Jim Walmsley, 2018 Western States 100 Champion, Interview Transcript
Jim King: Hello everybody! We’re here at the Placer High School in Auburn, California with the 2018 Western States Endurance Run men’s champion, Jim Walmsley! [Audience cheers] I don’t know if there has been a victory that was more anticipated, desired, predicted. You did it! What was your impression of the weather and the new course record, 14:30?
Jim Walmsley: Coming into today, I didn’t think it was going to happen because of the weather prediction being as hot as it was. But it was dry, so I really concentrated on staying wet and keeping moving. Really it just came down to having a special day, taking advantage of good legs and a great crowd. I can’t even tell you how many people shouting, “Go Jim!” It blew me away. I got to feel like I’m the hometown kid and I finally got to the actual turn.
Magdalena Boulet: First of all, congratulations. You get to keep this [hands Walmsley the finish-line ribbon]. I put the question to the internet, to find out what people wanted to hear from you today. The first question was, how sweet is it to win the race this year considering the adversity you faced in the past couple years?
Walmsley: So, I guess it’s just kind of sinking in. The last two years and all the way down the line, I’m trying not to take anything for granted. It’s crazy. I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. It’s been a long road to get here. I feel really fortunate.
Boulet: I think we can all feel it for you. We all really, really wanted this race. Congratulations again.
King: What was the most challenging area of the race or your most difficult time?
Walmsley: I think in general it was taking the risk again to start leading early. I had splits that I really wanted to hit through Robinson Flat. I tempered things to hopefully keep my legs fresh and it worked out even better than that. I don’t know. It’s just good to get in the lead after the last two years, including UTMB and Réunion [Diagonale des Fous]. Sometimes it gets intimidating to go try it again. I don’t know. I didn’t want to race any other way today.
Boulet: My question for you is: how hard was it to hold onto that rope at the river and not float away?
Walsmley: I just wanted to be a little bobber along there, put my feet up and enjoy. I think I was trying to get one of the volunteers to push my bottle back in–last time I lost both bottles. I was asking him if he could help me push my bottle back into my sleeve. It was nice because I was able to just take the water and douse myself going into Green Gate. I just remember getting roasted two years ago. It was really awesome to give the rope another go this year. I worked on my technique and now it’s part of the rule book, too.
[Someone off-screen shouts, “How about the bear?”]
King: Did you see a bear out there?
Walmsley: I think people are like, “Oh, bears are chasing you!” I saw a mama bear and two cubs and I stopped for maybe like two minutes. You make the left-hand turn that I missed in 2016. There were two people that were blocking me [from going the wrong way]. I complained that I wanted to do a jab-step past it for whoever was standing there, but they blocked it. But once I got to the top of that climb, yeah, there was a bear with two cubs and the two cubs just went right up the tree right next to the trail and then the mama bear wasn’t going anywhere far. Eventually, I sneaked by about 10 to 15 feet from it because I was like [checks his watch], “I’m on record pace. Desperate times call for desperate measures.” I don’t recommend it.
Boulet: All right. Knowing that you were under the course record, were you able to take it in during the last three miles and just enjoy this moment?
Walmsley: Not at all. I was running from it. I mean, Timothy Olson is a bad man. I hurt a lot. Even when I hit the track I was… It wasn’t until I hit the Quarry Road aid station that I was legitimately on course-record pace. I hadn’t really heard a lot of splits. I had no idea what was going on in the race.
King: Folks in the stands proved this race could be run in a hot year fast. You’ve taken that up another notch. Did you anticipate this time, 14:30? Is that what you were targeting?
Walmsley: I had splits set for 14:53, and that was closing hard. I think from Robinson Flat through the canyons I kept chipping away. But I kept running scared. That’s about it.
King: For Magda Boulet and Jim King, here at the Western States Endurance Run, we give our congratulations to Jim Walsmley! [Audience cheers]