The 2024 Hardrock 100 is history! Check out our in-depth results article for the full race story, as well as our interviews with champions Courtney Dauwalter and Ludovic Pommeret.

Rod Farvard Post-2024 Western States 100 Interview

A video interview with Rod Farvard after his second-place finish at the 2024 Western States 100.

By on July 1, 2024 | Comments

Rod Farvard had a breakout run to take second at the 2024 Western States 100. In this interview, our first with Rod, he talks about how he found his way to trail ultrarunning from other sports, his long history of improvement with this event, and his all-day back-and-forth with men’s winner Jim Walmsley.

For more on how the race played out, read our in-depth 2024 Western States 100 results article.

Rod Farvard Post-2024 Western States 100 Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Rod Farvard after his second-place finish at the 2024 Western States 100. How are you, Rod?

Rod Farvard: Doing well.

iRunFar: Yeah? Feeling all right after some fast times on the track?

Farvard: Relatively, yeah. I’m walking. I’m eating. Yesterday, it was really rough post-race.

iRunFar: Was it? Just cross the line and straight to puking on the finish?

Farvard: Yep.

iRunFar: We’ll get there. There’s a good journey. Not that long of a journey because it was 14 hours and 24 minutes. But I want to go back into your journey a little bit. It’s our first interview with you, and we always like to find out your story with athletics, maybe specifically with running. When did you get into sports or running?

Farvard: I did cross country and track in high school, like everyone. But I wasn’t a standout whatsoever. My PRs were not notable. I didn’t go to college to run, but I fell in love with the sport, and I decided to race marathons after high school, when I was in college for a couple years. That kind of got boring doing alone, and I missed that team environment. I ended up doing triathlon in the collegiate club program at UC Santa Barbara, and got really into that, and got really into training for that. And my coach was a very great role model, and he actually coaches me today for ultrarunning. But yeah, I competed in college for two years, and then I went on to do Ironmans for another year and a half post-college. And then I started working full time and could not train as much as Ironman athletes do. And I always like to train at a really high level or I feel like I’m wasting my time, so I switch to ultrarunning, which felt more free.

iRunFar: Yes. Much less of a time commitment than Ironman triathlons.

Farvard: [laughs]

iRunFar: How long ago was that? When did you make the switch?

Farvard: 2018.

iRunFar: So, a relatively long while ago. It’s been six years.

Farvard: Yeah.

iRunFar: And obviously had quite a strong endurance base going into that time. Did you ramp up pretty quickly with racing ultras or training for ultras, or did you kind of dip your toe in your water and build up from there?

Farvard: I ramped so quick. Yeah. I went straight to 100k and was training a lot, but the hours were low, but the volume for mileage was high, relative to tri, at least. And yeah, I did my first 100k in San Diego at the Cuyamaca 100k. I won and set a course record there, and I just didn’t really understand at the time what a deep field means, and what the local 100k means, so I thought I was pretty good at the sport.

iRunFar: No offense, rats. [laughs]

Farvard: Yeah, true. So, I started doing more local ones, winning them, and setting course records. And then I did my first very competitive one at the 2019 Black Canyon, where I ended up getting fifth place.

iRunFar: And that felt like you’d gone into a deeper field.

Farvard: Yes, yeah. That felt like a deep field. I was racing for a Golden Ticket. Didn’t happen. And then a month later, ran the Nine Trails in 2019, which was that superstar-packed field with all the Hoka athletes. And I finished fourth there on some home trails in Santa Barbara. And yeah, that’s when I realized I could potentially be good at this and be racing in elite fields.

iRunFar: And things got probably pushed back timewise a little bit with the whole COVID year in 2020.

Farvard: Yeah.

iRunFar: How’d you find your way into Western States for the first time in 2021?

Farvard: Yeah, I got off the lottery. I got onto the waitlist for Western States for the 2020 race, which then got canceled. And then go a year forward to 2021, I got the email probably in March before the race, and I totally forgot that my name was pulled off this waitlist, and I forgot Western States was a thing after COVID year. Like oh, wow, I guess I’m doing this. I think I was 36th on the waitlist and got pulled in a few months before the race. So I started training for it. And got the stoke for it.

iRunFar: When in the year did you actually start training for Western States?

Farvard: Well, I sort of started training in April of 2021 that year, like three months before the race. I quickly got injured. So that got pushed another month. So I was training for about eight weeks before the race.

iRunFar: Which then maybe is not a huge surprise that you didn’t finish your first Western States.

Farvard: I did not.

iRunFar: That puts some context in it. You weren’t gearing up for that for a year and a half or something.

Farvard: I wasn’t gearing up for it. I also didn’t know what the race really entailed. I didn’t understand how hot it gets here. Especially that year. Like, what, 108 at the river or so? Didn’t understand the downhills. Didn’t understand how to eat. So yeah, there’s a recipe for disaster, truly.

iRunFar: And your progress with Western States kind of shows a very upward trajectory, because you had the DNF, which is understandable. And then you had the 23-hour finish, and a 16:15-minute finish more or less, and then 14:24. That’s quite a progression.

Farvard: Yep.

iRunFar: You pretty proud of that?

Farvard: I am, yeah. I love this race. I truly do. It’s so easy to pick apart and understand where you need to improve on the course. So, I think, like picking up time like that, it’s not easy, but it’s easy to conceptualize where you need to pick up the time in order to do it. And that makes coming back every year, when you can, extremely fun and extremely motivating.

iRunFar: Was this year’s race fun for you?

Farvard: Oh, man.

iRunFar: [laughs]

Farvard: Fun’s a strong word, but this year was, I’ve never been in this mental space in a race ever, that I was in this year and that was racing from step one. Except like maybe a 50k or something, but I mean for a long ultra, 100k to 100 mile, there was no time for me to chill. And it’s not like I went in the race of wanting to do that. I don’t know. The gun started and that’s where my mind went. And I didn’t feel a single emotion on the day, you know. I didn’t feel what fun is. I was just out there racing every step, and my mind was just completely zoned in, completely blocked out. I don’t think I waved or said hi to anyone. I apologize for that. But yeah, it was completely different.

iRunFar: Did you cross the Escarpment in first?

Farvard: I did, which I felt like, oh man, I’m going to shit for this probably. [laughs]

iRunFar: Had you not more or less stuck the race, which let’s be honest, you did, yes, you probably would have got some shit for sending the Escarpment. People now sometimes get up to the top and win the race, but historically, that was not the case.

Farvard: Well, to be honest, I felt bad for Jim [Walmsley].

iRunFar: [laughs]

Farvard: I don’t know why I’m saying that. But everyone’s just keying off him, and he’s just anyone else in the race. You know, he’s just a runner. But everyone made sure they were right behind him. He started going slow, you know, slower than slow, and everyone started dropping back behind him, too. I’m like why, guys. If anything I wanted to get in the front so I could have a clear singletrack in the high country and not have to worry about footing, and can control the pace. Which actually took what felt really chill, and just felt like my pace when I crested and was able to lead us.

iRunFar: There was no intimidation of you’re going back and forth multiple times with Jim during the race. He doesn’t pass you and you’re like, “Oh, crap. Jim just passed me. Game over.”

Farvard: There’s some of that. Yeah, but so I counted. When Jim and I actually started battling, it was at Michigan Bluff, which I thought he got out of that climb way faster than me, and I thought he was out of the aid station way faster than me. But I rolled out of that aid station and then I heard some people running behind me. I figured it was just a film crew. And I looked back, and there’s Jim. I’m like, oh. I did a few double-takes and I’m like, okay. I guess we’re going to run today together. And from there to Green Gate, which is a few miles after that, he ultimately made the decisive move and passed me. We had 10 lead switches between each other.

iRunFar: Were you ever running together? Was it always just a pass or were there a couple of minutes where you were rolling together?

Farvard: A couple minutes. I would say after Foresthill, no. It was just passing back and forth, but dropping down Volcano Canyon before climbing out Bath Road, we were running a stretch together. We dunked in a river together. He advised me to get fully wet. You know, he was giving some tips.

iRunFar: You took them.

Farvard: Yeah, I took them. And then we ran the climb up together until the road which he started to take off and got into Foresthill first.

iRunFar: Which you can’t feel too bad about. Was it exhausting? Having to keep on that edge of effort? Or like, I can’t imagine being passed 10 times by the same person in a race, or vice versa.

Farvard: Yeah, it was exhausting. It was hard to tell if this is going to be the last time I saw him or not. And there’s kind of this decision you have to make mentally of, am I going to fight, or am I just happy with second place? And at the end of the day, I just kept my pace that felt sustainable in that moment. And that eventually led to some passes. But yeah, when he made that last move by me, we were climbing up the hill between Green Gate and Auburn Lakes Trails. It’s not very steep. It’s probably like a 6 to 7% grade. But I’ve never seen anyone run up a hill faster, it felt like.

iRunFar: [laughs]

Farvard: I’m like, okay, I’m doing what I can here. And maybe he blows himself up before the finish, but wow, he looks strong here. And I had to focus on myself at that point.

iRunFar: Were things getting a bit rough for yourself then?

Farvard: Yeah, I wasn’t climbing quite as strong, which was kind of the theme of the day between me and Jim. I think I was descending a little better, and he was climbing a lot better. So I walk-climbed, or walk-ran some of the climbs after Quarry Road. And I think that’s where I lost a lot of time to Hayden [Hawks] behind me, too. Then I heard every aid station he was just making up some time. So I was just focusing myself, and trying to keep second place at that point.

iRunFar: Were you getting pretty worried?

Farvard: A little bit. Yeah. Yeah, I think at Pointed Rocks there was five minutes between me and Hayden, which he cut down from 10 minutes at Green Gate. And I was like, okay, he has to run a minute per mile faster than me to catch me here. That’s not going to happen.

iRunFar: And then?

Farvard: [laughs] Well, and then, I mean, I thought I had it, and got up to Robie Point and Tim [Tollefson], who was pacing me.

iRunFar: Tim Tollefson?

Farvard: Tollefson. Who was pacing me on the road section to Robie Point. Chris Brown paced me most of it beforehand. Tim said, “Okay, do you want to go under Jared [Hazen]’s time and be the second-fastest person at Western States?” I said, “No, I just want to take it in.” Because I was already at that point, too. And he was like, “Alright, buddy. Let’s take it in.” And we make that final, final, very short bump that everyone hates after Robie, and Tim decides to look back, and he sees Hayden’s sea of white entourage behind us. And he’s like. “We gotta go.”

iRunFar: [laughs]

Farvard: And I think it’s half a mile from there. And yeah, just all out from there, but I was I was hating every moment.

iRunFar: And you’re in the straightaway together. Literally.

Farvard: Yeah, yeah. We hit the track. I actually don’t know. I don’t know what was happening there. I was just like, I need to go all out.

iRunFar: And you did. I think, talking to Hayden, he ran something like a 5:23 last mile.

Farvard: Oh my god.

iRunFar: So you’ve got to be sub-6:00 probably.

Farvard: Yeah. Yeah.

iRunFar: And you cross the line and you’re puking.

Farvard: Yeah.

iRunFar: Are you happy you pushed that far?

Farvard: Yeah. I am. Extremely. I guess I know what it means to be first. I don’t know what it means to be second or third and what the difference is, but it felt really important for me to get second place.

iRunFar: And you feel like you got the best out of yourself yesterday.

Farvard: Absolutely.

iRunFar: And there’s nothing you can be more proud of than that, right?

Farvard: Nothing. Yes.

iRunFar: What was your best memory from the day? Or maybe like, the most memorable moment. It doesn’t have to be the best. Like, what stands out from yesterday?

Farvard: Yeah, I think it was a painful moment, but going elbow-to-elbow with Jim up from the river to Green Gate.

iRunFar: Just throwin’ down.

Farvard: Throwin’ down.

iRunFar: Mano a mano.

Farvard: Yeah, just trying to understand how he was feeling in the moment, and what I needed to do here. And I know he didn’t take crew on the other side of the river, so I knew he was going to stop here. And I was just curious if that was going to be my moment to go. And I thought it was. And God, the guy just has these second winds, at UTMB, at Western States, that just are unbelievable, really. And I’m super inspired by him.

iRunFar: Nice. What’s next for you?

Farvard: Potentially, I mean, I’m signed up. We’ll see if I can get training together and have a good summer, but I’m going to go to the Diagonale des Fous, the Grand Raid.

iRunFar: Congratulations on a tremendous run at Western States.

Farvard: Thank you. Thank you. Day to remember.

iRunFar: Take care.

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Founding Editor of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for more than 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.