While David Sinclair might be best known for his shorter-distance mountain running, his second place at the 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k shows his competitive diversity. In our first interview with him, David gives us the blow-by-blow of his all-race duel with Adam Peterman, the experience of sharing his Western States 100 Golden Ticket with fourth-place Rod Farvard, and where else we’ll see David compete in 2022.
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.
David Sinclair Post-2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with David Sinclair, the second-place finisher of the 2021 Canyons Endurance Runs by UTMB 100k. Hey, David.
David Sinclair: Hi, Meghan. Thanks for being out there and covering the race today.
iRunFar: Yeah. That was really fun. We usually try to do these interviews in person, but you live over the pass in the Sierra Nevada and you went home and scrubbed the poison oak off your legs after the race.
Sinclair: Yeah. I’m pretty beat up and wanted to get home and shower.
iRunFar: When you live that close, I would go too.
Sinclair: Yeah, it’s pretty nice to have it right in the backyard there.
iRunFar: Yeah. You had a heck of a race today. How do you feel about it?
Sinclair: I’m pretty ecstatic at how it went. It’s always tough moving up in distance. I’d never raced over six and a half hours and 50 miles before. So, this was the most vert and just the hardest, most competitive ultra I’d been in. So I was really psyched when I ran strong pretty much the whole way.
We were running well under course record pace the whole first two-thirds of the race. And I kept thinking, I know this is going to catch up with me eventually. And it did right about halfway up the Deadwood climb. I started tightening up and had a couple little dark miles as I was thinking maybe I’m going to cramp up and have to just walk it all the way in. But I was able to hang on pretty well.
iRunFar: So, talk a little bit about the beginning of the race. It’s one of those dark starts flying off the line, flying through the early morning type thing and the terrain is pretty runnable early. So maybe give us the rundown of the first 15 or 20 miles.
Sinclair: It was just a huge group, but right from the start 20, 25 guys … Doing six-minute miles out there and it’s just pretty runnable, gradual downhill, that first four. And so my original game plan was to hold back and be patient, but I was feeling pretty good, so I found myself never too far off the front. Feeling good, trying to keep it in check a little bit. So it was a fun, big pack.
A few people were getting ahead on the climbs and I find I’m a pretty good downhill runner, so I kept getting a little behind on the early climbs and working my way back up on the rolling and gradual downhills. But it felt just really comfortable.
It was fun to run in a group and just an absolutely gorgeous morning with the cool weather and nice fog. It’s cool as you get up above the river to look down. So, just really fun running through Drivers Flat there.
iRunFar: I’m really glad you got to see that scene because for us spectators, that fog in the American River Valley, and the sunrise, and the moon, were just unreal this morning.
Sinclair: Yeah. I couldn’t ask for a better day for a race. The rain down there actually made it really nice, runnable. It didn’t seem too muddy at all, and just crisp and cool, which was the nice thing for me. Because I … living up in Truckee, I don’t think I had maybe three runs that have been above 60 degrees so far this year. So it was a real blessing to have it be a nice, cool day.
iRunFar: Awesome. I think there was still a pack of five or six of you guys at Cal 2, 24 miles into the race, but then things really splintered on the climb up to Foresthill. Can you talk about that part from your point of view?
Sinclair: Yeah, it was a pretty close pack and I was running … I found myself in the front through Drivers Flat, running with Adam Peterman and I think it was Daniel [Jones] from New Zealand. And Adam was feeling good, so I let him do most of the leading and took the lead a couple of times on some of the hills where I was feeling good. I was saying, “Why not?”
At that point, I still felt really good, let’s see what we can do. And we, working together, finally opened up a gap there into Foresthill. And I pushed right through without stopping at the aid station Foresthill, and finally found myself in the lead for a little bit. So down to the river crossing there, I could see Adam was just 30 seconds behind me.
Sinclair: And so, I pushed it up to Michigan Bluff and got a little bit of a lead there. And then finally about mile 40 coming to the Deadwood aid station, I started just tightening up and I look back and there’s Adam again. And I go, “Oh no. There goes my shot at the win.” And he came just flying by me. So that was the darkest patch of the race there, the climb past the Deadwood aid station.
We hit snow for the first time and it was sloppy for a mile. And then I finally got a second wind on the way down, but I was really hurting the last 12 miles. So, luckily I had stashed some trekking poles in my drop bag at the Deadwood aid station.
And with the legs on the edge, I grabbed those trekking poles and just tried to use my arms as much as I could to get up the last nine-mile climb, which just felt like it kept going on and on. And I had no idea, I kept getting splits that I was 5, 8, 10 minutes back on Adam. And I was like, “Okay, just keep on moving and try to hold on to second.”
iRunFar: And it never became an issue of anybody behind you. Nobody ever … Jared didn’t get close, I don’t think.
Sinclair: He was pretty close at the end there. I was never really getting any good splits. So I had no idea how close he was.
iRunFar: You were running a little scared or …
Sinclair: I was just running as far as I could without… The last four miles there, back in the slush, it was these icy cold puddles and your tight legs. So, the icy cold water, you’re like, “How hard can I go without making my legs totally seize up?” So, I never really looked back.
I just kept my head down and kept using my arm as much as I could to get to the finish and kept getting, “Okay, it’s two miles to finish. I think I can do this. I think I can do this.” And then, it felt like it was a minute or two and he came across and I was like, “Oh, that was closer than I realized.” If there was much further, I think he would’ve had me.
iRunFar: Interesting. A lot of people came to this race in search of a Golden Ticket, but there was a really cool moment at the finish line where you demurred a little bit about the ticket and then you handed it over to fourth-place finisher Rod Farvard. So, you were not seeking a Golden Ticket at this race; you were here for other things.
Sinclair: I mostly wanted to do it because it’s in my backyard, it’s such a cool, competitive race. To get a little experience moving up to a 100k and try it out was my main goal. And I knew that I had a shot at the top three and I was like, “Oh, it’s tempting.”
I definitely want to run in Western States in the future, but I’m already planning to try to run the Broken Arrow races, even closer to my backyard, three miles down the road. And maybe going to try to go to Europe and run Marathon du Mont-Blanc. So, I’ve got a bunch of cool things on the calendar.
So, I think Western States will have to wait. And so, when I saw Rod come across the finish line having an awesome race … I think he’d passed one or two people on the final climb to move up into fourth and he’s really wanting to run Western States.
So when I saw that I was like, “This is the right thing to do. I don’t need to go home and think about it for two weeks.” And it’s the right decision for me to wait. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll be able to get into Western States and give it a real shot.
iRunFar: That was a really cool moment. It was a win-win for everybody and it was really fun to spectate that type of thing. You don’t always get to see that type of interaction. That was really cool.
Sinclair: Yeah. As soon as I did it, I knew it was the right call to see the smile and the joy in his face. So, I was … based on how I felt coming across the finish line, I was like, “40 more miles plus.” I’m not someone who likes the heat, so I don’t know. Yeah. But good luck to Rod. I’ll be rooting for him.
iRunFar: That’s awesome. Last question for you. You said instead of States, your 2022 is going to include the Broken Arrow races, Marathon du Mont-Blanc. What else are you going to do this year?
Sinclair: Yeah, everything’s a little up in the air. Kind of depends how the legs come around and how everything is feeling. I might do the Speedgoat in July; it’s one of my favorite real mountain races, so signed up for that. And then I’ll probably try to finish the three races out of the Golden Trail Series. So, since there are two in the US this year, that’s a great opportunity.
So, I’m going to try to do the Pikes Peak ascent and then the race down in Flagstaff, Sky Peaks. So those are the big ones on my agenda. Might apply or try to see if I get a spot on the World’s [World Mountain & Trail Running Championships] team too.
iRunFar: Right on. You got a busy year.
Sinclair: Yeah. So lots of races on the calendar. So, there are lots of great races to do.
iRunFar: Plenty to do. Well, congratulations on your second-place finish at Canyon’s 100k today. That was really fun to watch.
Sinclair: Thanks so much, Meghan.