Anthony Costales Pre-2023 Western States 100 Interview

A video interview (with transcript) with Anthony Costales before the 2023 Western States 100.

By on June 21, 2023 | Comments

After a couple attempts to get to this race in the past, Anthony Costales is running the 2023 Western States 100. In the following interview, Anthony walks us through his multi-year process of getting to the starting line of this race, why he’s choosing to run Western States, and how he thinks the men’s race story is wide open.

For more on who’s racing, check out our in-depth men’s and women’s previews. Follow along with our WS 100 live race coverage on Saturday.

Anthony Costales Pre-2023 Western States 100 Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Anthony Costales. It’s a couple of days before the 2023 Western States 100. Hi, Anthony.

Anthony Costales: Hi, Meghan. How’s it going?

iRunFar: Good. How are you doing?

Costales: Feeling pretty good, and it’s a little chilly out here, surprisingly.

iRunFar: Everybody’s been training for altitude and snow and heat. And we have two of those variables right now, right?

Costales: Yes.

iRunFar: Alright. So, you qualified for this race at Black Canyon [100k] this year. Talk about, right? At Black Canyon?

Costales: Yeah.

iRunFar: Sorry. Talk about what’s happened for you in sort of the four months since then, correct?

Costales: Not too much has changed since.

iRunFar: Okay.

Costales: I just had a really good race, and then had some ideas, going to one or two like, going to maybe like 50ks in between. But kind of changed it up. Rather than doing, came here to the Western States camp and kind of more did kind of my own mini camps instead of racing.

Costales: Okay.

iRunFar: What has made you want to do Western States? You’ve run 100 miles before, and I think did you try to get into Western States in a prior year? Tried to get a Golden Ticket maybe?

Costales: Yeah. In 2021, I did Canyons 100k, and then got a Golden Ticket there. And then got snagged up with some injuries pretty quickly after. And then the next year, came to Black Canyon kind of thinking of a Golden Ticket maybe a little too much.

iRunFar: Okay.

Costales: And then just kind of had an off day that day. And yeah, I ended up, I didn’t want to Golden Ticket chase so I just kind of stopped it from there. I changed up my season.

iRunFar: Okay. What makes you want to race a race like Western States? What draws you here?

Costales: I mean, you guys are here.

iRunFar: [laughs]

Costales: Everyone, the media, that it’s the thing to do, I guess. Mostly competition. It’s obviously an historical race. And personally, there’s a couple cool things. Like I grew up only about an hour away from Auburn. So, kind of have a little bit of history of going there, like in high school. I did Junior College right down the street from there.

iRunFar: Oh, is that right?

Costales: Yeah. American River Junior College. So we would have runs up there on Saturdays. So a little history on that is a fun, but I mean, it’s mostly competition and the depth of field.

iRunFar: So did you grow up knowing about the Western States Trail and the Tevis Cup and stuff?

Costales: Yes, I did. When I was a sophomore in high school. My high school coach took us, actually one of the trailheads, and took us on like a real trip. Like a real trail, not just local city park kind of trail.

iRunFar: Yeah.

Costales: That was kind of the first experience. And he talked about Western States, and maybe didn’t give all the right facts, but it was,

iRunFar: You learned about it.

Costales: We learned about it, and learned that people run 100 miles, and pretty much all on dirt, and I thought that was really interesting and cool. And being there was fun.

iRunFar: Maybe this is my sort of like miscategorization of you, but for some reason, I think of you as like a 50-mile type of runner. The 100-mile distance, I think you’ve done it.

Costales: Yes.

iRunFar: You have you started once and finished once right? Where does the 100-mile distance sort of like, sit with you mentally, psychologically?

Costales: You know, one time I did it was in 2021. I was Run Rabbit Run, and people asked me how I felt. It was different, and after it was all over, I didn’t really feel like it was much different than the 100k.

iRunFar: Really?

Costales: Other than running through the entire night. But the actual more time out there. It didn’t really get to me. It was just a little bit longer. But it wasn’t as different as I thought it was going to be.

iRunFar: Okay. That’s really interesting. Because a lot of people say it’s such a big jump, to go from 60 miles to 100 miles. But not for your body, not for your mind.

Costales: I mean it was that one time, so I can’t say.

iRunFar: [laughs]

Costales: I can’t say it’s going to be like that every time.

iRunFar: Okay, fair enough.

Costales: Yeah, the last 20 miles was very hard that day. I felt like it was like any other race that kind of was going a little bit sideways toward then. And just kind of got damage control and figured it out. It just took a little bit more time, I guess.

iRunFar: But I think you had a good race. You podiumed then, at Run Rabbit, right?

Costales: Yeah, I took second after Dave Stevens. Yeah, he just put it on me. I mean, it was, the last 20 I was more like running scared.

iRunFar: Surviving.

Costales: Yeah, surviving.

iRunFar: So you have one 100-mile finish under your belt and lots of stuff in that 50k, 100k distance. How are you going into this one psychologically?

Costales: I’ve just been trying not to think of it as much as anything else. Everyone’s asking how much different the training has been. There’s been a couple of things I’ve implemented, but for the most part, just trying to keep it simple as I kind of always have for the past, you know, many years. And yeah, that’s all I’m going to say about that. Like, don’t do too much. Kind of hit every box, but you don’t got to overdo it

iRunFar: And don’t overthink it. I think I hear you say there.

Costales: Yeah, don’t overthink it. Western States is an awesome race itself, but just go into it, just thinking of it just as a race, not Western States so much.

iRunFar: Yeah. Not like this big iconic thing that it’s kind of built into, right?

Costales: Yeah.

iRunFar: How do you see this men’s race going? I feel like there’s like a couple of different race stories that could play out.

Costales: Yeah, the men’s story is pretty fun, because I feel like nobody really knows what’s going on on it.

iRunFar: [laughs] I’m glad I’m not alone!

Costales: And we were talking just with friends about it this past couple of days. And we’re saying how there’s no real leader like Jim [Walmsley] has been in the past couple years. No one really has somebody that we’re keying off of. So, which can be interesting. We don’t really know what’s going to happen.

iRunFar: Yeah, looking around at each other.

Costales: Yeah, looking around, or who just went out in front, or what you guys are out there while we’re back here. It’s going to be, we’re not going to know till a few miles into the race or 30 miles into the race.

iRunFar: Or 80 miles into the race.

Costales: Or 80 miles, yeah. That’d be fun.

iRunFar: You came out for the Memorial Day training camp, is that right?

Costales: Yes. I did.

iRunFar: So what were your, was that your first time like really running a bunch of miles on the course?

Costales: I did, most of the first day was Canyons, had a lot to do with Canyons.

iRunFar: Sorry, I forgot.

Costales: That’s okay. Then you know, a lot of it was things I’m familiar with, like the whole Auburn Lakes I knew. I was telling people about the trail, I felt like.

iRunFar: You’re the tour guide.

Costales: Yeah, tour guide, I felt like even though I’ve never run the race.

iRunFar: [laughs] Did you have any, I don’t know, just thoughts. Because you ran the training camp was 70 miles of the course, right?

Costales: Mm hmm.

iRunFar: Yeah. I mean, that’s a lot of real estate on what you’re going to see again on Saturday. What were you thinking about sort of course wise during that time?

Costales: I thought one of the things about training camp, it’s so fun. Because you’re running with people you haven’t seen, or people you usually race against that you actually can conversate with a little bit more. And it’s, one of the things is it’s kind of hard to actually focus up on, and actually see what you’re actually going to do. I remember on a little bit in the training camp I’m like, oh, I need to pay attention a little bit.

iRunFar: Try to actually absorb.

Costales: Absorb some of the things that’s going on.

iRunFar: Not just absorb some of the things you’re talking about.

Costales: Exactly. Or like kind of forget the conversation you’re in. But yeah, from Robinson Flat pretty much all the way down to the river, it was just kind of interesting to see that long, long descent of a downhill. And we don’t really get those in Salt Lake, so that was kind of good to feel out.

iRunFar: Real runnable and goes on forever, right? Yeah.

Costales: Exactly.

iRunFar: Like Salt Lake’s, the Wasatch kind of nose dives down, doesn’t it?

Costales: Yeah. It’s pretty much you go up a few thousand feet over only a couple miles and then do the same thing, go down.

iRunFar: So the runnable downs are something that you took note of.

Costales: Yeah, definitely took note of that and just kind of thought about a little bit more.

iRunFar: Since you come from not far away, are you going to have family, friends, like former teammates, coaches, etc. around on the weekend?

Costales: Yeah, pretty much my crew is going to be Gary Towne, which is the Chico State Coach and then also really good friends of mine, but my old roommates from Chico State. And then my wife, and then parents will be here, because they’re right down the street. And there’s quite a few other people who have just kind of mentioned they’re going to try to show up as well.

iRunFar: Awesome. Well, best of luck to you on Saturday. It’ll be fun to see you make the journey from here to there.

Costales: Alright. Thank you, Meghan.

Meghan Hicks

Meghan Hicks is the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar. She’s been running since she was 13 years old, and writing and editing about the sport for around 15 years. She served as iRunFar’s Managing Editor from 2013 through mid-2023, when she stepped into the role of Editor-in-Chief. Aside from iRunFar, Meghan has worked in communications and education in several of America’s national parks, was a contributing editor for Trail Runner magazine, and served as a columnist at Marathon & Beyond. She’s the co-author of Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running with Bryon Powell. She won the 2013 Marathon des Sables, finished on the podium of the Hardrock 100 Mile in 2021, and has previously set fastest known times on the Nolan’s 14 mountain running route in 2016 and 2020. Based part-time in Moab, Utah and Silverton, Colorado, Meghan also enjoys reading, biking, backpacking, and watching sunsets.