When he’s not winning 100-mile races, Karl Meltzer is the race director for the Speedgoat 50k. In the following interview, Karl talks about who he thinks the favorites are in this weekend’s women’s and men’s fields, what the conditions will be like on race day, and what he thinks of the evolution of prize money in the sport.
Be sure to read our Speedgoat race preview before following our Speedgoat 50k live coverage on Saturday.
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Karl Meltzer Pre-2014 Speedgoat 50k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Karl Meltzer before the 2014 Speedgoat 50k. Karl, you’re putting on another Speedgoat.
Karl Meltzer: We’ve got quite a race on our hands. It’s going to be another speedster race. Probably not as cool as last year for a record, but we shall see. I’m psyched to be paying some more money out, too.
iRunFar: Not as hot as maybe two years ago, but it actually is turning out to be pretty warm and there’s smoke in the air from the Oregon wildfires.
Meltzer: Yeah, it’s going to be another smoky Speedgoat 50k, I think. We have some wildfires in Oregon and Idaho. It’s a little hazy, but it’s okay. It’s part of the deal. There’s a little course change at the finish. It wouldn’t be Speedgoat without a course change.
iRunFar: That’s right. Hopefully it makes it tougher like every other year.
Meltzer: Yes, it’s a little tougher. I can say that.
iRunFar: Let’s start with the ladies. You have a great field, especially at the front of the field. Who do you think… how do you think it’s going to shake out?
Meltzer: Well, you probably give the favorite to Anna Frost. She’s obviously a mountain runner, so she’s going to be… it’s her kind of course. Kasie Enman—super strong, a little bit better on shorter stuff, but super fast. Ellie Greenwood—Comrades. Joelle Vaught, she’s super fast. I think I’m missing one other person.
iRunFar: Ashley Arnold…
Meltzer: Ashley Arnold. We’ve got Sarah McCloskey—it’s just after Hardrock, but she’ll be starting.
iRunFar: One of the three people who have finished every Speedgoat so far?
Meltzer: Yes, Sarah, I don’t think she’ll go as fast as she could go, but she’ll be out here to finish. It’s going to be good to see her.
iRunFar: Bethany Lewis is coming out. You can’t ever count…
Meltzer: Bethany Lewis, local favorite, she’s just about as fast as the rest of them and she runs around here a lot. If she really has a good day, I would not be surprised to see her make some money tomorrow.
iRunFar: I think she won in 2011?
Meltzer: Again, she ran a fast time. She’s sometimes up and down, but she’s…
iRunFar: She was a bit aggressive, I believe, the last time she ran it and paid for it, but if she nails it…
Meltzer: She paid for it a little bit. I think she had wicked blisters, but anyway, she’ll be in it for sure.
iRunFar: The men’s race, of course, an amazing race there.
Meltzer: Yes, again, another amazing race. Sage Canaday is coming back to try to win back-to-backs. That would be a first here at Speedgoat. His 5:08 was ridiculously fast, but that little piece I threw in near the end is going to make it a little different. I did actually change the record to break to get the prize money. It’s 5:15 and 6:25 as opposed to 5:08 and 6:18. I added a little bit of extra minutes (time) to add to the vertical that I added on. Rickey Gates a couple of years ago won by default—we all know the story there—we’ve got Jeremy Wolf. He made a wrong turn last year, but he was in fourth or fifth place when he came down the mountain. Mike Wolfe. Paul Hamilton—nailed San Juan Solstice.
iRunFar: Yeah, he’s run some amazing times on really tough mountain courses. He hasn’t really been at the really big, prestigious races as much, but he could get on a lot of people’s radar this weekend.
Meltzer: He’s proven himself. I think after the first two runs you don’t really know, but he’s in it. He’s going to run hard. He’s going to be with it.
iRunFar: He’s done really well with the run last year as well as with the Telluride Mountain Run.
Meltzer: Right, so, I mean, Paul… I wouldn’t be surprised… he’s kind of the sleeper to win. Sage has been killing it everywhere, so you expect him to be up front. Sage will probably take the prem being a climber, but we’ll see.
iRunFar: Then there’s a big wild card in this Jim Walmsley guy from Montana that the Montana Mikes keep talking about. They predicted Seth Swanson before Western States, so…
Meltzer: The Montana boys might be right.
iRunFar: Just two years out of the Air Force Academy, he ran a 4:04 mile indoors there his senior year. He was 8:40-low in the steeplechase. Sub-14 5k guy. He’s been doing well on the trails.
Meltzer: So maybe he’s the premium guy. He could at least take that to the top. I think that’s, because it’s a 4,500-foot climb to the top, the faster guys, we’ll see how that goes.
iRunFar: Is somebody going to try to beat Sage to the top for that prem?
Meltzer: I don’t know. Last year, I barely made it up there by the time they got there. That was crazy to think how fast they’re running here, but it’s going to be a great race again. We’ll be having it on Ultralive. We’re having live results. Jared Cambell, my timer, has done a fantastic job on that. Bryon [Powell, iRunFar] obviously will be doing his thing. We’ll be having a really good media thing going on here. It’s going to be awesome.
iRunFar: Nice. Really cool to hear you say you adjusted the course-record bonus because the course is harder. You made it fair but tough. What have you seen with the… you’ve really pushed for prize money in ultrarunning for years, and you put your money where your mouth is off the start with Speedgoat. How have you seen the evolution of the prize money in the sport?
Meltzer: It’s evolved a little bit. It’s not going ‘boom’ all the sudden. Run Rabbit Run has a $50,000 purse now as opposed to $35,000. So it’s going up a little bit. Mine’s gone to $16,000 instead of $12,000, so I’m kind of moving a little bit better. I think it’s still going to be a slow evolution. It’s expensive to give away $16,000. Nobody has that in their back pocket. I will tomorrow. I’m going to give out cash tomorrow instead of checks. So don’t mug me, anybody. Don’t tell anybody that. I’m excited to do that. I’m excited to get money. For those guys running fast, it feels good to hand over money like that. I’ve won a little in my past, too. It feels really good to win that. Maybe we can pay for their trip to Europe or something.
iRunFar: Exactly. People aren’t getting rich off that prize money. That allows you to go race in Europe if you don’t have a sponsor.
Meltzer: $3,500 to win is good but it’s not huge. It’s better than nothing. It’s cool that we’re doing that.
iRunFar: Great chatting with you, Karl. Have fun out there on the course.
Meltzer: Alright. I will try.