Rickey Gates travels the world running a wide variety of races. This March sees him kicking off his ultrarunning season with the 2013 Tarawera Ultramarathon. In the following interview, Rickey talks his plans for Tarawera, what type of runner he is, how to deal with the mix of running and travel, where he’ll focus his racing energies in 2013, and what run he’d recommend in Moab, Utah.
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Bonus Video: Rickey Gates Running New Zealand’s Kepler Track
Rickey Gates Pre-2013 Tarawera Ultramarathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here kicking off the 2013 season with Rickey Gates.
Rickey Gates: Cheers.
iRF: We’re in Ben Lomond Station, Queenstown, New Zealand, and I want to talk to you about Tarawera this weekend. There are three races. Which one are you running?
Gates: I’m signed up for the 85k.
iRF: Is that still your plan?
Gates: We’ll see. It’s very early in the season. For the Kiwi’s down here, obviously, it’s right at the end of their season. There are a lot of fast people here that are going to be focusing on it. I haven’t run much over three hours in four or five months. So how far along I get in the 85k, I’m not quite sure. I’ll give it a go.
iRF: Yes, it is very early in your season. You have run at least one race so far this year—a stair race in New York City.
Gates: Yes, up the Empire State Building. It was a 10-minute long race—quite a bit different than 85k.
iRF: Quite a bit of difference. I think in talking to you two years ago when you were running your first ultras, you mentioned you didn’t really want to be categorized as an “ultrarunner” or a “mountain runner” or anything. Two years into running the longer races, where do you see yourself now and in going forward?
Gates: I still maintain that. I think that the more diverse you can be in this sport, the better off you are. Ultrarunner, trail runner, road runner, stair runner—it’s all running in the end. That’s what I do.
iRF: That’s what your passion is?
iRF: Your passion is also all over the place in terms of location. You are a wanderer or a vagabond at times. Do you have any advice for people in traveling to destinations who are going to be running competitively as well?
Gates: For me it’s always been not worrying about money and not being afraid to camp out. That’s the main thing for me—not intending to win the money and letting the cards fall where they may.
iRF: How about in terms of dealing with jet lag and the times spent on planes and what have you—any advice there?
Gates: I don’t have any advice there. I still struggle every time I get off a 12-hour flight.
iRF: We’re going to take a brief helicopter pause here. Pardon the helicopter. That’s what happens on location here. Rickey, I know this is your first race this season. I’m sure you’re excited about it, but it’s not your focus. What are your foci for this year?
Gates: Most of the Salomon team is going to be going to Lake Sonoma; I’ll be going there as well. It seems to be the focus of a lot of people’s early season. I like racing the best people in the sport even if I’m in over my head. I think Lake Sonoma is going to be one of those races like the TNF 50.
iRF: At least, yeah.
Gates: It will be a little bit more interesting because it’s at a much better time of the year. After that, I’m still looking at some plans for early July. Mid-July will be Ice Trail in Chamonix—I think 80k and a crazy amount of vert. Maybe Sierre-Zinal. Maybe Speedgoat. UROC is for sure in late September. I feel like I’m missing some races. I’d really love to do the Dipsea.
iRF: The traditional Dipsea?
Gates: The traditional Dipsea—one way, seven-mile—it’s been going 102-103 years this year. It’s been on my list for a really long time.
iRF: You want to race seven-year-old girls who can beat you.
iRF: Before your racing season really takes off, you go with Salomon to Advanced Week in Moab, Utah. You’ve spent a lot of time there. What’s your connection to Moab?
Gates: I grew up in Colorado. The people in Utah, in Moab specifically, say that they know it’s springtime when the license plates turn green. It’s all the Coloradoans heading into Moab for getting some warm weather. Since before I can remember, my mom would take me and my siblings into Moab and we’d just go play in the dirt and run around arches. Yeah, I’ve been going there off and on for 30 years now.
iRF: Is there one particular trail you’re really excited to show your Salomon friends? I know that’s a hard question.
Gates: It is a hard question. There’s one I haven’t done entirely called the Heavenly Staircase. It starts at the Red Cliffs lodge and connects up to the Porcupine Rim.
iRF: So you can see Castle Valley from there?
Gates: Exactly, you get a great view of Castle Valley and you get to do that cool singletrack going back down to the Colorado River. I’ve done more mountain biking in Moab than I’ve done running. So I’m excited to check out a lot of the running there.
iRF: Great chatting with you, Rickey. I’ll see you back in the States.