Adam Peterman won the 2022 Western States 100 in his debut 100-mile race. In the following interview, Adam walks us through the race from his perspective, what his best memory of the day will be, whether he plans to return to this event someday, and how he plans to spend the rest of his racing year.
For more on how the race played out, read our 2022 Western States 100 results article.
Adam Peterman, 2022 Western States 100 Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Adam Peterman after his win of the 2022 Western States 100. How are you, Adam?
Adam Peterman: I’m great, Bryon. Yeah, thanks.
iRunFar: Yeah, we were just chatting about how, you know, this is a pretty incredible feat. A little different than the steeplechase, nine minutes, back in the day.
Peterman: [laughs] A little different. Yeah, yeah. Quite a bit longer, 50 times as long, pretty much.
iRunFar: In distance, yes. And in time a good bit more than that.
Peterman: Hundreds of times as long, yep.
iRunFar: Probably felt that way, too, yeah?
Peterman: Oh, man. I know. I keep reflecting on yesterday and yeah, I remember everything. And it’s, it was a long day. That was a long, long day for me.
iRunFar: It was like two full working days basically.
Peterman: For a full-time job.
iRunFar: For a full-time job, yeah. So, before we get into your race, I want to put this in a little context. Yesterday was your first 100-mile race.
iRunFar: It was your first Western States. You ran your first ultramarathon 11 months ago.
iRunFar: The maturity you showed on the course out there was just incredible. To what do you owe that?
Peterman: I think I just have so much respect for the course. And I was kind of lucky in a weird way. Like, I didn’t feel very good early on. Yeah. Like, through mile 15 I kind of felt off. I don’t know what it was, but I just had to take it really easy. And then even like around mile 30 to 38 I really didn’t feel that good. I think that was good. It just kind of made me run within myself.
Peterman: Yeah. Also just yeah, this course is so historically hot and hard and like, what’s that one article, “The Western States Killing Machine”.
Peterman: I read that and I was like, “I’m going to go out slow my first year.”
iRunFar: Nice. That article’s been referenced a couple times over the last few years. Yeah. I’m glad to hear that puts it in perspective. And I mean, you’ve had Mike Foote and other folks that have been mentors to you as well.
Peterman: Yeah. I just didn’t want to show up and blow up. I’d love to light the world on fire and like, go for the course record here someday, but I didn’t want that to be my first time.
iRunFar: You’d rather hit that 97% on your first try.
Peterman: Yeah. That’s how I felt. I just wanted to like, go for it my way and just run my race and hope that it shook out at the end and fortunately, it did in my favor.
iRunFar: It did. So, you had a couple pretty long, rough spots early on.
Peterman: Yeah, early.
iRunFar: When did you start feeling like alright, maybe it’s not a horrible day out here.
Peterman: It was crazy. I’d say a couple of rough spots like mile 10 to 20. And then what’d I say 30 to 40, something like that. But then I just changed my nutrition up a little bit and found what was sitting better. I got to say like from mile 45 to the end I didn’t feel bad.
Peterman: And that was crazy. Yeah, maybe a couple patches of like calories were down, stuff like that.
iRunFar: But then you reacted and fueled.
Peterman: Yeah. I couldn’t believe it, that I felt good for that long.
iRunFar: Did you have a plan B, or a plan B, C, and D for your nutrition going into the race?
Peterman: Yeah, I usually try to take 400 calories an hour in my bottles, and it was just too hot. Like it was too much to do that. It was kind of making me feel a little queasy, a little sick. So, I decided to tone it back and for whatever reason gels weren’t sitting, so I was taking Mott’s. Mott’s fruit snacks, just so many of those things.
iRunFar: I’ve had them as a nice respite, but…
Peterman: Oh, I had a lot of Mott’s yesterday. Yep. Yeah. I don’t know how many I ate but I ate a lot of Mott’s.
iRunFar: Move over, Hoka, get a Mott’s sponsorship.
Peterman: That would be awesome.
iRunFar: Was there a certain flavor? Apple cinnamon?
Peterman: I don’t even know if they have a flavor. Just an assortment.
iRunFar: Yeah, yeah. Nice. Nice. So, you come in, you know, middle of the race. You’re feeling strong.
iRunFar: Where do you move into to the lead?
Peterman: Yeah, I’d been moving up from kind of in the canyons section. I started feeling a lot better after I was able to get some food in me. I was getting updates that I was getting closer to Hayden [Hawks] I think by Foresthill. He was three minutes ahead of me. I felt pretty good still. I really felt like I was running to my ability. So, I think I finally caught him at mile 75. Yeah. And we ran together for a little while. I mean, it got pretty intense. Like he’s a great guy. He’s a friend of mine. And like both of us want each other to do really well. But we’re racing. And you know that section from Foresthill to the river, it’s mostly downhill. But there’s a few punchy climbs. And on one of those climbs like, it got real.
Peterman: It was pretty hot and like there’s that one double track steep climb, probably a couple hundred feet. And like, yeah we just hammered it. And that was like the moment. And like his pacer told me he’s like, after the race his pacer was like, “Dude, like that was threshold for me.” And I was like alright.
iRunFar: And you’ve still got a marathon to go on a hot day.
Peterman: I wasn’t scared. I was like, “This might be really stupid. But like, I’m here.”
iRunFar: Was it like a slow-motion kind of pass up until that point? Were you kind of just slowly…
Peterman: Yeah, just like kind of a yoyo. You know, maybe I get a little distance on him and then we hit an aid station and he’d catch back up and yeah, so.
iRunFar: Then it was go-time. So, was it you initiated?
Peterman: Yeah, I mean, both of us hit that climb pretty hard.
iRunFar: Make or break.
Peterman: Yeah, I just went for it. But I still like, it was funny. Like, I felt like it was just really hitting the gas like, not too hard. Because again, you know, it’s like 25 miles to go.
iRunFar: So, you’re not stomping on the gas pedal, you’re feathering it a little bit.
Peterman: Yeah, a little bit. Yeah. And then fortunately I picked up my pacer at Rucky Chucky and like, we brought it home.
iRunFar: Did you, after making that pass, did you keep pushing the effort for a couple of miles or?
Peterman: Yeah. Yeah, I did.
iRunFar: And then did you consciously back off at all?
Peterman: You know, I got, the only time I’d say I got hot all day was there. Was like a couple of miles before the river. It’s just a hot section. My ice bandana ran dry. I just got kind of hot there. But picked up the pacer, my buddy Jeff at the river. And I felt like he gave me a lot of confidence. Like it’s just a friend of mine I run with all the time in Missoula. He’s another Hoka athlete, one of my best friend’s. And yeah, he just kept telling me, he’s like, “Dude, you’re running like really well.” But you know how it is, like, still had a lot of doubt. I’m like, “Hayden’s right there.”
iRunFar: Yeah. And this is further, you’re already 20 miles further than you’ve ever run before.
Peterman: Yeah, yeah. You’re like deep in it.
iRunFar: Did that ever play in your mind during the race?
Peterman: Oh, over and over again. Like, if I ever was like feeling good or felt like I was pushing too hard, I would say out loud to myself, I’d say like, “Dude. Mile 90 exists. Like you can’t forget that this exists. You’re not just going to like, magically make it to mile 90 and like be done.”
iRunFar: There’s an airport conveyor belt that just takes you there.
Peterman: Yeah, I don’t know. I just kept saying that to myself. But like I had to because yeah, it was a long, long day for me.
iRunFar: Did you ever have any hiccups aside from some low energy points, those last [miles]?
Peterman: Just a few low energy points. I think it’s so hard to eat once you get that hot.
iRunFar: And it’s hard to turn that around, isn’t it?
Peterman: Yeah. It’s hard to turn that around because by mile 90 everything doesn’t taste very good.
iRunFar: Yeah. Did you stop fueling at some point? More or less?
Peterman: At mile 98.
iRunFar: [laughs] That’s fair enough.
Peterman: But no, it was really special. Like I knew Hayden was close and we weren’t getting any updates like from Rucky Chucky to about Pointed Rocks. You know, we didn’t know where we were like ahead of him. And then my whole crew was at Pointed Rocks and they’re like, “Dude, you got 30 minutes.” And like yeah, that was really cool.
iRunFar: Was that nice, because you said you weren’t going to like try for a course record or anything, was it nice at 5+ miles to go to be able to go like, alright?
Peterman: It was nice to know like I can let my foot off the gas, so I don’t like actually blow up and like, I’ll get it.
iRunFar: A little like, buffer.
Peterman: Yeah, it was a really cool. Yeah, I’ll never forget my friend telling me that.
iRunFar: Awesome. Do you have a favorite memory from yesterday?
Peterman: I think that, yeah. I had like the best crew ever. Like I said, it was all my friends who live in Missoula. A lot of us are Hoka athletes now. Like we have almost a little team up there.
iRunFar: Right on.
Peterman: Which is really, really cool. And yeah, I just had a great crew. Like, I would say that moment at mile 94 when, like, they told me I had it. And then just running that last mile. Like, even my dad ran it with me, which is awesome. He runs hills but he doesn’t run roads. And so, he was just like, “I’m going so fast!”
Peterman: You know, we’re running at his pace.
iRunFar: That’s awesome. It’s funny, like I think of this and I’m sure a lot, everybody out there probably thinks of this, your race, in the context of you won Western States in a really fast time. But it was your first 100 miler.
Peterman: Yeah, it’s crazy. Like how does that play into like forming memories of this event? Like it’s pretty monumental for most people. Is it for you?
iRunFar: I mean, yeah, it totally is. Like, it’s crazy to just come here and like, do it, I guess. But it’s also like, I don’t know. I definitely like thought I could. I didn’t know. You never know but like I thought I had a chance. So, I wasn’t like, shocked. But like, yeah, I didn’t think it would happen on the first time. Yeah.
iRunFar: I don’t think I have to ask you whether you’ll be back. [laughs]
Peterman: Oh, yeah. I don’t know when I’ll be back. I don’t know when, maybe next year. But I always want to keep like, keep things fresh. Keep mixing up so I stay fresh.
iRunFar: Yeah. But you’re not swearing off Western States.
Peterman: No way.
iRunFar: You have goals here.
Peterman: Oh, man, I would love to run a fast time here. Yeah, because I’m happy with my time yesterday, but I feel like, yes, this is the first one. There’s more in the tank.
iRunFar: And it wasn’t a crazy hot day, but it was a warm day.
iRunFar: At the end you did have a half hour gap. So, it’s not like you’re, yeah. Got anything on the calendar for the rest of this year or the coming months?
Peterman: The next, I’m not going to run in July. I’m going to take a month off. Like, I never do stuff like that. And I need to respect the time.
iRunFar: That’s very wise of you.
Peterman: Just yeah, I mean, this year, it’s been Chuckanut [50k] and then Canyons 100k, then this and I kind of feel like that was really focused and I need to, I don’t want to overcook.
iRunFar: And those last two races were your two longest races ever at that point.
Peterman: Yeah, like what’s the end goal? Like here we go. Yeah. So yeah, I won’t run in July and then I’d love to run the World Mountain Running Championships that are in Thailand. I’d love to do the 40k.
iRunFar: Nice. Right on.
Peterman: Go back down to that distance.
iRunFar: That would be fun.
Peterman: It’s an application process so I’d have to get selected, but hopefully I get in since I won the Montreal Marathon the last three years. So, we’ll see. And then I’m even toying with the idea of running CIM [California International Marathon] to get an OTQ [Olympic Trials qualifier] for 2024 for the marathon, because I just want to keep it fresh and I want to keep my speed.
Peterman: That’s, I think that will be the key for me.
iRunFar: Right on. Well, congratulations on a great first 100 and congrats on the win, too.
Peterman: Yeah, thanks so much, Bryon.
iRunFar: And I’m not letting you off without a bonus question.
Peterman: Oh, fishing?
iRunFar: You’re taking a month off, is there going to be some wet wading involved?
Peterman: Yeah, plenty of fishing, oh yeah. My dad and I have a fishing trip planned in Montana, yeah. But there’s too much hiking, it needs to be in three weeks I think. Because I’m not, yeah.
iRunFar: Tell me a little bit about this.
Peterman: I think we’re just going to go into the Bob Marshall, it’s a big wilderness area, just east of Missoula.
iRunFar: Like, twenty mile hike in, or?
Peterman: Yeah, that’s why it needs to be in a few weeks, I’m not planning on doing this next week. Yeah, that’s what we’re talking about, going in there. So, it would be awesome.
iRunFar: Did I hear, during, were you talking fishing during the race with Hayden at all, or is that previous?
Peterman: We were, I was talking fishing with Hayden and hunting with Arlen. And yeah, hopefully other people weren’t annoyed, but we were just chatting.
iRunFar: But it’s fun, you’re doing this amazing thing and then, you’re just talking about other things in your life that are of interest.
Peterman: That’s what it’s about, yeah.
iRunFar: Right on.
Peterman: That’s some of the best parts.
iRunFar: Well I hope someday we get a chance to go fishing.
Peterman: Let’s do it.
iRunFar: Right on.
Peterman: I love it.