Let it not be lost that Jared Hazen ran the second-fastest time in Western States 100 history this weekend. In the following interview, Jared talks about how his strengths match up against Jim Walmsley’s, what his future goals at Western States are, and how he benefits from a wealth of ultrarunning experience at a young age.
Jared Hazen Post-2019 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Jared Hazen after his second-place finish the 2019 Western States 100. Congratulations Jared.
Jared Hazen: Thank you, Bryon.
iRunFar: Holy crap that was a fast time.
Hazen: Yeah, incredible, I mean it’s a pretty special day out there.
iRunFar: What was your wildest dream coming into this race?
Hazen: I mean really I said before the race that I really wanted to try to win and put myself into a position to win and I felt like I did that pretty well yesterday. You’re racing a guy like Jim Walmsley and try really hard, all day it was 8-to-10-minute lead he had on me and despite anything I tried it was always eight minutes, 10 minutes. I tried to run harder, it never seemed to shrink.
iRunFar: It goes down to 8:30.
Hazen: Yeah, so it was tough, I’m really proud of how I ran and I just, yeah, you can’t ask for much more.
iRunFar: I mean you broke the old course record, which as of last year was mind blowing.
Hazen: Yeah, exactly.
iRunFar: Did you have any sort of time in your mind?
Hazen: I definitely thought that I could run under 15 hours and when the weather was what it was yesterday, I figured things would be fast. I don’t know if I necessarily thought that 14:26 was going to happen. I was thinking somewhere at least in that realm.
iRunFar: And how through the day, once you get going once you are past Robinson Flat, how are you balancing trying to race Jim and trying to run your own really good race without just trying to race Jim?
Hazen: I think it was a little helpful to be, to not be right with Jim, because I was able to do my own thing and take advantage of the sections I wanted to take advantage of and kind of chop time where I wanted to where I think a lot of times I was probably going through aid stations maybe a little faster and maybe Jim was running some of the sections faster. I was definitely doing my own thing. I knew I had to stay on it because I knew Jim was not going to be running slow or giving up time to make, so I was staying on the gas but doing it the way I wanted to do it.
iRunFar: Was there any point that there was enough daylight coming through the crack in the door that you thought maybe, once you were 50 miles in or something?
Hazen: Yeah, I mean I was really optimistic, anything can happen in the second half of 100-mile race and to consistently be getting that eight to 10 minutes like it wasn’t ever really getting that much bigger. Just totally had hope of even going into the last twenty like, anything can happen here.
iRunFar: You train with Jim, you live with Jim, you train with him a bunch I’m assuming. Do you know where you actually have strengths that at least match well with him or you are better at?
Hazen: I would say Jim’s probably a much stronger climber than I am, but as far as just flat runnable trail and downhill stuff, I think I’m more on par. He’s definitely even got way more leg speed and very fast on road stuff, but I think just getting on a standard trail, throwing in those variables we get a little more even. And, then, I think my biggest strength in general is being a strong runner and being able to close well and so that’s kind of where I was very hopeful in the last 20 of maybe I have something here.
iRunFar: Yeah, I mean you’re only 24 right?
iRunFar: So you have more, at least years wise, more 100-mile experience than Jim does right?
Hazen: That’s true, I do yeah, been doing it a little longer.
iRunFar: Do you think that experience paid off? I mean it’s kind of a rare combination to be your age going into peak endurance years…
Hazen: With experience, yeah it’s interesting I mean it’s been four years since the last time I ran it so in some ways it’s like I haven’t done this in a while but totally just like, I remember what it’s like and kind of the mentality that you have to have in just the right attitude and whatnot. So yeah, I think I definitely wasn’t worried about blowing it, of making rookie mistakes and I felt like I knew what I was doing.
iRunFar: Right on, so there was no concern from that lack of recency in the hundred-mile distance. So you’ve run 14:26 here it was great conditions, do you think if there was another great day here you could lop some more time off?
Hazen: Yeah, I mean I think so. Just being young I think you just get better by getting older. You train consistently, you get a year older and it’s like you’re a better runner the next year.
iRunFar: And you feel like that’s gone on?
Hazen: Yeah. I think that’s continuing you know I’m finding new boundaries all the time and so I think there’s more time, more time to be cut off here for me.
iRunFar: Is that going to be – that sounds like you want to come back to Western States and try to lop some more time off?
Hazen: Yeah. I mean I want to come back for sure, maybe likely next year, likely I want to come back next year. Getting the win, it just depends on the conditions. It’s so variable here from year to year, there’s snow, its heat, whatever. It’s tough to really have your head on the time from year to year.
iRunFar: But winning is winning. And that’s on your mind?
Hazen: Yeah, exactly. That’s totally on my mind.
iRunFar: Did it ever go through your mind during the race that Jim had a year where he was hitting it out of the park and then wasn’t?
Hazen: Yeah, well yeah.
iRunFar: As a concept.
Hazen: It could be, I could pass him walking any minute now, who knows?
iRunFar: It’s not like you’re feeling defeated or something out there?
Hazen: I was staying really optimistic, totally had my head in the game and still pressing as hard as I could. I would say really all the way to the finish because once I hit Quarry Road I heard 14 minutes. I felt it was an accurate split and I was like, it’s unlikely I’m catching Jim at this point, but even then I’m looking at my watch knowing that I can go under his course record from last year and so that was a nice thing to keep me chasing the last 10 miles.
iRunFar: So am I correct that you didn’t have a pacer out there?
Hazen: I didn’t, no.
iRunFar: What was the thinking behind my choice?
Hazen: I just do well by myself, I enjoy training by myself. I like training with the guys too, but for me I totally just pull a lot of strengths from going inwards and kind of just focusing on what I’m doing and not having somebody else kind of distracting.
iRunFar: Now when you’re looking inwards I know there’s some people that like to focus on the darkness or the suffering, where do you go or where do you like?
Hazen: I think for me and yesterday I told myself a lot, we’re just, I’m living right here like this is in this moment right now, just not really thinking too much and just kind of experiencing what I was going through.
iRunFar: So not a label it a philosophy but just like a zen, just there.
Hazen: Yeah, exactly.
iRunFar: Letting it be. What else are you looking at this year?
Hazen: So I don’t really have anything on the schedule yet. I will definitely pick some stuff up later in the year and probably in the fall I will either be at JFK or The North Face 50. But there will definitely be something between now and then.
iRunFar: Yeah, just wait and see?
Hazen: Figure it out, yeah.
iRunFar: So yesterday was a day of some variable conditions. Ground-wise in terms of snow, I’m assuming there was some wet trail early on.
Hazen: Yeah, the high country wasn’t too bad, the snow was pretty hard packed, a little wet but yeah not too bad. I think the snow slowed things down a little in the high country.
iRunFar: What shoes and running socks did you go with?
Hazen: I was wearing Speedgoat Evo, it’s an innovation shoe but I believe is coming out in the fall. So they are really good, very breathable, they let water in and out so easy. So it’s good to not have sopping shoes. And then wearing the Drymax, like Max Protection Hyper Thin I think is what they’re called.
iRunFar: Extra Protection, that’s like the one Walmsley I know wore last year I believe.
Hazen: Yeah. It’s the same thing, it’s a thin sock but doesn’t hold a lot of water. You get really good protection on the bottom of your feet.
iRunFar: You aim for not having a soggy sponge for whatever it is, the combination of shoes and socks. Like you are conscious of that?
Hazen: Something that is not going to hold a lot of water.
iRunFar: I mean are you doing the, like at the aid stations a lot of people dunk sponges and really soak themselves.
Hazen: Even yesterday when it’s not that hot it’s like, soaking yourself, it’s a good little, sometimes it can be a little shock to kind of help you snap out of a low patch or something, it’s just good.
iRunFar: And those low patches happen even in a 14:26 Western States.
iRunFar: Well, congratulations Jared, it was fun watching you out there.
Hazen: Thanks, Bryon.