A few weeks after taking second at the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships in Zermatt, Switzerland, Andy Wacker took second this weekend at the US Mountain Running Championships. In the following interview, Andy talks about how his race played out, whether there might be a U.S. team strategy at the World Mountain Running Championships, and where he’ll be racing between now and then.
For more on how the race went down, read our 2015 US Mountain Running Championships results article.
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Andy Wacker Post-2015 US Mountain Running Championships Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Andy Wacker after his second place at the 2015 US Mountain Running Championships. Congratulations.
Andy Wacker: Thanks.
iRunFar: That was a very strong run today and a smart run. You and Pat Smyth and Joe Gray had a heck of a run out there.
Wacker: Yeah, it went really well. Actually, it’s funny that you used “smart” because I know how this goes. Two years ago in Cranmore, New Hampshire, coming out of college and thinking I was all cool, I got seventh which is one place off making the world team and almost did the same thing today where we went out really hard and was definitely kind of redlining it up the first climb. So, “smart” in a way, but it worked out luckily. Yeah, it was an interesting tactic that Pat and I and Joe ended up using.
iRunFar: Yeah, you guys ended up a minute-and-a-half up ahead of the rest of the field. You gapped them early. When did you end up passing—because you were in third for awhile—when did you end up passing Joe?
Wacker: Joe and I went back and forth. It was funny because Joe has won this event a couple times, and I know he’s a super-strong climber. He’s super strong on the downhill. He’s definitely a well-rounded runner. I was talking to him, “Joe, we’ve got to go get Pat.” We’d talked about it before the race, us Colorado guys grouping together. “We’re good on the uphill, and we’re good on the downhill. Let’s go after him.” We did, and it was kind of exciting. On the last climb, we all caught up to each other and were all basically neck and neck. Pat just really showed why he’s the national champ. He was the best at transitioning over the flatter top of the climb. Definitely once we hit the road, he got a couple more seconds. He had a great race.
iRunFar: You guys all were really close for quite awhile. What was it like racing for 46 minutes?
Wacker: Yeah, I think for me, I knew after that first climb that we were going to be on the team. We are going to be top six and that’s my goal. It’s all about the team and us doing well and getting the best Americans to Wales to compete. Once we were there, I was like, This is great. Pressure’s off. Let’s just get top six and let’s just do what we can. Again, I was talking to Pat and talking to Joe and just trying to get the best race we could and get ready for Wales.
iRunFar: It certainly seems like you guys are.
Wacker: Definitely. I think we’re going to have a super strong team, maybe the strongest ever. It’s exciting. That’s obviously such an honor to be a part of that to represent the U.S. at another world championships and go there. I just came off World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships.
Wacker: Yeah, in Zermatt.
iRunFar: How did that go for you?
Wacker: It went great. I loved getting second. I got a silver medal there. The legs felt a little bit tired today from running a marathon three weeks ago and racing since, but I think it was good because I felt… probably the downhill is my weakness. The last couple weeks I’ve been trying to work on that. I think it really came together today. I think I got a lot of room to improve before Wales, and I think that’s a good thing.
iRunFar: Will you train pretty specifically for that race?
Wacker: Yeah, so I’ve been doing a ton of stuff for a marathon uphill, and it’s funny, I was telling someone else today, “I live in Colorado. I know what to expect now. We’re going to be running up and down ski slopes. Let me go get out in the mountains. Let me go to Vail and Aspen and some of those places.” I was planning on getting out there five to 10 times in the last couple weeks. I got up there zero times so not quite as prepared as I want. I’m definitely going to focus on that between now and September for Wales. I know that’s going to help out just to get a little more sharp and race-specific. It went well today and I can’t complain.
iRunFar: If you and Joe and Pat are talking before a race like this, do you think you guys will form a team strategy at all for Wales or is it pretty much every man for himself?
Wacker: I would hope to. This event, mountain running, is somewhat like cross country where individual strengths and individual medals will help the team. Joe and I live relatively close. I’d love to get in some training with him, but it’s so hard. I don’t know if it’s going to happen or not. I’d love for that to happen. If nothing else, I know we’ll communicate over internet and things and get ready just to have the strongest team we can by training individually very hard and getting out on the ski slopes.
iRunFar: Do you have any other racing in between now and then?
Wacker: Yeah, I’ve got a lot of other stuff coming up. I love racing. I think it’s a great way to get sharp and to just keep it fun. It’s really hard racing year around and just focusing on only a couple events, so I love to have some filler races and whatnot. In a couple weeks, I’m doing the Pikes Peak Ascent which is a classic and amazing mountain race. Here it is, I’m going to debut in my first ultra. I’m doing the 50k US[ATF] Championships up just north of San Francisco in the Muir Woods and that area. I love that area. I can’t wait to do that. That’s going to be at the end of August.
iRunFar: End of August, your ultra debut. That’s coming up.
Wacker: Yes, I’ve got a couple longer races and then just getting ready to run this.
iRunFar: You’ve been doing this for awhile for someone of your age. You started out on the junior team, correct?
Wacker: No, I never made the junior team. I’ve been doing trail races basically since I’ve been a pro, so three years ago, but it’s really come together this year. I finally focused on the trails. I was like, I’m all over the place. I love running. Living in Boulder, Colorado, we have so many great trails. I’ve always wanted to do events like this since I started running even as a kid. I grew up in North Carolina, and I love soft surface. It’s fun to get out on the trails. I’m relatively new to the scene. This is my second US Mountain Running Championships.
iRunFar: What’s your background in running before that? Have you been a lifelong runner?
Wacker: I started in seventh grade, so I guess that’s lifelong enough. Yeah, I love doing everything. I’m a two-time cross-country All-American at CU, and I love running fast on the track. I have so many passions with running. Yeah, it’s definitely fun to… this summer I’ve been focusing on trails and getting out there and doing everything I can up and down mountains and off trail and on trail, jumping over rocks and having a blast with it.
iRunFar: Awesome. Well, congratulations on making the team, and good luck in Wales.
Wacker: Thank you.