Jared Hazen, 2019 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Champion, Interview

With a third place and a second place at the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile already to his credit, Jared Hazen now has a win at the race, as well. In the following interview, Jared talks about how his race went, what it was like racing Seb Spehler, and what his thoughts are heading back to the Western States 100 after a few years away from the distance.

For more on how the race played out, read our Lake Sonoma 50 results article.

Jared Hazen, 2019 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Champion, Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Jared Hazen after his win at the 2019 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. Jared, how does it feel to have won today?

Jared Hazen: Really good. Yeah, to take third, and then second, and to get the sweet victory was pretty nice.

iRunFar: It’s been a long time coming.

Hazen: Definitely. I seem to keep showing up at races that Jim Walmsley likes to run, so getting a win every once in a while is nice [laughs].

iRunFar: You’ve been third here before, and you’ve been third at Western States. How does today’s experience compare to those results?

Hazen: I mean, getting a win is just different from a podium spot. It means a little more, I think.

iRunFar: Can you walk me through the race a little bit? It seemed to me, as an observer, that you and Sébastien Spehler and Tom Evans were within a couple minutes of each other for basically the entire race. Is that basically true?

Hazen: Yeah, I guess at some points in the race I wasn’t super aware of that, like toward the second half of the race. Basically the first four miles, I wanted to take it out pretty honest and hard. So, I did that on the road and then on the trails I immediately started working the downhills. Seb was right there and Tom was right there. As far as I was concerned, we had a little three-man pack. I could tell there were some other people close behind, but they weren’t running with us.

We were a little three-man pack, and after mile four, Seb took the lead. He was setting a good pace, too, all the way to Warm Springs. I think he took a little stop there and I got ahead of him. We all kind of regrouped a few miles after that and were together again. Once we hit the first big climb of the race, Seb started to hammer. That was kind of my plan, “When we hit the big climbs, I’m going to start working.” I was in the lead coming off the singletrack onto these service roads. I start going up, and all of a sudden he’s by me and he’s running really hard.

iRunFar: Was it a move to take the lead, or is that just how he runs the uphills?

Hazen: I assumed it was a move. I guess he just decided he wants to try to run away from us now. It seemed suicidal, almost. I got right behind him and stared at his feet and was working really hard just to keep up. He hit that whole section really good, all the way from Madrone Point to the turnaround he was on top of it, running really hard.

iRunFar: Did he create a gap at all in that section?

Hazen: Yeah, well, we dropped Tom shortly after the crew point at Madrone. It was just Seb and me. We run up the biggest climb and get to the turnaround together, come back and on the descent I had to pull over and take a quick pit stop and so he got about 30 seconds on me and he turned that into about a minute by the time we got back to Madrone. We were within about a minute there and then we got back on the singletrack. I chipped away at the time gap and eventually caught him around mile 34 and passed him.

iRunFar: A little before Warm Springs.

Hazen: Yeah, a couple miles before Warm Springs.

iRunFar: Did you go right by him or did you guys run together again?

Hazen: I pretty quickly went right by him. I definitely noticed he would run the uphills a little harder than I could, or than I was comfortable with. He was kind of dragging me along on those. The downhills, he wasn’t hammering as hard, so I caught him on a downhill and, yeah, hit it pretty quick. I got a good little gap where I couldn’t see him anymore.

iRunFar: Those final 15 or 16 miles where you’re in the lead and Seb’s behind you–are you running strong and confident? What are you thinking there?

Hazen: It was hard to tell. I kind of thought, “Oh, he cracked, that hard pace is coming back to bite him.” But it didn’t. He stayed really tough. He ran a really strong last 15 and it was impressive. Yeah, I knew I was moving well, but anytime you’re leading a race and you don’t have updates from behind, it’s a little nerve-wracking. I’d hear some leaves rustling and look back, but nobody’s there. There are a few points on this course where you can see a minute or two behind. I was really looking forward to getting to Island View, and when I did the out-and-back and didn’t see him, I was like, “Okay, we’re good.”

iRunFar: Before we got on camera, you were talking about how impressive his stride and his running was.

Hazen: Yeah. He just looked really good. He was just pushing me around, basically. I don’t know. It was what I wanted to be doing to him. I was just kind of getting pushed around. All three of the big climbs, I would get right behind him and just start working real hard, to give me a mile here to keep up. He’s a very savvy racer. Even early on in the day, when we were coming up to some of the shorter hills, he would really get going into it. It took me a little while to catch up on because there would be a gap–he was gaining momentum. He’d do the same thing crossing rivers–he’d get across the river and just kind of book it. For a little bit, he was getting gaps here and there and then I got right on him. Whatever he did, I did. I was impressed. This guy’s a racer.

iRunFar: Was it cool to see a couple of really good European runners come over here? Lake Sonoma is a faster course that hasn’t seen as much of the European side.

Hazen: It was sweet. I hope some more guys come over. I’ve been to Les Templiers. They tend to do things a little differently there, and I think our trails tend to be a little more runnable, a little faster. Those guys typically don’t like that as much.

iRunFar: Some of them must–both Seb and Tom come from areas very much like this terrain-wise.

Hazen: Yeah.

iRunFar: So, you have Western States coming up. Anything else before then, race-wise?

Hazen: No.

iRunFar: You’re focused on that?

Hazen: Yeah, I’ll get a good, long training block in.

iRunFar: A good, long training block without too many 150-mile weeks?

Hazen: Yeah, we’ll try to be careful [chuckles].

iRunFar: Do you have any goals going toward that?

Hazen: I mean, that’s another race that I’d love to win. I mean, it’s going to be four years since I’ve run that race and run 100 miles, so that’ll be interesting. I intended to run States last year, obviously, and it didn’t work out. I guess I just haven’t found myself signing up for a 100 miler in a while.

iRunFar: Are you trepidatious or eager about it?

Hazen: I’m super eager about it, especially for a race like States. I kind of have a little history. It’s going to be tough. It’s a little bit like I’m new at it, but I’m really looking forward to it.

iRunFar: It’s been a couple of years since you’ve done it, but there’s going to be a lot of guys in the race against whom you have raced in the interim. You have people you can kind of gauge off of.

Hazen: Even the guys that I train with in Flagstaff. We’ve got five of us going to States. There’s me, Jim, Cody Reed, he was seventh last year, Eric Senseman who got a Golden Ticket this year, and Stephen Kersh got his Golden Ticket.

iRunFar: I won’t interview him because he just finished fourth today, but can you tell me a little bit about Stephen?

Hazen: Yeah, he’s a local guy in Flagstaff who was mostly doing road stuff. In the last year he’s started running some trails and 50ks. He trains with us pretty regularly. He’s a great runner, he was in good shape for this. We were all a little curious. It’s his first 50 miler, what’s going to happen? I think everybody’s curious, when it comes to a faster guy–it could go either way.

iRunFar: Totally. It kind of came out in the middle. It wasn’t an extreme. He didn’t outrun you, but he didn’t blow up, either.

Hazen: He ran a really smart race. I think 6:18 is what he ran, which is a very solid debut here.

iRunFar: That’s probably in the range of top-10 times, before this year. Solid. Well, congratulations on your win here, Jared. I look forward to seeing you in California.

Hazen: All right.

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