The 2024 Hardrock 100 is history! Check out our in-depth results article for the full race story, as well as our interviews with champions Courtney Dauwalter and Ludovic Pommeret.

Hayden Hawks Post-2024 Western States 100 Interview

A video interview (with transcript) with Hayden Hawks after his third-place finish at the 2024 Western States 100.

By on July 1, 2024 | Comments

Hayden Hawks finished third at the 2024 Western States 100. In this interview, Hayden talks about how being fresh and rested after limited training ahead of the race may have helped him, how running with his friends as competitors helps to elevate his performance, his late race sprint finish with second-place Rod Farvard, and where this race sits in the growth of trail ultrarunning competitiveness.

For more on how the race played out, read our in-depth 2024 Western States 100 results article.

Hayden Hawks Post-2024 Western States 100 Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Hayden Hawks. It’s the day after the 2024 Western States Endurance Run. Congratulations on your third-place finish.

Hayden Hawks: Thank you. I feel really happy about it, especially not knowing if I was going to be here a few weeks ago and, to be able to come out with a podium finish, couldn’t ask for anything more.

iRunFar: So to backtrack just a teensy bit. You had a great race at Black Canyon 100k in February, but I learned recently you got injured after that. What happened?

Hawks: Yeah, I strained my calf pretty bad after Black Canyon and that led to some compensation injuries. So yeah, I had to take off a significant period of time, I was trying to train but it was not happening. Probably like six to eight weeks. And I think it was 10 weeks ago, I finally started feeling somewhat healthy. But I knew that I would have to have like two weeks of buildup and then maybe have an eight-week training block. And I talked to my coach about it said, “You think we can do it? You think we can get fit enough to at least, you know, compete?” And he’s like, “Yeah, I think we can.” And we did the best we could. It was a very compact block. But I was able to do what I needed to do to get a podium yesterday.

iRunFar: You said in your pre-race interview that there is something that you’re learning through time and with more experience in ultrarunning that you just don’t need the crazy volume, or just the grinding super hard workouts every day. I feel like this performance is a categorical example of practicing what you preach there, right?

Hawks: Yeah, I think Black Canyon was the first example of that, that I didn’t need as much, maybe as long of a block of training as I thought I did. I would have liked a little bit more. I would have liked some base, because I felt like I was just rushing to get fitness, and to be able to have a little bit of base would have been nice. But I think during that base phase, I could have just kept it really easy. While in the past I was doing these long 16-20 week training blocks of just pretty good intensity. Like workouts, big long runs, different things like that. And now I’m realizing that I can just kind of maintain during these periods of time, build some base, and then actually have an 8-10 week block and that’s really all I need. And I come into the race fresh, healthy, ready to go.

iRunFar: So let’s talk a little bit about how yesterday went. It was, from the outside looking in, just continuously dynamic start to finish. Is that how it also felt to be in the race?

Hawks: Yeah, it was crazy. I mean, it was awesome to see this whole race going on, because I think me and Jim [Walmsley] were just talking about this. It’s like we’ve never had that many people so close together.

iRunFar: So late in the race.

Hawks: Yeah, so late in the race. And I think it was at Devil’s Thumb I remember me and Jim were at the top of the climb, and I looked down, and there were like six of us on the climb. And I’ve never seen that many people at once on that climb. And then I went into I think it was Michigan Bluff or Foresthill. And there was a part where I felt like the race was maybe getting away from me. But then I went in and they were like, there’s six guys within five minutes of each other. And I was like, “Really?”

iRunFar: The race has not gone on at all.

Hawks: No, we’re still only halfway. You know, there’s plenty of movement that can still go on and so I just kept fighting, kept positive kept, staying on top of everything I needed to. And I started catching some people and it worked out pretty well.

iRunFar: You said off camera that your low patch came sort of in the vicinity of like Michigan Bluff, Foresthill, and then you were able to get yourself back together after that. Could you walk us through that part?

Hawks: Yeah, actually a little before that, like Devil’s Thumb. Me, Jim, and Dan Jones went down together into Devil’s Thumb. And then we were climbing up and Jim put in a big push, I think Dakota [Jones] had caught us at the bottom of the climb too, or the bottom the descent. And he put up a pretty big push in. And I was like, you know, I can climb with Jim.

iRunFar: Sure.Hawks: I’ve trained with him before and I can do this, but I think my climbing hasn’t been quite where it needs to be, just

because maybe I didn’t have as long of a block, or the training I needed to. But I went with Jim, but then he broke me near the top. And I felt like I maybe pushed a little too hard. Because the descent going down into El Dorado, I was I feeling it pretty good. But Dakota and Rod Farvard passed me going down into El Dorado and they were like, “Are you okay?” And I said, “Yeah, I’m just trying to regroup.” I just needed some time to regroup. I think that was smart. Like the past me maybe would have tried to push that. But I just kind of regrouped, refueled, and started feeling good coming out of El Dorado and then just kept progressing after that.iRunFar: You said that somewhere in one of those two sort

of bigger aid stations, you felt like oh, is the race getting away from me? But then there’s a bunch of guys there, and it occurred to you the race is right around you. Did it feel like, I don’t know, going down Cal Street, at the river,  did you feel like. okay, I’m back at it now? I’m here to race.

Hawks: Yeah. I started feeling really good coming down Cal Street. I had an amazing crew stop at Foresthill. Things went really well. I was able to take care of myself like I needed to. And I start feeling really good. And I saw Dan was pretty close behind me. I could see him. I knew Jon Albon was really close, too. And I’ve raced Jon before. He’s an incredible descender. So I was a little nervous.

iRunFar: What’s going to happen?

Hawks: Jon’s probably going to catch me on this downhill.

iRunFar: You have your training partner behind you. Jon Albon behind you.

Hawks: Exactly. But then I could see Dakota. He wasn’t too far ahead of me.

iRunFar: Yeah.

Hawks: And, I was just like, just try and work on catching one at a time. I caught Dakota. I actually was able to get past him pretty quickly. We actually talked and I was like, “Dude, come with me. Come on, let’s go.” Because I knew if we weren’t together, we would fail to be stronger. But he was, I think he was feeling it quite a bit. Yeah, I had a really good descent down to the river. And then I just kind of kept going from there. I think from the river to the finish I ran it in 3 hours in 10 minutes, which, to my knowledge is one of the fastest times ever from the river to the finish, if not the fastest. And so I felt really strong through that section. Maybe that was because I was hunting. I was trying to catch Rod, you know, and that definitely motivated me.

iRunFar: Side note for a minute. Isn’t ultrarunning weird of how bad you can feel for a certain set of real estate, and then how you can come back? It’s just this part of running is so unique how the tables can turn so completely.

Hawks: Oh, yeah. Yeah, because I think it was going into Foresthill I was like, my quads are pretty trashed. I don’t know how I’m going to feel on this downhill going down Cal Street, but then all of a sudden the legs came back and I started like moving really well, and descending really fast and I was like, okay. That’s weird.

iRunFar: Like, here we go.

Hawks: Body just completely changed, you know, and it was great. Yeah, I was able to finish really strong, which I was really happy about.

iRunFar: You finished so strong. I mean, let’s talk about that right now. You, I think, cut 10 minutes into second-place Rod Farvard’s time between Green Gate and the finish, and got, was it 16 seconds from him ultimately at the finish line? To what degree were you hunting? Were you hunting hard?

Hawks: It was hunting till Pointed Rocks, because I kept hearing he was not too far ahead. And then and I think Hal Koerner actually gave me maybe some misinformation.

iRunFar: Questionable beta.

Hawks: He said he was like two minutes ahead. And I was like, wow, let’s go. Like he’s only two minutes ahead! But I think it was a lot bigger than that.

iRunFar: I think he was trying to motivate me. But then I went into Pointed Rocks and I heard that he had a pretty good lead. And I kind of at that point, I asked my crew, I said, “Well, how far is Dan?” Because I knew Dan was behind me. I said like, “How far back is he?” And he was only like three minutes, maybe four minutes behind me. And I was like, “Oh, I gotta go.”

iRunFar: So, you were starting to worry about Dan rather than Rod.

Hawks: Yeah. I wasn’t even worried about Rod. I just wanted to secure the podium. I want to secure that third-place position. So I was like, I’m going to push from Pointed Rocks to the finish so I can secure and not let Dan pass me. But I ended up catching Rod. So.

iRunFar: Yeah, you totally bridged that gap.

Hawks: Yeah.

iRunFar: I mean, at Robie Point Rod told us that he looked back and saw like, the white clad crew of Hayden Hawks coming and he just felt the fear of God basically.

Hawks: At the bottom of Robie Point, I asked the guys I said, “How far is he?” He’s like, “Oh, he’s gone. You don’t need to worry about him.”

iRunFar: You’re not getting good beta from anyone, are you?

Hawks: Aw, shoot. I thought I was closer. And then I got to the top of Robie Point looked and I saw him. And I was like, “Oh, he’s there!” And I was like, “Well, I gotta try!”

iRunFar: Yeah.

Hawks: And so I just started hammering and I had my crew around me and they were encouraging me. We were just pushing, and I kind of told everyone like, “Shh, be quiet. Be quiet.” Because he hadn’t heard me. He didn’t know I was there. And then like, I think Tim Tollefson turned around, who was pacing him and he was like, “Oh, you gotta go!” And I saw him pick it up. And I was like, oh, shoot, that might have been it. You know, but I still was going to try my hardest. And yeah, it ended up becoming a sprint on the track, which was awesome.

iRunFar: You got to use your high school and collegiate racing background.

Hawks: The Olympic Trials are going on in Oregon right now. Maybe I should have been there. [laughs] I’m just kidding. No, it was fun. I was just like, there’s no better way to finish. Especially with Rod. Me and Rob did training camp together. We’re really good friends. At training camp actually, me and Rod turned to each other after the long day, and we said, “This is going to be our year.” And when we finished and we you know, we embraced. Rod turned to me and he said, “It was our year! We called this. We called this.” And I was like, “We sure did, man. Like, way to go.”

iRunFar: I mean, you got a teensy bit of heat before the race in your interview with the Singletrack Podcast for saying, you know, we’re really good friends with people when we train, but then on race day, we’re racing. But I think what yesterday showed is that when you have that personal rapport with the people who are around you, Dan Jones behind you, your training partner, you’ve trained with Rod Farvard in front of you, knowing the people around you actually allows all of you to elevate yourselves.

Hawks: Yeah. Well, we’ve talked how there’s no greater respect you can give to somebody than to push them and to make them better. And so that’s what we’re trying to do is, we’re friends, Like we’re super good friends, and we talk to each other all the time. I’ve actually helped Rod with his nutrition, which then he beats me with that. No. [laughs]

iRunFar: Thanks, Rod.

Hawks: But we’ve talked about this all the time is we’re super good friends outside of racing, but when we’re racing, we want to get the best out of each other, and that’s the ultimate form of friendship and respect that we can give. And that’s what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to grow the sport, elevate the sport. We wanted to put on a show for people, and I feel like we did.

iRunFar: A big picture question, like, zooming out on the sport of trail ultrarunning a little bit. You’ve been a part of this for over a decade now. You’ve seen things evolving in front of your eyes. In my mind yesterday, a 100-mile race ran like a 50-mile race, like The North Face Endurance Challenge circa 2015. Something like that. What’s your synthesis of like, where the sport has been, where it is now, and where we think it’s going?
Hawks: Isn’t it awesome? I love it, man. I love it. Wouldn’t have it any other way. I think the sport’s only going to grow and elevate. I think a lot of brands, you know, Hoka is my sponsor, of course, they are really supporting us as athletes. And they’re really trying to help grow the sport and build the sport, which helps a lot for us to get that support and have that help to be able to be full-time professional athletes. And that’s only going to grow the sport even more. I think there’s a lot of excitement around the sport. I think you know, you guys, the media is doing a great job of covering the sport. Which I can’t thank you enough for that.

iRunFar: You guys are the ones who make the story.

Hawks: But it all helps, and I think that it’s just an exciting time for the sport right now. And I’m really happy that I’m in the middle of it, you know. And I’m trying to help pioneer it and be a good advocate for it, and just try to be a good person and grow the sport as much as possible.

iRunFar: Final question for you before you go to the award ceremony to collect that silver buckle. Finishing in the top 10 position affords you with an automatic entry to come back next year. Your sponsor Hoka just announced it’s continuing its presenting sponsorship of Western States. Are we going to see you again on next year’s starting line or do you sometime in the future hope to be here again?

Hawks: I’ll be back next year.

iRunFar: Okay. It’s already done.

Hawks: Yeah, I mean, I ran 14:24 yesterday, which on most years that would win, you know. And I finished third, which I’m happy with, but yeah, I’m not completely content. I would still want that first place you know. I’m still going to fight for it. I’ve been second. I’ve been third. So I just got to get that last podium spot. And I love this race. I love the community. I love having my friends and family here. And yeah, I’m definitely going to come back and yeah, have another good year.

iRunFar: Awesome. Congratulations to you on your third-place finish at the 2024 Western States Endurance Run. We look forward to seeing you chase that cougar next year.

Hawks: Thank you.

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.