We just saw the U.S.’s Nick Clark two weekends ago racing easy and with a pack at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile to prepare himself for the rigors of this weekend’s 2014 Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji. In this interview, Nick tells us about how he prepared for both this weekend’s running and drinking, and what he learned from last summer’s four 100 milers that he’s going to put to use in future racing.
[Editor’s Note: Find out more about the full women’s and men’s fields in our UTMF race preview.]
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Nick Clark Pre-2014 Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell here of iRunFar with Nick Clark before the 2014 Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji. How’s it going, Clarkie?
Nick Clark: It’s going well. Excited to be here.
iRunFar: First trip to Japan?
Clark: First trip to Japan, yeah.
iRunFar: You’ve got that thing [pointing to Mount Fuji in background]?
Clark: Very impressive. I mean, I’m fresh off the boat. We got here to Kawaguchi[ko] or whatever it’s called about an hour and a half ago. Coming down the highway, Fuji just appears from nowhere. It’s like, good lord. So yeah, very impressive.
iRunFar: You’ve run plenty of mountains that are just as high, but the prominence of this mountain is just…
Clark: Yeah, it’s a little over 12,000 feet, but we’re at 1,000 feet here, so you’re looking at 11,000 feet of elevation gain. So that’s brilliant.
iRunFar: Well, you’re not climbing it this weekend, but you are running around it.
Clark: Running around it, yeah.
iRunFar: It’s awful early in the season for 100 miles. You think your legs are ready? Your base is there?
Clark: Yeah, it was February when I kind of decided to come out and do this. I’ve been putting in the miles and getting ready. Obviously the original plan was just to train through and to run Western States, but we’ve revised that a little bit. So I’ve been banging out some miles and some vertical. I feel good. I’ve been getting on the road a bit and covering some road miles. Obviously there’s a lot of road on this course.
iRunFar: You always kind of do that. You always maintain your speed, but this time with a little more purpose in the actual racing. It’s a more specific application I suppose.
Clark: Yeah, I haven’t really tweaked it too much. Had I really been thinking about it I probably would have done a few more 20 to 30-mile road runs at a good clip, but I just do what I do. I do a tempo and some strength intervals—one session each week. I just kind of keep on that program.
iRunFar: How’s the winter been in the Front Range? Have you been able to get some steep training in?
Clark: Well, I don’t think I’ve been hitting anything quite as steep as what we’ll apparently see on Friday and Saturday, but I’ve been getting vertical in. I actually got my 100th Horsetooth summit. Horsetooth is my local little hill that I live next to. I got that summit done the day before I left for Japan. We had a little party at the summit at 6 a.m. with some friends. We hit a few shots of sake.
iRunFar: Did you?
iRunFar: Getting in the spirit?
Clark: Getting in the spirit. Getting the karma flowing. So I’m going from my local mountain to Japan’s mountain. So I’m excited about it.
iRunFar: Having a sake on both sides?
Clark: Having a sake on both sides. Yeah, I haven’t had a sake yet, but I will do…
iRunFar: Maybe this evening?
Clark: Ahhh, maybe this evening. I’ll probably have sake this evening, but I’ll probably pound a few sakes Saturday, Sunday, I’m sure.
iRunFar: You have a lot of experience with 100-mile races, but especially last summer where you had the real focus time with four in less than three months. Any lessons from that that you sort of, having had time to think about it, you’ll be bringing into this race?
Clark: The big lesson from last summer was that I kind of learned how to run 100’s even though I’ve been doing it for awhile. The lesson is to obviously to run the race that you’re going to run that gets you to the finish line as quickly as possible. For the 100-mile distance, what I learned last summer was to really kind of be conservative. That’s no secret, but it’s hard to apply in practice. Hopefully I can be fairly conservative through the first 100k. The way the course runs, the actions starts after 100k. So we’ll see. It’s a lot of fast running for the first 100k, so I’ll probably get carried away.
iRunFar: It’s a little easier at a race like Vermont or Leadville or Wasatch to maybe not get carried away early. Here you’re going to have a stable full of studs running out in front of you if you do that. How do you actually…?
Clark: I don’t know. I’ll just run with Joe [Grant] since he’s a little slower. Just kidding, Joe. Joe’s over there, by the way. I don’t know. I just go back to the ol’… you always have a game plan going into these races, but as soon as the gun goes off that goes out the window. We’ll just see how it goes.
iRunFar: Well, best of luck out there and have fun.
Clark: Thank you, Bryon.
Clark: Bonus round. Joe, c’mon, whaddya got?
Joe Grant: Bonus round. I don’t think I’ve ever beaten you in a race.
iRunFar: Joe doesn’t think he’s ever beaten Clarkie in a race.
Grant: I don’t think I’ve ever beaten you in a race. I’ve tried hard to do that. It’s never worked out. So how do I do that?
iRunFar: Joe is asking how does he beat Clark in a race?
Clark: Well, it’s going to be dark and kind of treacherous from 100k up on that ridge in the Tenshi Mountains, so maybe a little elbow off the ridge there?
Grant: Take you out?
Clark: Take me out.
Grant: Take you back to your rugby days?
Clark: Back to my rugby days. Maybe that’s the way to do it. I mean, if you’re in contact, I don’t know. [laughs]
iRunFar: So it’s going to take some physical contact.
Grant: I’ll wait for you.
iRunFar: There we have it.
Clark: No, Joe, we’re going to work as a team.
Grant: That first Hardrock… and then I went and got lost.
Clark: Oh yeah, that’s right.
Grant: Yeah, that didn’t help me.
Clark: I’ve beat you at the 5k and 10k distances.
Grant: 5k, 10k, marathon, Speedgoat… yeah…
Clark: Maybe this week’s the week.
iRunFar: Maybe some speed climbing? What do you got, Joe?
Clark: I feel like internationally…
iRunFar: He’s even… his beard is even like…
Grant: It’s grey is what it is.
iRunFar and Grant: [laughs]
Clark: We’ve both got pretty pathetic [beards]. No, Joe beats me on the techy stuff. We went out with [Scott] Jurek. Remember when we came down… some rockslide or something.
Grant: The Mummies. The Mummies. Yeah.
Clark: Joe was off to the races. Clarkie was being a little cautious. Jurek was being very cautious.
Grant: I think I beat you at Zegama?
Clark: I think you were asleep by the time we got down.
Grant: Maybe at Zegama?