Mike Foote continued to crush mountain 100 milers in taking second at the 2015 Hardrock 100. In our interview, Mike talks about how steady his race was, what his highs and lows were, how the race’s two directions compare, why he thinks he does so well in this type of race, how he enjoyed having a pacer for the first time in four years, and what he’s up to next.
For more on how the race went down, read our 2015 Hardrock 100 results article.
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Mike Foote Post-2015 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Mike Foote after his second-place finish at the 2015 Hardrock 100. Congratulations, Foote.
Mike Foote: Thank you.
iRunFar: That was quite a run out there. Are you pretty happy with that?
Foote: Yeah, definitely. It’s Hardrock, so you just never know what kind of trials and tribulations you’re going to encounter. I just felt really consistent all day even though I had low points like everybody has. We were talking about it—the high points of the course are the low points of the race. Every time I was up above 13,000 feet, I was moving slow and hurting like everybody else, but as soon as I got down in elevation, I felt really stable and strong and was able to execute the plan which was to run really steady all day and never get too crazy until I could kind of push it on the last part of the race.
iRunFar: You were able to stick to that. Where were you in the early going, place wise?
Foote: I was probably in the top 10 in Cunningham and then moved my way up into fifth. By Grouse, I actually went from third to second passing Adam Campbell outside of Grouse.
iRunFar: Mile 42—were you expecting to be in second that early on? It doesn’t seem like… it still seems pretty aggressive for you.
Foote: It does, yeah. Actually, if I was going by place, I would have felt like, Oh gosh, maybe I shouldn’t be here already. But as far as effort goes, I felt very conservative. I felt like I was running within myself. I kind of tried to trust that more than numbers of time or numbers of place. Yeah, I felt fine and just kept plugging along.
iRunFar: You were talking about your low parts. Were there any besides the elevation?
Foote: Not really. I was pretty tired going up Camp Bird Road. Everybody is. I had Dylan Bowman pacing me at that point, and he’s so positive and energetic that it was great to have him along kind of dragging me up the road. That definitely kept me positive. We crawled up and over Virginius Pass. I felt bad because they gave me a pierogi up there which I couldn’t eat.
iRunFar: You couldn’t eat… thanks, I had two.
Foote: I had one little bite, so then it was unusable for anyone else. I felt bad about that. I enjoyed being up there. I got up there just after the sunset, so it was really beautiful—a great spot, but tired. Otherwise, stomach-wise, I was able to keep getting calories down and sticking to the plan and as far as any catastrophic blow-ups, I was lucky to not really encounter any of those this time around.
iRunFar: No horrible nausea or dead legs or anything like that?
iRunFar: That’s awesome. There must have been some highlights on the course. A race like this…
Foote: Yeah, it was great. I had a really good time with Iker Karrera. We spent the first 30 or 35 miles together just plugging along. We summited Handies together. It was just beautiful up there. We got squalled by a snowstorm coming through on the way up Handies, but it was sunny as we summited and it was just beautiful. Iker had his GoPro because he was just plugging along and taking footage. I was kind of wishing I had a camera because it was just stunning. Yeah, that was definitely a high point. Actually, I just remembered low point was getting lost at Oscar’s Pass. Coming up out of Telluride, we were in a storm again. The markers were pretty sparse and there was just a lot of snow and we ended up not finding the way for quite awhile. Timmy Olson, who was pacing me at the time, and I were kind of wandering around aimlessly just outside of Wasatch Basin for a good 45 minutes.
iRunFar: How did that affect you mentally because obviously you’re still moving so it’s tiring and it’s up high, too.
Foote: Yeah, it was mentally really challenging, to be honest. I had had a lead on top of Adam Campbell, Troy Howard, and Chris Price by about a half an hour or so, and as Timmy and I were wandering around the basin, they just continued to come up into the basin with us. Everybody was in the basin looking for the way to go. There were these parties of headlamps all over in other directions screaming at each other trying to figure out which way to go. Then Adam Campbell’s pacer, Anne-Marie, she found the way and gave us a holler. I was really appreciative of that, and we all finally got back on the route after that. It was a lot of time and energy we wasted. I got kind of cold up there because we had stopped moving with purpose at that point. Once we got down to Chapman, I made the mental note to not care anymore about that and just continue to run my own race. I was able to put in a good bit of energy toward that last bit.
iRunFar: Did you feel like you were racing at the end or were you just moving forward with purpose?
Foote: I definitely was channeling a little of my frustration about getting lost on the climb out of Chapman up to Grant-Swamp. I was definitely wanting to move hard and create a gap and all that. I was able to do that and hold it throughout.
iRunFar: You’ve run Hardrock before. Forgive my run-addled brain, but was it the opposite direction before? Was it 2010?
Foote: It was 2010.
iRunFar: So you are a true Hardrocker now.
Foote: I guess I am. I’ve run it in both directions.
iRunFar: Did it feel like a completely different course? How does it compare having run it in both directions?
Foote: It does feel like a different course. I definitely enjoyed running it in this direction because I got to see some sections in the daylight which I hadn’t last time. I will say the last three or four climbs are just brutal going this direction which I kind of like. I like that it’s really, really, really hard at the end. It is both directions, obviously, but going up over Grant-Swamp Pass, Oscar’s, Virginius, all in the dark and all after you’ve put in so much time on these steep scree slopes that you’re just clawing your way up to the top is kind of why I love it. It kind of just beats you down and makes you feel so raw. It’s just really fun to be in that moment. I really actually like this direction quite a bit for that reason.
iRunFar: You just are darn awesome in mountain 100-mile courses. With what you’ve done at UTMB and now at Hardrock, do you just feel super strong? How does it make you feel in terms of your place in everything? You’ve been around this sport for long enough.
Foote: I guess for me, it felt good to have a decent run here because it reminded me that races like this are what I love and the type of training that I like to do and what I enjoy about the sport. I like races that are cold, steep, long, and Hardrock is all those things. It was confidence-inspiring to be able to feel good in that terrain and remind me of all the stuff I just do when I train and when I’m having fun on long runs back home in Montana. Yeah, I guess after being at races that are hotter or faster or shorter and not doing as well, it’s fun to be at a race like this that feels more in my wheelhouse and be able to enjoy it a little bit. Yeah, I guess in that sense, I want to keep doing a lot of races like Hardrock.
iRunFar: What do you search for when you’re out there? You talk to some people and they like to go to the dark spot and see their depths. Other people are doing it to find those enjoyable periods. What do you look for out there?
Foote: That’s a good question. I don’t know if I have an answer for you. I like to see what I’ve got on a given day like a lot of people when they’re competitive. It’s definitely… you put a lot of time in and you make a lot of sacrifices and you want to see what you’re capable of. It’s just a mixture of all those things. As much as I want to go to my dark place, I also want to share those moments with people. Spending time with The North Face teammates like Timmy Olson and Dylan Bowman—to have them there and seeing the excitement that they had in wanting to give me all their energy was a really cool experience that I don’t get to have much. I haven’t had a pacer in four years because I always run UTMB and they don’t have pacers. So to have a pacer was a really cool experience and something that was actually more valuable than I had kind of expected. After the fact, of course, I was like, That was amazing. There’s all sorts of ingredients that really bring a lot of value to the experience for me.
iRunFar: In terms of pacing, it does help to have someone with you for navigation, for reminders, and that sort of thing, but did it feel like giving to them in terms of sharing the course of value?
Foote: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. That camaraderie is huge. I think that’s… people ask me, “Why do you want a pacer? Is it because of this or that?” “Well, I like to stay on course. I like to have a little company at night so that I’m not hallucinating or getting lost.” Also, again, I run a lot alone, and I like that, but I also like sharing it with the right people and the right moments. It was great to have friends along the way. Yeah, I really liked that.
iRunFar: What else do you have lined up this summer?
Foote: That’s a good question. I might go to Gary Robbins’s Squamish 50 Mile in August. Then the kind of the month around The Rut Mountain Run kind of saps a lot of my time, energy, and focus. Organizing that will be a part of the rest of my summer. Mike Wolfe and I have a fun adventure project coming up post-Rut. It’s a little 500-mile jaunt in our backyard which we’re scheming right now. I’ll leave it at that.
iRunFar: You’ll leave it at that. I won’t press you on it.
Foote: A little three-week journey through the mountains starting at the front doorstep heading north.
iRunFar: Heading north, alright.
Foote: We’re kind of putting a lot of that stuff together right now, and it’s a project I’m really excited about. We’re kind of putting the pieces together right now, so I’ll leave it at that, but I’m sure I’ll tell you more soon.
iRunFar: Alright, well, congratulations on a great run here, Foote. I’ll see you soon.
Foote: Thanks, Bryon.
iRunFar: A bonus question for you: I know if I lived in Missoula what I’d be doing as soon as I got home. I’d be going to Big Dipper. What ice cream flavor or flavors is going to be in that first celebratory dish?
Foote: That’s a great question. Every time I go to Big Dipper I’ll check the specials, and if there’s a special that catches my interest, I’ll test it. If I like it, I go for it. But my go-to which everyone who eats with me at Big Dipper will always say is coconut or yellow cake. The yellow cake is so good dipped in chocolate in a waffle cone. It’s just out of this world.
iRunFar: Enjoy. You so deserve it.
Foote: Thank you.