Ryan Sandes, 2017 Western States 100 Champ, Finish-Line Interview Transcript
Tim Twietmeyer: This race was really a challenge between the snow and the mud. Where were you when you got to Lyon Ridge after having worked your way there?
Ryan Sandes: I think I was in about fourth position. Yeah, the snow was really hard going. It nearly removed my shins and knee caps a few times going through the snow. I quite enjoyed the variety. I didn’t expect to be this slow.
Twietmeyer: I think this was a lot like 2006, the same kind of conditions with a fair amount of snow and a really hot day. You arrived at Lyon Ridge. You’re 17 minutes behind Jim Walmsley already. Were you just playing it tactical and saying, I’ll let those guys run. I’m doing my race, or were you a little worried you’d lose contact?
Sandes: No, I ran up with Jim at the start. I said, “Are you doing sub-14?” He said, “Yes.” I knew with the heat today and those conditions, I knew it wasn’t happening, or I thought there was a good chance. I thought he would come back, but big respect to him for going out there and really pushing it. Takes a lot of balls to do that. I’ve got a lot of respect for him.
Twietmeyer: You find yourself in Foresthill less than an hour behind the leader again. Mentally are you thinking, Well, maybe this is not my day. I’ll run in in second? Or are you thinking, I’ve still got a shot here. I can close in an hour?
Sandes: I think at Foresthill it was more about survival. Coming out of the river, the last stretch before the river, I was nearly broken. The guys were catching. Thanks to my pacer, Ryno [Griesel], who really pushed me quite hard to Highway 49. Yeah, for me, Western States is my dream race to win, so it couldn’t be better with my wife, my baby, and I brought some of my very good friends here. So for me, it’s one of the greatest days of my life.
Jim King: You’re not the kind of guy who needs motivation or extra resolve, but you finished second before, so has this been the focal point for the training coming back for this race?
Sandes: Yeah, I’ve come back once or twice, but it hasn’t quite gone according to plan. Yeah, I was pretty pumped to come back and really give it a good go. It has been my focus race for the year.
Twietmeyer: I’m curious to know with as far behind as you were and then to take the lead when you went by Jim down by the river… I’ve been in that position before, and it feels like you can run the world into the ground because now you’ve got the lead. Did you feel an extra spark—Now this is my race to win? Or were you like, Oh, boy, who’s on my heels? I’d better get going here.
Sandes: I did feel an extra spark, and then got to the river and was completely broken. Then I was looking over my shoulder the whole time. Yeah, I did feel that extra fire when I took the lead. It was cool.
King: How was the heat for you? Were you well trained for it?
Sandes: I come from South Africa where there’s generally quite a bit of heat. I’ve been here for two weeks and spent a bit of time in Auburn, so I got used to the heat. But I’m feeling pretty nauseous now, so I guess the heat took a bit out of me.
Twietmeyer: Considering you were only a few minutes ahead of those other guys when you were feeling you were broken down at the river, you sure finished strong. Did you feel the energy of the legs were coming back as you got closer to the gravitational pull of the finish line as the champion?
Sandes: Not really. I was pretty done the whole time. I was on the edge of survival. I had one or two good patches, but by the end I was cooked.
King: You ran a great race, This is a phenomenal Western States day. You did it. You won. We want to congratulate you. You did it with great style as well.
Twietmeyer: From Jim King who is a three-time champ, and I’ve been across the finish line first five times, welcome to the champion circle. You’ve earned it. Great job!
Sandes: Thanks so much, guys. Thank you.