Timothy Olson finished fourth at last year’s Transvulcania Ultramarathon, and he’s back in the hunt for a podium spot in 2014. In this interview, Timothy talks about how he prepared specifically for Transvulcania, what the Transvulcania course is like, and how this year’s race might play out.
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Timothy Olson Pre-2014 Transvulcania Ultramarathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Timothy Olson before the 2014 Transvulcania Ultramarathon. How are you doing, Timothy?
Timothy Olson: Well, man. Good to see you again.
iRunFar: Nice. Last time I saw you was less than 100 miles from here.
Olson: Just a hop over, yeah.
iRunFar: Lot of time in the Canary Islands this year, eh?
Olson: Yeah, apparently I like this spot. The Canary Islands are wonderful. The atmosphere and the energy are just great. The people here are amazing. It’s fun to come to an island where everyone is so excited and just amped and ready to go for it.
iRunFar: We just walked 100 meters from the beach and you had to run the gauntlet—not run the gauntlet because you were kind enough to take lots of photos, but… it’s a different experience isn’t it.
Olson: A little bit different than the U.S., I would say, but it’s good. It’s a good experience. Like I said, the people here are just so loving. It’s fun to meet so many different people. Having kids take photos with you and stuff—it’s good.
iRunFar: You’re here for almost three weeks total?
Olson: Yeah, we came here about a week before hand and did a little bit of running, I mean, running every day, but I did a couple bigger runs. Then otherwise we’ve just been kind of chilling, a lot of time at the beach. We’re, like, a 100 meters from the beach, so we’ve been playing there every day.
iRunFar: If you had a golf club, you could hit a ball.
Olson: Yeah, I could take it right up.
iRunFar: A couple months ago at Sean O’Brien 50 you just went and did a training race. Then a month later, at Transgrancanaria you were in pretty good form—third place there. How are you feeling now fitness-wise?
Olson: Fitness-wise, great. This year it’s been… I normally… I missed Lake Sonoma this year which was a bummer because I love that race. It was kind of the plan going in that I’m doing some really competitive races with some amazing athletes and I wanted to come into each of those as healthy as possible—so a little bit less racing and trying to just get that consistent training. I think with ultras, if you can just have that every day getting out there running and feeling strong, that’s a huge benefit. I haven’t had any injuries. I bounced back pretty well from Transgrancanaria. Just took a little time off to let the body settle, then just been running in SoCal for the last few months and putting up some decent miles and lots of vertical gain and feeling good with that.
iRunFar: Driving over here I was noticing some of the mountains and the layout next to the ocean, it really reminded me of SoCal.
Olson: Yeah, totally. That’s why I was excited to come to live there and train and then come here because it’s pretty much similar. Lots of vertical gain right out my back door and it’s hot. So I think I’m well-adjusted to the heat which is a benefit for me towards the later stages of the races because I think it’s going to be a pretty hot one.
iRunFar: You were fourth here last year. What do you think you have to do to improve that place?
Olson: I think what I did with just coming in with a little more consistent training. Last year I was a little banged up at Sonoma. So the weeks between Sonoma and this race, I didn’t really run at all. So I came in… I eventually got healed up beforehand, but I didn’t have that training, where this, I’ve been running the whole time. That just feels a little bit more confident going into the race that everything is where it should be. SoCal’s training has been amazing. It’s not as technical as this is, but… sun’s bright, don’t want to burn that off, eh? SoCal with just all the vertical I’ve been doing there has really prepared me for this race and the rest of my season with running as I hope to do some 100’s with a lot of climbing.
iRunFar: So you’re building that climbing base and your fitness. What are the secrets to running well at this race? Having talked to a lot of people and seen the race a couple years now, it’s a race that if you know the course, it seems like it’s a big benefit.
Olson: Yeah, I think I definitely came in here last year and I had no clue. I saw a little bit of the race, but it was also kind of when I started running more European races, and it’s just really technical. Not extremely technical, but this descent down here at the end, you really have to watch your step. It’s a really big drop. You’re dropping 9,200 feet in not very much, less than 20k. So you’ve got to come down fast. Hopefully I’ll be running with some of the top guys. They’re amazing downhill runners—Kilian [Jornet], Dakota [Jones], Luis [Alberto Hernando] are amazing runners. If I can be anywhere close to them, that would be great. Otherwise, I’m just going to try to give it my all out there. I’m not really holding back this race, so I’ll give it a good push and kind of just see where it goes. It starts with a huge climb, so I like that. I’m excited for that. I’ll kind of see where my fitness goes and then see how hard they push it. I’m not one to go off the front. I won’t lead the race by any means. Hopefully I can keep them within eyesight or within a few minutes.
iRunFar: Anybody you think might go off the front in the early going?
Olson: No, I guess I don’t know all the runners out there. I think the few that I mentioned before will be some really strong runners. Sage [Canaday] is a really strong runner as well. There are so many others. The guy that won UTMB—Xavier?
iRunFar: Xavier Thevenard.
Olson: Yes. Amazing guy as well. There are so many that I don’t even know. So there might be some that take off…
iRunFar: It’s not going to phase you.
Olson: No, not at all. Last year there were a couple who jumped out fast. Cameron [Clayton] was here last year who took off hard.
iRunFar: You kind of suspected that was going to happen.
Olson: Yeah, he likes to do that. You need the people to just give it out. Sometimes… like Sonoma, what’s the guy…?
iRunFar: Zach Miller.
Olson: Zach Miller took off and everyone expected him to come back and he held on. So I love people trying to go for that. I wish I had a little more of that in me that I like just went off and went all for it. Come race day, you never know what will happen. I’m going to go out there, and I don’t have a plan. I’m just going to go hard from the beginning—not all out, but hard—and if I’m feeling a little spry, I might just really try to push it. So we’ll see.
iRunFar: Well, good luck out there.
Olson: Thanks, man.
iRunFar: Bonus question for you, Timmy. Would you rather do a Vertical K like they’re doing up or down?
Olson: Oh, that’s so easy. I go up. That’s what I do. Down, I’m still a little shaky.
iRunFar: You’re a bull, not a bear.
Olson: Yeah, for sure. Up is the way to go.