The U.S.’s Adam Peterman was the odds-on favorite at the 2022 Trail World Championships 80-kilometer race, and he delivered in his win of the event. In the following interview, Adam talks about how the race played out from his perspective, how he worries about breaking his streak of ultrarunning wins, the green snake he saw on the course, and what it was like to be a part of the gold-medal winning men’s Team USA.
For more on how the race played out, check out our 2022 Trail World Championships 80k results article.
Adam Peterman, 2022 Trail World Championships 80k Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, I’m with Adam Peterman. It’s the day after the 2022 Trail World Championships 80k. You’re the champion. Congratulations, good morning.
Peterman: Hey good morning, yeah thanks, it was a really fun day, super special.
iRunFar: How are you feeling, what is this, like 12, 15 hours after the race now?
Peterman: Oh man, yeah. I was just talking with my USA teammates about that and we’re worked. That was tough. That was a battle the whole time out there.
iRunFar: There was a lot of talk before the race — anticipation of heat, humidity, vert, roots, rocks, et ceteras. How did things actually work out on the day, how were the conditions for you?
Peterman: Yeah I would say, I think we talked about heat and humidity a lot and that wasn’t as big of a factor. It was really humid, but it really wasn’t that hot, like a lot of the backstretch was at a little bit of altitude above the valley. Yeah, it really wasn’t bad. Had a lot of climbing, for me at least, 48 miles and had about 15k [15,000 feet] of climbing, that was a lot. And then the funny thing was a lot of it was on these dirt roads. But really, really hilly.
And so it was runnable and you could run fast but man, they were packing a lot of vert into those roads. But really, really cool course. I mean the whole backside goes past these little villages and at one point we ran through a little town. It was really neat to be back there.
iRunFar: Like away from the aid stations?
Peterman: Yeah, one of the — the second aid station, where we couldn’t have crew — was in a town but had a little aid station. But you are running through the streets of town and like through this little garden. It was sweet.
iRunFar: That’s awesome. You said as we were walking over here to do this interview that you did see one snake yesterday? I feel like we should report on that.
Peterman: I think at around 30k, I saw some green snake on the trail. I was running with Nico [Nicolas Martin] from France, and he was just a couple of steps behind me. So I saw the snake and moved out of the way, and I say, “Dude, snake!” There was a little language barrier and he just didn’t even. I don’t know if the snake was alive because it looked like he just about stepped on it.
iRunFar: Another member of your Team USA said the snake was not there when he got to it.
Peterman: Maybe it was alive, yeah, Nico dodged a bullet.
iRunFar: Green snake with, you said the perfect pyramid head of a poisonous …
Peterman: Yeah, maybe venomous, I don’t know. Yeah, I didn’t see any spiders. I saw a couple of these big-looking rodents. I don’t know what they are, but football-sized. Yeah.
iRunFar: No, I don’t know what that is.
Peterman: Yeah, I don’t know what they are.
iRunFar: Things to Google today.
Peterman: Yeah, but other than that I didn’t see anything else.
iRunFar: That’s fun. Okay, the competition itself. I feel like last week as we were walking around town, you know, ruminating about how things were going to happen. Pretty much everybody pointed to you as the odds-on favorite. This is how things turned out. Did you go into this race with a … I mean obviously, this is a race about placing, right? Did you go into this race thinking you are the favorite also?
Peterman: Yeah, I … Originally when Tom Evans from the U.K. was in it, I thought that would be a pretty good match. But unfortunately, he wasn’t here, so yeah, I actually figured it would be me and Thibaut Garrivier from France. So when it was Nico and Andreas [Reiterer] from Italy, I’ve just never met those guys, so I didn’t expect that. But yeah, I felt confident after the last few ultras I’ve done that I had a shot at winning. You never know. And honestly, I was a little stressed, just having this win streak that I’m really proud of, the last few ultras I’ve done.
iRunFar: Six now, right?
Peterman: I don’t know, maybe it might be five. At some point, it’s going to end and that’s okay. The day before the race, I was definitely kind of stressed about that. I don’t know, I’m not usually like that but it happened.
iRunFar: I mean the streak will break, maybe it won’t break, yeah. At some point it breaks, right?
Peterman: It will break and it’s all good; I’m really used to losing. In college, I lost all the time. I did a cross-country race last week and I lost, so yeah. But it wasn’t an ultra … Four miles, so yeah.
iRunFar: I love it. Tell us how the race went out in the early miles. The course itself, it was just you know, large ascent, fairly large descent. The vert seemed packed into groups, right?
Peterman: Yeah. The first, I think seven miles you gain about 5,000 feet so that part was pretty chill. We were all just hiking. I say it’s chill, it didn’t feel that hard, but no one was talking. It was probably the least chill ultra I have ever been in because everyone’s representing their country and it’s serious. But yeah, we were just hiking a lot of that but did that big climb, and then you kind of get in this backstretch area where it’s more of those dirt roads. Where it’s still really hilly but off the singletrack and pretty runnable.
iRunFar: More miles of running there?
Peterman: Yeah, I would say mile seven to the 50k mark. So you have about 23 miles that are runnable, I mean it still had 6 or 7k of climbing but you are on these steep dirt roads. And I actually liked that part. I think that suited my background a little better.
iRunFar: Yeah. People talked before this race that they were just, it was super variable. You would go one minute to something super steep and hiking to like very fast descending. Did you start seeing among the lead guys that you were with, did you start seeing people’s, you know, what they are best at and worst at, start coming out?
Peterman: Yeah, for sure. Like the Spanish guys are so good at descending. Man, we hit the high point of the course and it was a really steep downhill for, I want to say a mile or two. And those guys just blew my doors off. At one point I had to stop and take off my shoes because my feet were so wet, I had to fix my shoe. And I think eight people passed me and it was the Spanish team and then the French team. Yeah, it was all on a descent. I started thinking, There’s no way they could sustain that for an 80k race. So I just tried not to let it bother me. But yeah, at first, they were moving on those downhills.
iRunFar: It seemed like it was you and a couple of guys were running relatively together up until 50k, something like that. And then there started to be slight gaps that were opening up in the field. Were you pushing at that point, or was it naturally just starting to come or what was happening there?
Peterman: It was kind of, it reminded me actually of how I felt at the Western States 100. Through the first 30k, I didn’t feel very good again. I’ll have to figure that out because that’s the second time this has happened to me now this year. Yeah, through 30k I was, I definitely had a lot of doubt, wasn’t feeling good, wasn’t feeling good on descents. But what I started to notice after 30k was I was running with kind of the lead pack, and everyone was breathing a lot harder than me. And so that gave me some confidence to finally get out of that hole and realize that I was actually doing well.
iRunFar: You are actually doing okay?
Peterman: Yeah. At some point it was me and the French guy who ended up second, his name is Nico. But yeah, it was me and Nico, up until maybe mile 22, and then I started to pull away. I mean I was definitely running scared the whole time. I didn’t have any updates, not many out-and-back sections. With how fast those guys were descending, I kind of just pushed it all the way in.
iRunFar: The final ascent and final descent are both 1,000m doozies, but you, your ascent up to the final high point was faster than the couple guys behind you and the same with a descent. You added minutes on both. Running scared? A little bit?
Peterman: Yeah, yeah, definitely running scared.
iRunFar: On the downhill or?
Peterman: Both. On the uphill it is steep. It gains I think 3,500 feet in three miles or something like that. Maybe a little more.
iRunFar: A proper VK [vertical kilometer] kind of, to finish the race.
Peterman: Yeah, I was hiking almost the whole thing, which I don’t, I usually try to run these things and I just couldn’t. Oh man, that’s one of the hardest I’ve ever pushed in an ultra was that climb. And then actually on the descent, there’s two smaller climbs that take 10 minutes. And I was hammering. Yeah, I don’t usually go that hard — I’ve never gone that hard at the end of a seven-hour deal. But I was scared.
iRunFar: You also said as we were walking over here to do this interview that you experienced that, you were feeling like you are able to kind of really push hard for longer in these races. Like be at the edge of what’s comfortable for longer. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Peterman: Yeah, I guess what I’m comparing it to is probably the Canyons by UTMB 100k, or maybe even JFK 50 Mile, but I think I just figured out a little bit better, either fueling or like I’m stronger. It did feel like I could actually run climbs at the end and get into that higher zone, just working really hard.
iRunFar: Still get there.
Peterman: Yeah, whereas before it would be either muscular fatigue or something, but I couldn’t even do it. So I was happy to have that at the end. I think it ended up helping our team for sure because the score is based on average time. And I don’t know if I would’ve run as fast if I had known they were 15 minutes behind. Yeah, it was cool, special day.
iRunFar: You crossed the line … Oh, there go the leaders of the men’s up-down race right now. Uganda, Uganda, Uganda.
Peterman: That’s awesome.
iRunFar: That’s fun. You crossed the line as the Trail World Champion for the 80k. It’s been quite a 2022 for you. How does that feel?
Peterman: Yeah, it’s the perfect end to the year for me. To get the individual win and have our team win was really, really cool. I couldn’t ask for more here. Yeah, and it’s just a crazy year. Like I didn’t think when I started ultrarunning that this is what would happen. And honestly, I don’t — I train really hard, and I don’t have imposter syndrome, I feel like I deserve this. But I don’t know what I’m doing differently to be here. I don’t know, it’s been really cool, it’s been a really good year.
iRunFar: I love it. I do want to ask about that team aspect because that’s sort of like harkening it back to the high school and college days. Men’s Team USA had a stellar day yesterday. Talk about that a little.
Peterman: Yeah, it was super cool. So we had four guys on the team and then three score. And they actually scored it based on average time. And so, I think if you scored it like a regular cross-country meet, but with three people instead of five, France would have beaten us. But we got them based on average time. It was awesome. I think none of us expected that to happen. Yeah, I don’t know, we just kind of feel like a ragtag group. We are all friends, but Jeff [Colt] is in his elephant pants over there. Team France and Team Italy are all decked out in their kits. I’m in my camo shorts. It’s kind of funny.
iRunFar: Flip-flops happening.
Peterman: We’ve got the ultra mindset I guess. We were pretty stoked at the end, it was cool, cool to be on that podium too.
iRunFar: It was really fun at the award ceremony last night to see Team USA tucked in between — what we would call the favorites, the odds-on team favorites — Spain and France.
Peterman: Yeah, yeah, honestly I don’t think we all expected that. But those guys, we all just worked really hard, I think. When all of us finished, we were pretty shocked at how hard that was. And I think it’s just a testament, we really cared about the team title at the end.
iRunFar: I love it. Ragtag or not, Team USA dominated.
Peterman: It was awesome, it was super fun being with those guys. I hadn’t really hung out with them even before this week. I’m going to miss them, it’s been fun hanging with them.
iRunFar: It’s like summer camp in Thailand.
Peterman: Yeah actually. I feel like we look like a group of high schoolers too, with our outfits.
iRunFar: Amazing. On that note, congratulations to you on becoming the 80k Trail World Champion and more than that, congratulations on an incredible 2022 of racing.
Peterman: Sweet. Thanks so much. Hopefully, we can keep it going into 2023 but yeah, it’s been awesome.