Despite still being one of the youngest runners in the race, Jared Hazen will be running the Western States 100 for the fifth time in 2022. In the following interview, Jared talks about what happened during last year’s race, what he learned from the experience, how he got things done at the Canyons by UTMB 100k, and how a post-Canyons illness might leave him fresher for this year’s race.
Jared Hazen Pre-2022 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Jared Hazen before the 2022 Western States 100. How are you, Jared?
Jared Hazen: Doing good, Bryon. How are you?
iRunFar: Doing all right. You first ran Western States in 2015.
iRunFar: 2014. Eight years ago, right?
Hazen: Right. Yeah.
iRunFar: And yet you’re still one of the youngest folks in the field. Do you feel like a kid or a veteran?
Hazen: I’m starting to feel a little older … 27 now, so I’m sure hopefully we’ve got to have somebody younger than me in the race this year.
iRunFar: There’s like three 26-year-olds and those are the youngest.
Hazen: I love that. That’s great.
iRunFar: [laughs] So yeah, you kind of show up on the start line of this Western States, among like, the favorites, as probably the person having the most experience on the course.
Hazen: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think this is like the time I’ll be lining up. Yeah, so I definitely have some experience and have high goals for the race. So yeah, I expect to kind of be mixing up at the top.
iRunFar: Totally. You had two really great performances that speak for themselves on this course, and then there was last year. What did happen last year?
Hazen: Yeah, I think, you know, last year, I kind of had expectations of the races, you know, that I had in the past. Great race in 2019 and coming back in 2021 after a pandemic year and like, had expectations of how it was supposed to be and like how it should feel, and it just wasn’t the same. I mean, each race is a new race. And you know, I didn’t feel very good early on and yet, I was pressing to be where I thought I needed to be.
And you know, I felt like I was carrying a little bit of fatigue in from maybe a long training block, but like, I just failed to calculate that into the race. You know, like I had one plan and it wasn’t a good one that day. So yeah, ultimately, I burned a bunch of matches pretty early on in the race and ended up like halfway, kind of done. And like just with my goals kind of fallen out the window. I didn’t want to be on the course anymore.
iRunFar: Did you learn anything from that experience?
Hazen: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think just a reminder that like, you know, a lesson you learn 100 times in ultrarunning — you’ve got to take what the day gives you, you know. No matter what you want to happen or what you think should happen or what’s happened before, you know, you need to deal with the circumstances that you have on the day.
iRunFar: Yeah. So maybe have that A plan of what would it take to win.
iRunFar: I’m sure that’s in your head. Like that’s a possibility.
Hazen: For sure.
iRunFar: But maybe have some other scenarios in your head?
Hazen: For sure. And like, you never know. Like, you might think that your A plan of winning the race is out the window, but you give yourself a chance, you know, to rally and to kind of run the circumstances you’re in. Like, things maybe evolve later in the race and you’re moving up. But to just kind of pull your way through, the way you want it to go isn’t the move.
iRunFar: And you never know when that bad patch might come.
iRunFar: And also go. One of the prime examples of that in ultrarunning history is here this weekend, Ludovic Pommeret. Like the year he had stomach problems and a horrible first 50k at UTMB and then wins it.
Hazen: For sure. And like he doesn’t win that race unless he takes care of his problems early on, you know. And kind of let’s go with that thought of winning for a little while.
iRunFar: So, going into Canyons, to get a qualifier, you had to get a Golden Ticket into the race. And you were uncharacteristically like quiet, like going in on silent almost.
iRunFar: What was your approach going into Canyons?
Hazen: I think I had a couple of years of not running very well and like, part of it was just — I didn’t know if it was going to happen or not, you know. Like, I didn’t exactly have a ton of confidence heading into the race. I was trying to get my own mind right and think that like, just try to stay positive and think that like, I can still do this.
So yeah, like, you know, kind of tough to go into a race and of course you want to talk about the past, like “What’s been going on the past couple of years?” It’s like, you don’t want to talk about like, why you’ve run like shit for two years like before a race that you’re trying to get yourself ready for. [laughs]
Hazen: You know, so yeah, kind of like that, like just trying to focus on the task at hand, I guess.
iRunFar: Well, you did run yourself into Western States.
Hazen: Yeah, got third and the second to last Golden Ticket into States this year.
iRunFar: There you go.
Hazen: So yeah, had a pretty good day. And like kind of had a race I would expect to have. Like I felt really strong throughout. Just kind of put myself in Golden Ticket position.
iRunFar: That’s all you needed.
iRunFar: You don’t need to win the race or set a course record.
Hazen: With it being like a tight turnaround, I didn’t need to go and like dig myself in a hole to win this race. Like I kind of went there to do a job and got the job done.
iRunFar: There have been lessons like that in the past, a decade-plus ago you see Miwok 100k. If you won Miwok, you weren’t going to win Western States.
iRunFar: And there’s a little more time with Canyons, but …
Hazen: Yeah, sure.
iRunFar: But you kind of played it smart.
Hazen: Yeah. Ran like a solid race but like, without killing myself out there and was feeling pretty good out there and was able to get in some good training ahead of this race.
iRunFar: How was that transition from Canyons back into training?
Hazen: It was good. I had a slight delay. Like a week after Canyons, I got COVID-19. Probably on the flight home from Canyons, honestly. [laughs] And so like, just kind of pushed things back like another two weeks, which is already a tight turnaround, but I was just in the frame of mind, like it’s either going to happen or it’s not. Like once I started training again things went really, really well. I kind of picked up.
iRunFar: Maybe that extra week or two of rest after, it’s still 100k that you raced at Canyons.
Hazen: Yeah, yeah. Maybe not such a bad thing.
iRunFar: Maybe you’ll go into this a little fresher than last year.
Hazen: For sure. I felt like I was kind of at the bottom of an upward trajectory when I was at Canyons. Even at Canyons, like training had been fine. It wasn’t anything special, but I did feel like I was starting to really feel good again and make some progress. And so, I’m hoping that I’ve kind of just kept climbing, you know.
iRunFar: Nice. What’s still special about Western States? Because you have been coming here for a long time.
Hazen: Yeah. I mean, like there’s just an energy around the race, you know. Like, the history of it and like having your own personal history adds a layer, you know. Like, I was really bummed after last year’s race, and like, you know, for a while I didn’t want to come back to Western States.
And then like, just in the last couple of months getting that urge again, like yeah. Imagining myself on the course and like just envisioning how it plays out and like actually wanting to be out there again. It’s a good feeling and after having a couple of good results without a win, like that keeps you very hungry to go like, seal the deal and make it happen.
iRunFar: Like of the returning folks, you’re kind of one of the two favorites — you and Tim Tollefson having a lot of experience. With people who finished on the podium last year and up-and-comers, but like, what does it feel like? Do you feel pressure? Like having been in this position a number of times you must feel like…
Hazen: I think I’m starting to kind of get over that. Like maybe last year, I felt like I had some pressure to get it done. But then like, I’ve kind of seen like a really good day play out here and I’ve seen a really bad day play out here. And like a week later, it’s kind of all the same, you know. So, whatever happens, happens and life goes on, I guess.
iRunFar: Right on. Well, I hope it does play out well for you and you get to enjoy the day.
Hazen: Yeah. Yeah, I hope so, too.
iRunFar: Best of luck out there.
Hazen: Appreciate it, Bryon.