With a wealth of experience, Sweden’s Jonas Buud heads to the Western States 100 for his first ultramarathon in the U.S. In the following interview, Jonas talks about how his training has gone since dropping out of the IAU 100k World Championships late last year, what he thinks will be his biggest challenge during the race, and what he’s thinking heading into what will be his longest race time-wise to date.
Jonas Buud Pre-2017 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Jonas Buud before the 2017 Western States 100. How are you, Jonas?
Jonas Buud: Fine, thanks.
iRunFar: Welcome to the U.S. You’ve raced the New York [City] Marathon before, but you’ve never run a trail ultramarathon here. Are you excited?
Buud: Thanks. Yeah, really. It’s going to be really fun, I hope.
iRunFar: How long have you thought about running the Western States 100?
Buud: Maybe, I don’t know, a year?
iRunFar: Not so long. Most people have to wait longer than that, but you’re fortunate. Last year, you were the defending 100k World Champion going into the world championships at the end of the year and, then, had to drop out with some back issues. Are you feeling better now?
Buud: Yeah, I haven’t had any problems since the middle of December, so I’ve been training really well since then.
iRunFar: Not too much racing?
Buud: No, just one race in Tarawera [Ultramarathon] in February, and, then, I did Stockholm Marathon three or four weeks ago. That’s all.
iRunFar: Have you focused your training mostly around Western States?
Buud: Yeah, I have.
iRunFar: Personally, I think it’s a race that suits you really well. What do you think are your best strengths here?
Buud: I don’t like the canyons, but everything else I like.
iRunFar: What don’t you like about the canyons?
Buud: It’s too steep climbs. I want to have it not so steep.
iRunFar: I hear you’re pretty good at descending.
Buud: Yeah, if it’s not too steep.
iRunFar: But some of that is a little too steep and rocky for your liking?
Buud: Yeah, but I think I can manage that as well.
iRunFar: You’ve done races with long, steeper descents like UTMB or Transgrancanaria. How have you fared on the descents versus other people there?
Buud: I think I’m good at that. I think my worst part is when it’s really steep up. That’s where I lose time.
iRunFar: You don’t practice walking, do you?
Buud: Noooooo, but I think will walk a lot in this race, I think.
iRunFar: Do you think that will be a challenge for you mentally, or do you accept that as part of ultrarunning?
Buud: I think I must accept that, because I knew from other races that so many good runners do when it’s really steep up. I’m a little better on the flat and down.
iRunFar: We’ve watched you race many times. You’re very consistent throughout the race, and that often means you improve in your standing later in the race.
Buud: Yeah, I try to. That’s the challenge to know how to run your race. You can’t go too hard in the beginning or it’s a disaster in the end. You must listen to your body and trust your own feelings and don’t run or look so much to the other competitors. You must go by yourself.
iRunFar: That’s one thing in, say, a road 100k where you have 10k splits and you’ve run it a bunch of times and you know very much your effort. 100 miles of mountain—what do you base your consistency on?
Buud: It’s just your feeling and how your body reacts to the different types of situations in the race. You must listen and trust your feelings much more in this type of race than a road race.
iRunFar: Perception and not heart rate… just how you’re feeling.
Buud: No, no… yes.
iRunFar: In a race like this, it’s going to be 14 or more hours. You’re probably going to have a low spell or two during the race—maybe not feeling horrible, but not feeling strong. How do you get through that?
Buud: Yeah, I hope I get through that. I haven’t done so many races. This will be my longest race. Transgrancanaria was 12 or 13 hours.
iRunFar: The year you were second at UTMB was the 100k year.
Buud: Yes, it was. I’ve run 100 miles before, and that was 12:35. I’ve never done a long race like this, so it will be the interesting in the last part to see.
iRunFar: Do you look forward to that challenge of seeing something new?
Buud: Yes, of course. It’s going to be really interesting.
iRunFar: What are you looking forward to most this weekend?
Buud: Everything. To be here, to go out and train like I did today… everything around this also is really fantastic.
iRunFar: You have our family here having a little vacation?
Buud: Yes, we will be here two-and-a-half weeks. It will be nice.
iRunFar: Have you changed your training at all specifically for this race? What have you done differently than you would for other races?
Buud: Yes, I didn’t run Comrades [Marathon] this year, so I changed a lot. That was a really hard decision to…
iRunFar: I saw on Facebook where you had a bunch of your medals.
Buud: That was a tough weekend, the Comrades weekend. I’ve been running more in the forest and on the trails. I’ve done a little bit more climbing than I used to do.
iRunFar: I’ve seen where you live. There’s not a lot of… it’s rolling, but there’s just one hill. What’s the name of that hill?
Buud: Yes, just one hill–Gesundaberget. It’s 200 meters of climbing. That’s not so much.
iRunFar: What’s the most you’ve done that in one session?
Buud: This year, it’s maybe six times. It’s not so much. We had snow in Sweden, as well. I’ve just been able to run it since the middle of May.
iRunFar: But you’ve run mountainous races before coming from flatter terrain, so you can’t be too intimidated.
Buud: No, I think I will manage it.
iRunFar: How will you manage the heat?
Buud: That’s maybe a little bit more problems, but I’ve been down in Napa for three days before I came here, and that was 100 Fahreinheit.
iRunFar: Did you go out running in the middle of the afternoon?
Buud: Yeah, and it was terrible. I’ve been practicing.
iRunFar: You remember you say you hate the canyons? The hills won’t be the worst part. Any sauna training?
Buud: Yeah, some, but you can’t compare to being in a sauna with running in 100F. It’s not the same.
iRunFar: Were you just sitting in the sauna, passive heat training?
iRunFar: You think the hills will be the biggest challenge?
Buud: Yes, I think so.
iRunFar: How do you think your housemate, Elov [Olsson], will do? He’s kind of new to a lot of people.
Buud: Yeah, I think he’s going to do really well. We were here some weeks ago at the training session, and he was really strong the first two days. I think he can do it really good.
iRunFar: What do you think your maximum potential is here this year?
Buud: I don’t know, but, of course, I want to be in the top 10.
iRunFar: Get some experience and come back?
Buud: Yeah, maybe.
iRunFar: Best of luck out there, and enjoy the course.