Cameron Clayton is a beer connoisseur. Oh wait, this is an interview about running and the 2013 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships? Okay. In the following interview, Cameron talks about his race to third place here last year, how racing dynamics could play out this weekend, and whether a late-fall bout with the flu will impinge upon his own racing plans.
[Editor’s Note: For more information, we’ve published a full men’s race preview with links to other pre-race interviews.]
Cameron Clayton Pre-2013 TNF EC 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Cameron Clayton before The North Face Endurance Challenge 2013. Are you ready to roll?
Cameron Clayton: Getting there. I’m still recovering from the flu that I had a week ago, but I’m here. I’m not just here to go enjoy the course. Well, I am here to go and enjoy the course, BUT…
iRunFar: BUT… You surprised a lot of people last year and finished third. You had obviously won Run Rabbit Run 50 before that.
Clayton: Finishing third was a great surprise after I was about ready to drop out at mile 37. I thought I was in sixthat that point because we had that front group that had gone out and I didn’t realize they’d gotten off course or anything. I was like, “Ohhh, Dad, my calves, I think I’ve already torn one. My other one’s about to go.” Dad’s like, “So you’re in third and secondis about 30 seconds ahead of you.” This was the point when Adam Campbell was still in second. I was like, “Ohhhhh…” Of course you’re going to go. It was a great race. Now I’m back. It’s the only race I’ve ever repeated actually.
iRunFar: So, 13 miles to go, you pass Adam after that. That means François d’Haene passed you in the last half marathon?
Clayton: Not even—last 3.5 miles. He caught me at the top of the last climb. He put about 20 seconds on me. He actually stopped to pee and passed me again after that.
iRunFar: He passed you twice in the last 3.5 miles?
Clayton: He passed me twice. That’s something that’s unknown. He only beat me by 28 seconds or something, but he did stop to pee before and then keep going and passed me again.
iRunFar: He took a break.
Clayton: He did, and then he was like, “Ohhh, good job!” I was like, “Oh, darn it.”
iRunFar: Then you became teammates.
Clayton: Yeah, that was really cool. Then we’re the best of friends.
iRunFar: Until Saturday.
Clayton: We’re still good friends then. We’re just those kind of friends who are willing to poke each other in the ribs.
iRunFar: They might hurt him more than usual this weekend.
iRunFar: There’s a pretty darn good field out there—you, François, and a heck of a lot of other people. Who are you going to be trying to race with up there? Is there anybody… you enjoy racing François, are there other people you’ve raced before that you’re looking forward to toeing the line with again?
Clayton: So François usually comes up out of nowhere at the end of the race. I haven’t seen François for hours, and he just bites me and sharks me, really. Racing him is fun in that aspect. It’s close. It’s a great sprint finish. He’s a pretty quick guy. He ran steeplechase when he was out in university there. I love racing Max [King]. He’s got a calm demeanor when you’re racing him, when you’re out front, and he’ll be with you for a long time. Dakota [Jones] is super energetic. This all comes down to… two weeks ago I had this tremendous long run and if I hadn’t gotten the flu, I’d come in with this 100% confidence that I’d be up there charging the front with everybody else and anyone who wanted to come with me. I don’t know if that is going to be my race strategy now. It’s going to come down to how I’m feeling on race day.
iRunFar: So, on race day, are you going to go out as hard as you would have pre-sickness or are you just going to just go out for the first 10 miles and then see how you feel and react from there?
Clayton: I’ll make the call on race day. If I’m feeling 100% healthy again, I’m not going to be as 100% fit as I’d want to be, but if I’m healthy and it feels great to go out there and push from the start, I’ll try and lead it, to Greg [Vollet’s] dismay.
iRunFar: How are they going to rabbit you if you’re leading?
Clayton: Exactly. If I feel kind of crappy kind of like I did at UROC, I’ll try to play things smart and hope for the best because it’s 50 miles and a lot can happen.
iRunFar: That’s a big change. Last year was your second ultra, if I remember correctly (at TNF 50 2012), and you’ve had a bunch more experience. How has your mindset changed? What have been the major lessons you’ve learned this past year, racing-wise?
Clayton: I’m a lot more calm about the whole ordeal. I think this is the 13th time I’ve raced this year really since April—so it’s about every three weeks that I’ve run into… whether it be a mountain marathon or an ultra or something like Transalpine. I’ve learned to play it by feel a little bit better. Last year I went off with the lead group, had a bad headlamp, couldn’t keep up, waited until Jorge [Maravilla] came by and saved my butt putting a spotlight out. I ran with them for awhile and basically gutted it out for the entire race. I had a kind of strategy I worked out with my roommate who got me into this sport. He was like, “Eat a lot. Try and last for whatever miles you can.” It worked out. This year I’ll come in with a lot more know-how and be able to play. I’ll know what I feel like at 15 miles and have a good idea what this is going to mean at mile 45.
iRunFar: A lot of learning this past year.
Clayton: Yes, I’ve had a lot of ups and a lot of downs. I’ve had some good successes and some great failures.
iRunFar: Are you ready for a break afterward, too?
iRunFar: Yeah, this will be the first time in probably 18 months that I’ve taken off more than a week of running. Hopefully, as long as nothing goes horribly or horrendously wrong out there, I take it off completely healthy which would be the first time in five years probably that I’d be taking a willing break longer than a week.
iRunFar: That’s a nice change.
Clayton: Yeah, the amount of time…
iRunFar: What are you going to do? Drink more beer?
Clayton: Drink more beer, of course, and more often. Go party. See friends that you don’t usually get to. Do a really good job on Christmas this year. I have some ideas for my family and friends that require some time in the making.
iRunFar: Speaking of family, your parents seem super supportive of your running. Are they going to be out here this weekend cheering you on?
Clayton: Yeah, they do. They fly in Friday which is always really cool. Lately, they’ve just kind of faded into the background taking pictures. If you ever read UltraRunning magazine or anything like that, my dad is one of the photographers along with my mom. I’m lucky to have them. Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad! Thank you! I guarantee you they’ll watch it. Yeah, they’ll be here. They’ll be out there Saturday taking pictures, tearing it up, and giving some good advice probably. They’ve kind of gotten to know the sport as well.
iRunFar: Like if you’re in third, keep running?
iRunFar: Best of luck out there.
Clayton: Thank you very much. Good luck to everyone else out there. It’s a stacked field. I hate to say it, as it’s said in almost every ultra race these days, but it’s the most competitive field ever assembled.
iRunFar: There you go, you heard it from Cam.
iRunFar: Bonus question for you, Cam—mustache.
Clayton: Mustache. Grew it out for Movember—you know, men’s-health awareness, and the fact that I get an excuse to grow a mustache. It’s white. It probably needs to go away at some point, but this took me a month to grow and it only takes two seconds to get rid of. I’m feeling a little tentative about shaving it. It’s not quite as awesome as yours. If it was a fiery red mustache, of course I’d keep it.
iRunFar: We could go get some Kool-Aid.
Clayton: Yeah, there we go. Get some hot pink going in there? Yeah.
Beginning at the End
Clayton: Have you been to Colorado? We make the best beer. I will make that claim and I will stick by that. In fact, we can make this whole interview about how Colorado makes the best beer.
iRunFar: Alright. What is the best beer in Colorado?
Clayton: It depends on where you’re going. If you’re going to an actual pub brew or if you’re just running to the liquor store.
Clayton: If you’re just going to the liquor store I’m going to go with… If you like an IPA probably Odell’s Myrcenary. They also make a mean double black IPA. Odell’s makes some good stuff especially if you go to their brewery; they make some great stuff. Locally, in Boulder, if I have to highlight everything, we have Avery; we have BRU; the Walnut Brewery; we have Upslope; Redstone Meadery if you’re into mead—which not too many people are into mead these days.
iRunFar: Are you?
Clayton: I am into mead. I’m going to make my own mead here during my break. It takes eight months I found out when I was really researching it a couple months ago. I was like, “During my break, I’m making mead.”
iRunFar: Just have François make it for you.
Clayton: No, he’s making wine. I’m going to make mead. You can’t infringe…
iRunFar: Don’t overlap?
Clayton: No, we need someone to make beer and the other… (wine)… oh, the fun we’re going to have. Man, if you come over, I’ll take you on a beer tour.
iRunFar: What are you doing next week?
iRunFar: Go out and have some good Colorado beer.
Clayton: Really good beer. Strong beer. Not Utah beer.
iRunFar: Not Utah beer.
Clayton: Although you can make some good bottled stuff there.
iRunFar: Epic makes some very good beers.
Clayton: They do.
iRunFar: Now they’re in Denver. I think they have a location there.
Clayton: Yes. In Denver, you’ve got the Great Divide. Have you ever tried the Yeti? It’s a stout. Rich. They make four different kinds of Yeti.
iRunFar: I have not tried the Yeti.
Clayton: They come in different bombers. Paradox—you should try some Paradox.
iRunFar: I’ve had some Paradox.
Clayton: There you go. Colorado again. Time to head on.
iRunFar: Maybe the IPA’s in California and some good, dark stuff…
Clayton: California makes great bear. Lagunitas is out there.
iRunFar: Russian River, Bear Republic.
Clayton: A little Pliney the Elder and Pliney the Younger never hurt anybody. I could probably give a better interview about beer than I could about running at this rate. Anyway, I don’t think we’re here for beer, so…