Cameron Clayton ran races all around the world this year before coming home to race the 2013 Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) 100k in his Colorado backyard. In the following interview, Cameron talks about his summer of racing and travel, how he’s managed to train during that time, and how he thinks the men’s race at UROC could play out.
Cameron Clayton Pre-2013 UROC 100k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Cameron Clayton before the 2013 UROC 100k. How are you doing?
Cameron Clayton: I’m doing well. How are you?
iRF: Alright. It’s been awhile since we chatted. Western States, I think? You’ve had a lot of races since then. Where have you been this summer?
Clayton: Yeah. I went to Speedgoat 50k out in Alta, Utah, and then… that’s in Alta, right?
Clayton: Snowbird—I always get those two confused. Sorry, Karl [Meltzer]. That was beautiful. I had a race there. Then a couple weeks later I went out to Pikes Peak [Marathon], and then the Matterhorn, TransAlpine, and now I’m here.
iRF: That’s a lot of racing. You had eight days at TransAlpine. How are you feeling after a busy summer?
Clayton: Yeah. Busy. It was a busy summer. I feel good. My training has been really great. I’m a little tired. I raced a little more than I thought I would this year, but I got to travel more than I thought I would. Overall, I feel fantastic after all that.
iRF: How do you fit the training in between all those races?
Clayton: TransAlpine was training. It was an eight-day stage race. Running with Dimitris [Theodorakakos] was excellent. He was a very disciplined man. You went out, you ran your pace, and you never went too hard because you always had another day after that. He was brilliant to run with. I ran a little running camp up in Leadville the week before Pikes Peak, which consisted of me going up and doing a 14er or three 14ers every day. So I got in a lot of elevation and about 130 miles that week. It was a big week. Then I went into Pikes Peak and then followed that six days later with Ultraks. All of it was training because you couldn’t quite push too hard on any given day, because if you did you were done. You were spent. It kind of showed in Ultraks. I was a little spent for Ultraks. It was kind of a disaster of a race, but I survived and I was happy because of that.
iRF: So you’ve certainly gotten the mountain time in. You’ve been up high. You’ve done the climbing. There’s tons of climbing at TransAlpine. It’s all climbing.
Clayton: Yeah, it’s 15,000 meters/51,000 feet in eight days. That’s the biggest week of my life.
iRF: So, there’s not necessarily flatter running but faster running on this course—non-technical trails, fire roads, bike path. Have you done any training specifically for that?
Clayton: Yeah, last week especially because Boulder flooded with a huge flood—a 50-year flood or a 500-year flood depending on who you talk to. All of our trails were closed down which angered every trail runner in Boulder, of course. I was forced to go on roads. So the last 10 days have all been road training, and surprisingly six-minutes-per-mile pace has been easy to clip off. So this shouldn’t be a problem for me on the Vail Pass. I can’t imagine anybody needs to go any faster than that.
iRF: On the travel front, you’ve gotten an opportunity to go to a lot of races and you’re soaking it up. What have been some of the highlights of your whole year?
Clayton: Oh, the year? We’d have to go back to La Palma for that because La Palma was an incredible experience out at Transvulcania. That was my first real Skyrunning ultra. It was fun. There was a great atmosphere. The island comes out for it. Then if you speed forward to my last race, the TransAlpine, you’re surrounded by 700 people all doing the race every day who are so enthusiastic about it. They know about you by the time the race is finished, for sure, because there are these little ceremonies every day. You really go through Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and into Italy. I can say I’ve been all there. Really going into Austria or places that want to be part of Austria, you get a little bit of different cultures every day which is really cool. The Matterhorn is truly iconic.
iRF: What’s special about the Matterhorn? I’ve never seen it.
Clayton: It’s like a mountain that has a giant rock on top of it. That rock is 3,000 to 4,000 feet, and it just stands out at you. You just look up and you’re… ohhhhhhhhhhh.
Clayton: It’s majestic. You want to go up it. You want to go play on it. Playing in the shadow was good enough this year, but it makes you want to go back.
iRF: Whet your appetite?
Clayton: Yeah, it’s just astounding. You get there and you could just stare at it for an hour trying to trace all the little crags going up it.
iRF: After all this travel around the world, you’re back home in Colorado. You’ve run all these trails around here. Aspens are changing. Are you excited?
Clayton: Yeah. Really excited. Kilian[ Jornet]’s here. Sage [Canaday]. We have our friend Matthew [Flaherty] over here. A host of other men—Rob [Krar]; Dakota [Jones] is really fit. It’s my favorite kind of running which is fast, on non-technical trail, and you’re weaving your way through changing aspens. And there’s a host of good competition to run against, so you’ll never be lonely… hopefully.
iRF: It’s mostly non-technical, but there are some steeper parts; there’s some pavement; there’s a variety of terrain and challenges here. Also up at the front of the pack, there is a variety in skill sets. Do you think there’s going to be a group running together the whole way or is it going to be people using their strengths specifically?
Clayton: Yeah, I think there will be a front runner. I’m not sure who it will be. If I had to place odds, it would be Dakota, myself, or Sage. I think there will be a chase pack of two or three, and another chase pack of four to six people probably spread out by a couple minutes. I think whoever has a great day and goes out for it might be the winner or whoever is just a brilliant technician and plays his race perfectly. It’s 100k. I’ve never done one, so I can’t quite predict how it’s going to play out over those last 12 miles.
iRF: Another interesting aspect is that it’s the Skyrunning finale. You’re certainly going to make a play for that, right?
Clayton: Yeah, I think I’m third right now? Or I will be?
iRF: François [D’Haene] is.
Clayton: François is in third, but he’s not here so I can take advantage of that. Let’s see, we have a fun dynamic between Sage and Kilian. Kilian has to be one place behind Sage to win the overall series.
iRF: If Sage wins overall [at UROC].
Clayton: If Sage wins overall, Kilian has to be second. If Kilian is third, then Sage can make the upset which would be huge in kind of like a… really… it would just be huge. So that will be fun. Sage, I think, will go… he has a little more incentive than others for that.
iRF: He might be a little more aggressive in that regard.
Clayton: Maybe. I think he will be.
iRF: You just have to finish in a solid placing to move past François because he’s not here.
Clayton: Yeah, exactly. It takes a little pressure, but, of course, I also want to win, so it doesn’t really change too much of the outcome. So we’ll probably go out and if I’m feeling great then I’m going to go for it. If I’m feeling a little hesitant, then I’ll try and play it a little smarter.
iRF: Best of luck out there this weekend.
Clayton: Thank you very much.
iRF: A bonus question for you. Out on La Palma, you and François were having some fun talking some smack.
Clayton: We always talk smack because the only two times we’ve raced we’ve finished within 28 seconds and, now, four seconds of each other. I’m always kicking him down. We have this great relationship where we just talk smack to each other and play around. It makes it way more fun.
iRF: Talk any smack to François?
Clayton: Ah, you should have been here, man. I’m going to take it away from you. So, uh, You’re welcome.