Jared Hazen had his breakout ultrarunning performance at the 2015 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile when he placed third, and, now, he’s back this week for his third go at the race after taking second last year. In the following interview, Jared talks about his run at the JFK 50 Mile last November, what he’s learned since that run at Sonoma four years ago, and who he thinks will be his strongest competition on Saturday.
Jared Hazen Pre-2019 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Jared Hazen before the 2019 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. How are you Jared?
Jared Hazen: Doing great Bryon. How are you?
iRunFar: Alright. You’re just getting into town on a beautiful day?
Hazen: Yeah. Just getting up here. Kind of a long day of travel from Flag[staff, Arizona], but yeah, it’s good.
iRunFar: How do you deal with the travel? Are you alright with it?
Hazen: Realistically today isn’t that bad. It’s a two-hour flight and then a bit of a drive, but traffic’s a little bit crazy around here so it feels a little more stressful, but yeah, no biggie.
iRunFar: Get out and unwind on the trails in about 15 minutes.
Hazen: Yeah. A little trail run and then go to bed.
iRunFar: Nice. Well since we last chatted, you had an amazing run at JFK 50 Mile last year. Can you kind of walk me through that a little bit?
Hazen: Yeah. I showed up feeling kind of in shape and fresh and with Zach Miller in the field and Eric Senseman I think we all just wanted to run hard and push and I think we all know how Zach is, with always keeping the pace honest, so we all just worked together a long chunk of the race. And then at the end I just kind of felt that I had the strength and was able to just pull away from Eric and Zach in the last 10 miles and ended up being a really great run on a kind of sloppy-conditions day.
iRunFar: A sloppy day. I mean you were easily the second-fastest time, correct?
iRunFar: Jim [Walmsley] had a really good day.
Hazen: Yeah. I mean I was there, I was crewing Jim when he ran 5:21 and it was a really nice day. Yeah, so.
iRunFar: You nailed it.
Hazen: Yeah, I was stoked. I was stoked about it.
iRunFar: And since then you’ve gone and run the Nine Trails 35 Mile. Was that a real focus race or was that a nice early season workout?
Hazen: Yeah. Kind of a good kind of last real long one before this. It was kind of like my week of spring break from school so just kind of decided to make an excuse to go out to Santa Barbara for a week and train on some dry trails.
iRunFar: Yeah. And how’s that going, school?
Hazen: Good. Keeping me really busy, so I’m looking forward to summer break coming up here.
iRunFar: And what are you studying?
Hazen: Studying microbiology.
iRunFar: Some intense studying and some lab time.
Hazen: Yeah. Some tough stuff. This is my first semester taking o[rganic] chem[istry], so that’s kind of been….
iRunFar: You just brought back some nightmares.
Hazen: Yeah. It’s been probably my toughest semester yet, but getting through.
iRunFar: Nice. Back in 2015, I really think of Lake Sonoma, your race here, as like your breakout.
iRunFar: Does it feel that way in retrospect?
Hazen: Yeah, I was thinking about that on the flight here. I came in, just like some 19-year-old nobody kid.
Hazen: Yeah. I took third, then went on to take third at the Western States 100 a couple of months later and that kind of definitely catapulted me in the right direction of how I came to be here I guess.
iRunFar: And now do you feel like four years later that you’ve maybe established yourself, not only to the community but to yourself?
Hazen: Yeah. I think I’ve kind of accomplished some things that were long-term goals, and I’m setting new big goals, but I feel like I’m really at the point now where, this is where I wanted to be six years ago when I started on this ultrarunning journey. Like this is the position I wanted to be in, showing up at big races and contending for the win. And it’s like, I feel like I’m in that position now.
iRunFar: You are. You’re the top-returning runner from last year, and you’re really strong obviously right now. How do you think it might pan out with some of those other top runners this weekend?
Hazen: I would love to win this weekend, but it’s a good field. I think one of the deeper fields I think Sonoma’s seen in a little while at least. 2015 was another pretty good year. But yeah it’s got some international guys coming this year, with Tom Evans and then is it Steven or Stephen….
iRunFar: Seb. Seb Spehler.
Hazen: Seb. From France.
iRunFar: You’ve been out, you’ve been over to Les Templiers before.
iRunFar: That’s a really good field.
Hazen: Yeah. Good field. Pretty similar to this as far as the profile I guess. It’s not exactly the same, but I think running well there bodes well for running well here.
iRunFar: Who do you think might be the one or two biggest challengers for the front?
Hazen: I think Tom for sure, and then Dakota [Jones], Max [King]. I’d put those guys up there too as the guys to beat.
iRunFar: And is this a step along the way to Western States or is this kind of an aim unto itself?
Hazen: Both. I’d love to run Western States this year and I don’t have a Golden Ticket yet, so this needs to be….
iRunFar: Now does that change your approach to this? Which matters more, going for it and crushing it on Saturday or could it be being a little more conservative and trying to get that spot, because it would increase your chances?
Hazen: Yeah. I think I’ll be going for it Saturday. Because I think with who’s in the field right now, you know, you could take fifth and get a ticket for sure on Saturday, just because a lot of people already have their tickets. Yeah. I’m in good shape. I’m feeling good. I’ve kind of started to find out that that doesn’t always happen all the time.
iRunFar: No, I was about to ask.
Hazen: It’s a little more rare than you might think.
iRunFar: You’ve battled injuries on and off the past couple of years, like some pretty intense injuries.
Hazen: Yeah. I went from like not dealing with injuries and running a ton, and then all of sudden it was just like I got in a bad cycle of a sacral stress fracture, stress fracture of my femoral neck, some pubic-symphysis stuff. So it’s been some really nasty ones that required a couple months off at a time.
iRunFar: And have you been healthy since before JFK?
iRunFar: Straight through?
Hazen: Yeah. So that’s been really fun.
iRunFar: Have you had to temper your training or your approach, or how do you change your approach in respect to those injuries?
Hazen: Yeah. I’m a little bit more careful with training. I’ve realized it’s more like the big weeks I try to analyze like risk/reward. Usually it’s like, I’m in really good shape, what’s the point of running 150 miles this week, what am I going to gain versus 120? Trying to be better at thinking of training that way as opposed to this is the plan I have and this is what I’m going to do before the race.
iRunFar: So it doesn’t mean maybe that you won’t do a 150-mile week, but it’ll be intentional, it’ll be this is part of my plan.
Hazen: Right. It’ll be more something like maybe I’ll do it before States. Do I need to do it before Sonoma? Type of thing. Yeah, just trying to be a little smarter about kind of what I’m doing every week.
iRunFar: Have you learned anything else over the last four years, any big lessons as you’ve progressed?
Hazen: I think one thing with ultras is you’ve just got to show up and be ready to go, because if you’re lackadaisical or you make a few mistakes, they’re still hard races. No matter how many times you do them or how experienced you are, it’s hard and you’re going to have to dig deep, and you’re going to have to want it. And yeah, these things don’t come easy.
iRunFar: Have you found you have to mentally be invested in each particular race rather than just being like oh, I’m an ultrarunner, I can go race 50 miles any day.
Hazen: Yeah. Exactly that. In picking races you get excited about, you know, you can’t just show up on a 100k starting line and be like, Oh I’m here because this is a nice area, I’m on vacation, I’m going to run 62 miles. That’s not really, you know, how it works.
iRunFar: Well I hope you enjoy it out there this weekend and maybe you’ll get that win this weekend.
Hazen: Thanks, Bryon.
iRunFar: Thank you, Jared.