and after last year it turned into almost a championship event. How are you handling that?
Canaday: I think it’s great. I’m excited. I hear about how many fans there are at the top of the mountain cheering and all the locals. The whole European Skyrunning series is new to me. I hadn’t heard of a sky race until last year I saw your coverage of this race. I was like, ‘Man, I really want to do that. That sounds awesome to have the privilege to travel to such an exotic location.‘ All the media and press around it is exciting to me. I like the marketing side of it and all the exposure. It’s great to follow.
iRF: If you had one person you think you’d be racing to the finish with tomorrow, who is it going to be?
iRF: Does that excite you?
Canaday: Oh definitely. I just hope I’m even remotely close to him at that point. I don’t even know what place I’ll be in. I think if I’m going to blow up it’s going to be before that anyway. It could be on the downhill. Hopefully I won’t get lost or fall and break a bone.
iRF: Have you practiced your uphill walking at all?
Canaday: I haven’t. I’m horrible at power hiking.
iRF: I assume at some point this week you’ve heard the stories of Dakota walking away from Andy on the final little road climb?
Canaday: Yes, that’s epic.
iRF: Different than what you’re used to on the track and road scene.
Canaday: Yes. I just think it’s more dramatic and that makes it exciting. Hopefully it won’t come down to that, but if it did it would be great.
iRF: Best of luck out there and have fun. Enjoy the course.
Canaday: Yes, I will. Thank you.