Jared Hazen Pre-2021 Western States 100 Interview

With three previous finishes including a second and third place, Jared Hazen returns to the 2021 Western States 100 to see if a fourth time is the charm for the win. In this interview, Jared talks about why he decided to race the WS 100 again, his solid season of training since February, and how he sees the men’s race playing out on Saturday.

For more on who’s running the race, check out our men’s and women’s previews, and, then, follow along with our live race coverage on Saturday!

Jared Hazen Pre-2021 Western States 100 Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, I’m with Jared Hazen, it’s a couple days before the 2021 Western States 100. You’re back again Jared.

Jared Hazen: I am, yeah. I think for my fourth time.

iRunFar: This race keeps drawing you back. I want to cut to the chase. You’ve run sub 14:30, you’ve podiumed at this race a couple times, why are you here this time?

Hazen: Well, I have yet to win, so, yeah that’s why I am back and I guess fourth time is the charm, like they say.

iRunFar: You’ve done pretty well at this race for yourself a couple of times. It’s hard to run a perfect 100-mile race. What is going to get you from where you have been to where you want to be with Western States?

Hazen: I don’t think I’m going to run a perfect 100-mile race, I don’t really count on that. So I’ve run the race three times and every time I feel like I’ve had a good race and I’m proud of the races I’ve had. I think I’ve tried to prepare better, to try to kind of bump from second like I was two years ago to being able to really contend for the win. So it’s a combination of the pandemic and not a lot of races happening but also really wanting to put all my chips here at Western States, kind of took a long-term approach to this race this year, and sort of getting things underway in late February with my preparations, and so that gave me lots and lots of time to make sure I got everything done.

iRunFar: Yeah, February to the end of June is quite the training block. And at least on paper, or on Strava paper, it kind of looks textbook.

Hazen: Yeah. I think because I had so much time, I kind of looked at how much time I had after I was coming off a bit of plantar fasciitis in December and January, started looking at things, started considering maybe a spring race. And then as I was looking at the calendar, I was like, I don’t know what’s going to happen. And so I decided not to count on a spring race happening and I was like, you know, I think this will be the perfect amount of time to do very long training block for Western States and it allowed me to build in rest weeks and to take a very gradual approach. So I wasn’t really risking injury as much, trying to build up really fast or trying to do a quick turnaround from a race, so it ended up being very close to how I drew it out at the end of February when I was writing everything down. Which is great and partially lucky as well. Yeah, it’s been a very, very good training block so I’m excited.

iRunFar: You live in Flagstaff, Arizona and so you have the hills around there to train on, once it’s not winter, but you also have the Grand Canyon at your disposal, which is pretty amazing Western States training grounds. What have you been doing around home for your training?

Hazen: Yeah, training in the Grand Canyon is something I do about once a week. I occasionally do it twice a week but, I kind of started earlier in the training block doing a lot of 21-mile runs in there. So just running down to the river, up, and then back along the rim. Then as I started getting into late April and May, I started doing a 30-mile route starting at the South Kaibab Trailhead and running out to Cottonwood Campground and back. And I think I did that 30-mile run like five different times. And it’s great because it is so much like Western States because when you’re in the canyon, you have access to drinking water, you have access to the Colorado River and Bright Angel Creek on hot days to cool off. It’s really good simulation and it’s great practice to be down there when it’s really hot and be kind of not feeling so good and then knowing that you can get in the creek, cool off, and just feeling that and being like, okay I’m fine, I’m just hot. Yeah, I had a lot of difficult days down there where I would run out to Cottonwood and get back to the Colorado River and have the 5,000-foot climb back up to the South Rim. There were just days where I was running out to Cottonwood and was like, I feel so bad today, how am I going to get out of here? So it was really good practice to just be like, we’ve got to start feeling a little bit better by the time we start this climb and trying to figure out ways to do that, so great 100-mile simulation.

iRunFar: I feel slightly relieved to hear you say that the canyon is difficult because I think for most people watching this they will think, oh Grand Canyon is like a bucket-list thing, it’s this really hard thing you build to, it’s aspirational. But it was kind of an ordinary component for you.

Hazen: Yeah, it was, but at the same time under normal circumstances throughout the year, when I go to the canyon it is quite the effort and it really takes a toll and usually I’m pretty tired for a couple days. Getting in the routine of going every week and kind of knowing how I’m going to feel the next couple of days, I always–not always, I guess there are some exceptions—that usually take it fairly easily the day after the canyon and it is 100% an ass kicker, anybody that’s going down there should just be happy to get out and make it home.

iRunFar: The forecast for the weekend is temperatures somewhere a degree or two under 100 Fahrenheit to a degree or two above 100. I think that’s cool compared to the bottom of the Grand Canyon?

Hazen: I think similar? Maybe. Actually I think a lot of days I have been down there when it’s been around 100 degrees at the bottom, maybe a little hotter, a little cooler. So it will be similar. One thing about the canyon though is it’s so exposed, you’re just always in the sun so that makes it feel a little bit hotter and it’s so dry in Arizona. So it’s nice to be here, everything’s green, there’s a little bit of moisture in the air.

iRunFar: You can feel the moisture can’t you?

Hazen: Yeah. So I think, I do think race day temperatures will be hotter than any race I’ve done here but I think I’m prepared so long with running in the Grand Canyon when it’s hot, I’ve done some sauna training and gotten down to Sedona to do some running. We’ve had a heat wave, I think the whole country has a bit, Flagstaff has definitely had a heat wave the last week or two, we’ve had temps in the 90s just in town alone. Going down south, it’s over 100 in Sedona.

iRunFar: Yeah, yeah, proper hot weather.

Hazen: Yeah.

iRunFar: All right, last question for you. Let’s play Sports Center for a minute, how do you see the men’s race going down on Saturday?

Hazen: So, as always it’s a pretty deep field. And I think as always, by the time we get to Michigan Bluff, you will be able to tell who you are racing against to the end and who is in over their head. I mean, I would assume by Michigan Bluff it will be whittled down to like three guys for the win at that point. That always seems to be the case. If not then by like, a little bit later, at Foresthill, you have a good idea of who is looking all right and who is not. I think it will be fast through the high country because there’s no snow this year. But then with how hot it’s going to be the canyons, a lot of attrition I think will happen there. And it will just be who lasts through the heat and through the hotter sections of the course and it can definitely come down to a one, two, three man race the last 20. I just don’t see five guys being there in the last 20 miles of the race, running for the win. That never really happens at this race.

iRunFar: So do you see it coming down to who’s able to race with 20 to go or do you see it kind of decided by then?

Hazen: Yeah, that’s kind of a good question. That I don’t know. I could see it going both ways, I could see a really tight race between two guys, hopefully myself included.

iRunFar: “Excuse me, I would like to be there.”

Hazen: In the last 20 miles, racing, duking it out, and being a slim margin at the end or it could just be blown out by then, you know it could be a big margin of victory. I guess we find out on Saturday.

iRunFar: To be determined.

Hazen: Right.

iRunFar: Well, best of luck to you.

Hazen: Yeah, thank you.

iRunFar: This is going to be fun, this is iRunFar’s first race covering in person since the pandemic so it’s going to be real fun following you guys down the course.

Hazen: Yeah, very excited to be here.

Meghan Hicks

is the Managing Editor of iRunFar and the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running.' The converted road runner finished her first trail ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places.