Adam Peterman won the 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k, setting a new course record in the process, but he says he didn’t have the perfect day. In the following interview, Adam talks about the literal and figurative highs and lows of his performance, his long duel with second-place David Sinclair, and how he’s unsure of his summer racing plans just yet.
For more on what happened at the race, check out our Canyons 100k results article for the play-by-play and links to other post-race interviews.
Adam Peterman, 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Adam Peterman. It’s the day after the 2022 Canyons Endurance runs by UTMB 100k. Congratulations, champion.
Adam Peterman: Yeah. Thanks so much. Thanks for coming out and interviewing me today.
iRunFar: Yeah, it’s awesome. How are you feeling the morning after running 100 kilometers, kind of uphill?
Peterman: Yeah, yeah. I’m feeling pretty good, definitely better than I thought I would. But yeah, quads are really sore, and yeah, I’ll probably be pretty hungry later in the day.
iRunFar: The quad soreness is a common ailment, I’m hearing, around runners this morning. But this is kind of an uphill race. So, I wonder what is in that?
Peterman: Yeah, I don’t know. I thought my calves would be sore because yeah, that’s 15,000 feet of climbing and then 10,000 feet of descending. So, you wouldn’t think the quads would go. But yeah, mine were pretty sore even at mile 40 yesterday. So, it was the first thing to go. Yeah, I was a little worried.
iRunFar: Well, maybe they are hardened up for this event that you may or not run with this Golden Ticket you may or may not take.
Peterman: Yep. Yeah. I have to make a decision here, whether to do Western States or UTMB CCC. So, really good options, but fortunately I have a two-week grace period to decide.
iRunFar: Yeah. Well, let’s back up a little bit on yesterday. When we interviewed you before the race, you had this quiet confidence and it seemed like you had a plan of how you wanted things to go yesterday. Yeah, walk us through the early part of the race and if things went how your mind thought they would.
Peterman: Yeah, for sure. It was probably the most stacked field I’ve ever run against. And so I had a ton of respect for all the guys, but I also really thought that I had a chance of winning. So yeah, I went out, and my goal was just to stay with people through 20 or 30 miles.
I just really wanted to stay within myself, but I was pretty surprised, like through … I was always in second around there for almost the whole race through 30 miles. But yeah, I was running with David Sinclair for that big climb up to Foresthill and I didn’t feel that good.
iRunFar: Oh, really?
Peterman: It was hard. Yeah. I was kind of struggling, and that’s what I’m learning, how it goes in these events. You don’t just feel good the whole time. But yeah, I was kind of struggling up through Foresthill and then at Foresthill, he left me and he had probably a minute on me by Michigan Bluff. And then I heard at one point he was even four minutes ahead of me after Michigan Bluff. So, it didn’t go how I expected. I kind of thought I’d be able to go to Foresthill and then that’s where I start putting some time in. But man, I mean, David Sinclair’s a beast. He’s a really strong runner.
iRunFar: So, let’s see. Foresthill, the climb up Cal Street to Foresthill, you didn’t feel that great. He put a little bit of time on you after that. But I think in interviewing him last night, he said after Michigan Bluff was the time that he struggled a bit. And you, I think you guys caught up to each other and rolled into, or were together rolling into, the Deadwood Cemetery loop. What is that mile? 44?
Peterman: Mile 44, yeah. Yeah. That’s how it went. I think he had a really good plan at the aid stations because he never stopped. He would put on a vest and then take it off and grab a handheld. And then at the next one, he’d grab his vest again.
iRunFar: Got it.
Peterman: And I just used a vest and yeah, he crushed that part. And so yeah, out of Forest Hill, he just got some time on me. And then between Foresthill and Michigan Bluff, it’s a six-mile section, and he was just running so fast. I was getting frustrated because I got dropped and it was hard.
It was harder than I wanted it to be at mile 33 of this race, where you’re pretty much not even halfway because of how long the back half takes. But I remember running, I was running up the dirt road up to Michigan Bluff and I think I hit a seven-minute mile with a pretty big climb in it.
iRunFar: Wow. Where is this guy?!
Peterman: I was like, “I am not running bad right now.” That’s what I realized. I was like, “I’m actually doing pretty good, and he’s killing me.” Yeah. And I think I went through Michigan Bluff and my mom was kind of in the trees 100m later …
iRunFar: My mom was in the trees.
Peterman: Yeah. She was cheering in the trees, and I was frustrated. She’s like, how you doing? And I’m like, I’m okay but he’s killing me right now. I was kind of frustrated then. But fortunately after Michigan Bluff, you descend down that canyon and come back up, and I hit that climb really hard to catch him back up at Deadwood.
iRunFar: It’s an interesting observation about ultrarunning is that there are these waves where you feel good and feel bad and then feel good and you have to keep problem-solving your way through it. Can you talk about what you did there, or how you think you got out of things?
Peterman: Yeah. I mean, a lot of it’s probably just related to nutrition. I don’t know. I would just have periods where I’d be able to eat quite a bit and then periods where I wouldn’t be able to stomach as much. So, I don’t know, if I wasn’t just fueling consistently, but there’d be times where I’d take a gel and wait a couple of minutes and take another and then take another.
iRunFar: Huh. And they all went in.
Peterman: And they all went in until the end, which I don’t know if you want to talk about.
iRunFar: We like puking stories on iRunFar. It’s ultrarunning.
Peterman: That’s awesome. Yeah. True. But yeah, I would have hours where I would take in a ton. You’d have 400 calories in the bottle and I’d take a few gels and I think I had 700 calories in 45 minutes between Foresthill and Michigan Bluff.
And then you have a period where I’m not eating, but then I guess an hour later, I felt pretty good. So, I think it’s always related to that. But yeah, it’s just what I could take in and deal with.
iRunFar: Well, the two of you came into Deadwood Cemetery aid station the first time, I guess that’s mile 44, basically together, within a couple of seconds. And then you came back from that five-mile loop in Deadwood Cemetery with a couple-minute lead. Were you consciously pushing, or was it you were just feeling good and riding the high, or what went through your mind and body in that loop?
Peterman: Yeah. Because I caught him right after Deadwood on a climb and he was walking, and I was able to run it. And so that was a big moment for me, because the last two hours I was worried that I was going to lose. I had to get those negative thoughts out of my head, but yeah. I had a lot of doubt. I was kind of upset.
But yeah, when I saw him walking and I was running, I was like, “All right, this is a good sign.” But you know, it’s mile 45 and you have hours to go because the climb at the end takes so long. So I tried to pass him with, what do people say? Pass with authority.
iRunFar: Yeah. Yeah.
Peterman: I mean, obviously it’s ultrarunning, so we’re like, “Good job, man.” And he’s like, “Yeah, you’re crushing it.” Everyone’s so nice. But yeah, I tried to pass him, actually make a move. But like I said, the energy levels, that was a great hour there. And then the next hour was really tough again. So I felt like I was being hunted.
iRunFar: From being the chaser to being the chased.
Peterman: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
iRunFar: After Deadwood Cemetery number two, I think you’re coming up on the mile 50 mark. You steeply drop through one of the upper drainages of El Dorado Canyon and then you climb up onto this ridgeline and then it’s this grind to the finish. I think it was a challenging few miles for you there for a couple of reasons.
Peterman: Oh, for sure. So, we were talking earlier, but right after Deadwood, at the Deadwood aid station, the second time you go around, I just pounded two Coca-Colas and …
iRunFar: It sounded like a good plan?
Peterman: Yeah. It sounded like a good plan and you know, you start running downhill immediately and I threw up almost instantly. And fortunately, it was only Coke. It wasn’t more. Yeah. So, I had to take a break from eating for a little while. I always look at my watch. I’m like, “10 minutes. Okay. 10 minutes, you’re not eating anything.” I have these little plans, but yeah.
I took a break from eating for a while, got down to the bridge, and I was actually kind of glad that the rest was uphill. Because like we were saying earlier, my quads were shot. And so I was like, all right, no more downhills. This is great. And yeah, that climb was tough, though. I think you gain 2,500 feet or 3,000 feet in the last eight miles.
iRunFar: And it’s steep at times, quite steep.
Peterman: It’s steep at the beginning, yeah. And so that part was hard. I just tried to keep the effort high, but not blow up. Because at that point I kind of felt like I was teetering on the edge of walking for a while. So I did do some run-walking. I would just try to go 30 seconds of walking, 30 seconds of running. But then you get up on this ridge and it’s really rocky and yeah, that part was really tough. It wasn’t until we crested that and it was flat that I felt good again.
iRunFar: Okay. And then you guys saw some snow and some water and some mud and just kind of everything the last, was it, 5 or 6, 7k?
Peterman: Yeah, exactly. I think the last three miles, it was just consistent snow. I was fine with that just because in Montana we’ve had a lot of snow this spring, at least a little bit higher above the city where I run and stuff. But yeah, the pain in the butt was, I think it was a dirt bike trail.
And so there were a bunch of little whoop-de-dos, and those things were just standing water. Fortunately, by that point, I was pretty sure I had it and I was like, all right, well if he’s going to catch me, this is a bad spot to do it. Because I feel like we’re all just running a 10-minute pace because of the conditions.
iRunFar: It would be like a slow-motion approach. Right?
Peterman: Exactly. One of my friends in the women’s race, she ended up getting sixth, texted me and said she passed someone right there. And she said it was a slow-mo race. Yeah. Super awkward.
iRunFar: How did you feel crossing the line as the champion, new course record holder, Golden Ticket getter if you want it? How did that feel?
Peterman: Oh man. It was just such a relief and a big moment. I was really, really excited. All these people … There were so many more people there than I expected, and I had such a good crew, and my family was out here. So it was definitely a really special finish for me. And got to high five everyone at the finish. I’ve never done that before. But no, it was just huge.
I think that was one of the most … That’s probably one of my most memorable finishes. And also just being done. Those last two hours were so hard. I couldn’t wait to finish. But no, it was really special.
iRunFar: You said when we started this interview that you’re going to take your time and think on that Golden Ticket.
iRunFar: And that you’re also pondering the CCC.
Peterman: Yeah. So, since I don’t have an entry into UTMB, or I didn’t until yesterday. And so getting top three here qualified me for CCC, I think even OCC, but yeah. So, there’s a lot of good options. I can either run Western States or UTMB CCC, which are two races I really want to do.
iRunFar: It’s a good problem to have.
Peterman: Yeah. No, I’m really happy. Yeah. Because if I didn’t get top three yesterday, I would’ve had to qualify for UTMB at Speedgoat. And I love Speedgoat, but that was a tough race. I did it last year. So, I wouldn’t mind a couple of years in between doing it again.
iRunFar: Got it.
Peterman: But, fortunately, I have a couple of weeks here where I get to decide if I take the ticket or not. And yeah, running Western States is … Ever since I was there last year, I really want to try it. And I think it was just such a neat race. And it has this huge history.
I guess my reservation is, I just don’t want to get destroyed from it. Because I feel like I’m not … I’m 26. So, I’m not that young, but yeah. I don’t know. I don’t want to burn out, but also things are good right now. So, I wouldn’t mind trying it while things are good.
iRunFar: Yeah. Use your legs but not burn the legs, right?
Peterman: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I feel like if I did States, I probably wouldn’t race again until the fall. It would have to be something like that, but yeah. We’ll see how the next week goes with recovery and stuff.
iRunFar: Yeah. My last question for you. You come from sort of the traditional running lineage of cross country, track, etc. You know, when you’re sitting the day after running a certifiably ridiculous 100k through the mountains, do you ever look back on this trajectory and think, “Hmm, wow.”
Peterman: Yes. Sometimes. I was thinking about that before this race. Because I ran the steeplechase and that race takes about nine minutes and then this one takes, like, eight and a half hours. I’m like, man.
iRunFar: And has 9,000 jumps. Right?
Peterman: Yeah, exactly. That’s actually funny. There’s one creek crossing where they had a rope, then I just slipped and fell in.
iRunFar: This is my one chance to show my steepling.
Peterman: Yeah, exactly. And I blew it. But no, it’s kind of crazy I guess, because it wasn’t that long ago. Actually, my last college race was here in Sacramento about four years ago.
iRunFar: Full circle.
Peterman: Yeah. Yeah. It was NCAA regionals or something like that. But it also makes sense to me. Even though I was running competitively in college and doing those shorter races, I would still go out for backpacking trips, some really long endurance bike rides, and stuff like that.
And so, I feel like I always knew that this is probably what I would do if I didn’t have a bunch of success in college. And in college, I wasn’t as successful as I thought I would be. So yeah. This made sense.
iRunFar: And you’re a rugged Montanan. That trajectory is probably always part of your heart.
Peterman: That’s true. Oh yeah. Being in Montana and having this lifestyle, it’s so awesome. I couldn’t imagine anything better. You just get to explore every day.
iRunFar: Awesome. Well, congratulations to you on your win of Canyons by UTMB yesterday. And I don’t envy your decision on which race you’ll go to later this year.
Peterman: Yeah. I’ll share soon on social media what I decide. But yeah, thanks so much for covering. It was awesome, the coverage you guys had, and good seeing you at Deadwood too.
iRunFar: Yeah. That was fun. Congrats.
Peterman: Thank you.