Though he has just seven months of ultrarunning under his belt, Cody Reed has shown that he has the potential for a podium finish at the 2016 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships. In our first interview with Cody, watch him talk about his history as a runner at Northern Arizona University, why he chose to go the trail running path post-college, what his first season of ultrarunning has been like, and how he expects Saturday’s competition to go down.
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Cody Reed Pre-2016 The North Face EC 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here in Mill Valley, California. It’s a couple days before the 2016 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships. I’m with Arizona’s—well, originally California’s—Cody Reed. Hi.
Cody Reed: Hi.
iRunFar: How’s it going?
Reed: It’s going good. Nice to meet you again.
iRunFar: Nice to meet you again, too. We met on the sidelines of Lake Sonoma [50 Mile] where you were crewing your friend…
Reed: …Jim Walmsley, yeah.
iRunFar: Now you’re here racing yourself.
iRunFar: Since I met you earlier this year, you’ve gone on to race a couple of ultras.
Reed: Yes. I started with Miwok 100k, and then I did the Tamalpa Headlands 50k and UROC 100k.
iRunFar: Kind of a full-blown dive deep into ultrarunning in about six months’ time.
Reed: Yeah, right into it. Yeah, Miwok was a hard first race to do, but I’m glad I did it. It set a precedent for ultrarunning.
iRunFar: Started really hard?
Reed: Yeah, exactly.
iRunFar: This is our first interview with you, so I’d like to back up a little bit if we can and talk about you and your background with running. You’re back into home territory. You’re a San Francisco Bay Area native.
Reed: Yes, I grew up across the Bay in Danville and went to San Ramon High…
iRunFar: San Ramon!
Reed: I started running in middle school, ran at San Ramon in high school, and then ran at Northern Arizona University.
iRunFar: Your move from California to NAU, was that a result of the recruitment process, or how did you end up down there?
Reed: Mostly because I wanted to get as far away from the Bay Area as I could.
iRunFar: “Sorry, mom.”
Reed: They did not recruit me at all. I was a walk-on to the team. I just had to; I wanted to get away.
iRunFar: Talk about your experience at NAU. They have a fairly rigorous running program. How did you walk-on and stuff?
Reed: It was not easy. I just kept showing up to practice.
iRunFar: “There’s this guy; he never goes home.”
Reed: Basically. The coach even said a couple times, “What are you doing here? If you have anything else to do, you should do that.” I came to practice the next day.
iRunFar: Persistence. They eventually accepted you as part of the team?
Reed: Yeah, I kept training and got faster and was able to travel to races and went to conferences and regionals and nationals with them.
iRunFar: How old were you when you concluded your collegiate running career?
Reed: 24 years old.
iRunFar: A year-and-a-half ago? Two years ago?
Reed: A year ago.
iRunFar: What has been going on in your life since college?
Reed: Since then, I took a break from running for awhile.
iRunFar: Really and truly a break?
iRunFar: Quit and get chubby?
Reed: No, did not get chubby. Not like that. I helped coach at a high-school cross-country and track program in Flagstaff[, Arizona]. I’ve been looking for jobs, and I realized after awhile of not running that I needed to run to stay sane pretty much. I thought I might as well run an ultra. Why not? That was about the time that Walmsley and I met more. I went out to Lake Sonoma 50 Mile with him and Tim Freriks and thought, Wow, I need to be a part of this action.
iRunFar: Is that literally going and watching a couple races is what sealed the deal?
Reed: It sealed the deal. I knew I wanted to do one. I didn’t know what to do. After that race, I was thinking about a 50-mile or 100k race. Being at the race and seeing the people and community… and they’re really positive and nice to be around… and the trails are beautiful that you get to run on.
iRunFar: Sort of the more traditional post-collegiate path is toward road running.
Reed: I know. I didn’t want to do that.
iRunFar: You were sure of that?
Reed: Too hard, yeah. To do that, road running or marathon training, I’d have to keep training 100% as hard as I could like I was doing at NAU. I’d just done that for five years, and I was done with that.
iRunFar: You were looking for a slightly more…
Reed: …Laid-back training approach.
iRunFar: You’re still down in Flagstaff where you are surrounded by men and women who are training on the trails and are still giving it 100%, right?
Reed: Yeah, there are a lot of people out there that were training for the Olympic Marathon Trials or the [Olympic] Track [and Field] Trials. There are a bunch of groups out there doing that, but there are a couple of us that are doing the ultra route as well. Most of them are… all of them except for Tim and Jim and a couple other guys are not just the post-collegiate guys. They’re a couple years older.
iRunFar: So the trail/ultra thing is sticking now? You’re three ultras in, and this is number four?
Reed: Yeah, I’m in it. I like it.
iRunFar: You’ve come to Northern California for all of your races now. Is this because of your family being here?
Reed: I know. It’s one of the reasons. Also, because I just like it here. The first race I ran, Miwok, those trails were so amazing. I just wanted to run more races out there. There are also some pretty good-sized races out here competition-wise, like the 50k that I ran. The prize money doesn’t hurt.
iRunFar: It doesn’t hurt at all, does it?
iRunFar: It will fund quite a bit of one’s ultra laid-back lifestyle, the prize money.
iRunFar: You’ve raced twice out here—the Miwok 100k and the Headlands 50k—literally on the same terrain as Saturday’s race.
Reed: Same trails.
iRunFar: This is my first time seeing you race though, so I don’t know what your strengths and weaknesses are on the trails. What are we going to be seeing from you on Saturday?
Reed: I don’t like to start out leading. All I have to go off of mostly is Jim who just takes it out and hammers 100% the whole race and runs by himself. I can’t do that. I want to be with someone for awhile and then make my move halfway through or whenever the scenario rises.
iRunFar: These trails, you kind of know their style—steep ups and downs, lots of runnable sections, and then some technical bits thrown in. What do you like to run on? What do you prefer? What are you good at?
Reed: The steep, runnable fire-road climbs, I like that. I like the runnable stuff and not the techy singletrack uphill. That last climb of the Tamalpais Headlands 50k, do you know what that section was called?
iRunFar: Unfortunately, I don’t.
Reed: That sucked. I did not like that at all. That just buried me. Yeah, the bigger, easier climbs…
iRunFar: The Tamalpa Headlands 50k served as this year’s USATF 50k Trail National Championships, so that’s the most competitive scene you’ve been a part of as a participant. You were raced to the end by a couple guys there.
Reed: David Roche finished, I think, 30 seconds behind me.
iRunFar: Breathing down your neck.
Reed: Yeah, which I had no idea he was there.
iRunFar: Are you ready for the pressure of people breathing down your neck or you breathing down someone else’s neck on Saturday?
Reed: Yes, I’m expecting it. I’m ready for it. Hopefully they feel me breathing down their necks.
iRunFar: My last question for you—what’s your podium prediction for Saturday?
Reed: For me?
iRunFar: Who are you going to call in the podium for the men’s race on Saturday?
Reed: Me, Hayden Hawks, and I don’t know. I have no idea.
iRunFar: In what order?
Reed: No comment.
iRunFar: Haha! Okay, we’ll leave it like that. Good luck, Cody. We’ll see you out there Saturday.
Reed: Thanks. See you out there.