Tim Freriks says he’s racing the 2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k for an opportunity to earn a Western States 100 Golden Ticket. In this interview, Tim talks about the highs and lows of the last couple of years outside of racing, why he’s decided to race the Canyons 100k, and how he thinks his training grounds of Arizona’s Grand Canyon might have been a good place to prepare for this event.
Tim Freriks Pre-2022 Canyons by UTMB 100k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Tim Freriks. It’s a couple of days before the 2022 Canyons Endurance Runs by UTMB 100k. It’s been a while since we’ve had a conversation like this, Tim.
Tim Freriks: Yeah, yeah it has been a while. I think, I don’t know, I think I kept a pretty low profile through COVID, especially the first little bit there. Yeah, I’ve started racing more, I did a little bit of racing last year but yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve been to one of these events where there is a spotlight on the elite field and people are going for those Golden Tickets. Yeah, it’s exciting to be back. Yeah, I’m looking forward to Saturday.
iRunFar: Well we may only have a few minutes to talk here before this little thunderstorm cell is headed our way, but catch me up for a minute on what’s been going on in your life. I think you got married? You’ve been working a lot?
Freriks: Yeah, I got married this last September.
Freriks: Thanks, yeah. Maddie and I have dated for several years now, made things official this last September. But yeah, gosh, since I think …
iRunFar: I think the last time I saw you race was Pikes Peak 2019.
Freriks: Yeah, that was a tough day for me.
Freriks: I think, I feel like whenever I think of iRunFar interviews, I think my first one at [The North Face 50 Mile Championship] in 2017 and I think I had …
iRunFar: Sonoma, maybe.
Freriks: Oh yeah, you’re right. Sonoma. And I think of that timeframe.
iRunFar: The golden years.
Freriks: Yeah, 2016, 2017, getting my start in the sport. And I think I just had one of those typical stories of kind of burning the candle at both ends and working full time. You can only do that for so long before it catches up to you, I think. So yeah, I think I kind of struggled in 2019-ish and then COVID hit, and I just kind of was off the radar at the beginning of that, working a bunch.
iRunFar: We all also were off the radar too.
Freriks: Yeah, especially that first wave. Yeah, I don’t know. Just seemed like it kind of put running on the back burner. And I feel like I’ve kind of caught flak before, reading things online with spectators talking about the elites in the sport and like, “Freriks never races” and stuff. But I don’t know, I was trying to just put my energy into work for a little while. I work as a registered nurse at Flagstaff Medical Center.
iRunFar: It could not have been an easy couple of years for you.
Freriks: No … Yeah, to put it frankly, I saw a lot of death and a lot of people really, really sick. And yeah, I think that first little bit was a little traumatic, it was a tough little bit. But yeah, very rewarding at the same time to, you know, be working as a nurse in the ICU at that time. And then slowly things kind of, you know, we’ve kind of had this up and down with COVID since, but started training more seriously. And once things were kind of under control a little more after that first wave, started training more and putting more of my focus back on running and kind of lead into this year.
I feel like I worked a bunch over the winter, I actually took a contract job in an ICU in Albuquerque. Yeah, so I didn’t train enough over the winter and had kind of a rough start to training in this spring but yeah, I think I kind of got over that hump and started feeling good right at the right time. So yeah, I’m excited to see where the fitness lies on Saturday.
iRunFar: Well, where we are at the Placer High School track, I think we saw you here in a brutally hot 2018. Nice to be back in different conditions.
Freriks: Yeah, definitely. It’s surprising to see this place all just wet and thunderstorms rolling in and stuff. It’s like night and day different. Gosh, yeah, that day. I took the long way to the track that last time.
iRunFar: I feel like a lot of people take the long way to the track.
Freriks: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, Western [States], I’m here because I would love the opportunity to do it again and run at Western States again.
iRunFar: So that’s what Canyons is to you is to try and get a Golden Ticket?
Freriks: Yeah, yeah, I think so. You know I’m trying not to have ultra-high expectations, but at the same time, like, I want to compete for a ticket and, you know, maybe even for the win on a great day. Yeah, but most of all it’s just earning a spot back on that starting line. I wasn’t in a place … [thunder]
iRunFar: [laughs] I haven’t done this type of interview before, as we stand under very tall metal!
Freriks: All the metal structures we are underneath right now. Yeah, I wasn’t quite in shape. I would have loved to go for it at Black Canyon, but I just wasn’t in a place with my fitness at that time to give it a shot then. So, Canyons kind of made the most sense, and getting more time on the trail was also appealing to me. So yeah, I think that’s kind of what Canyons is for me. It looks like a beautiful course and a great field in its own right but, yeah, I would love to run Western States again. It’s the ultimate goal.
iRunFar: You live in Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. To me, on paper, this course looks a little bit like a very long training day in the Grand Canyon, where there’s a crap load of climbing to finish any run.
Freriks: Yeah, definitely. I think … Yeah, I kind of attribute some of my early success in ultrarunning to just training in the Grand Canyon just because it’s a lot different than training in the mountains. You kind of get this, you can float down, and it beats up your quads by the end of the descent. And then, yeah, you’re finishing everything with just a really tough climb out of the canyon. Yeah, this course profile looks to be similar to that, just a ton of climbing, especially late in the effort.
iRunFar: A lot of running early and then runnable climbing, later.
Freriks: Yeah, yeah, and I think I’ve done a fair amount of training in the canyon this training cycle. And yeah, it’s all like — everything at least in the corridor in the Grand Canyon, a lot of it is runnable, so I got quite a bit of that in. Where like you’re, it’s definitely a run, not so much a hike. Very different than Europe, obviously, where you’re just either bombing down hills or hiking the uphills.
iRunFar: Your chest is on your knees.
Freriks: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Although I know the grades out here get steep but for the most part, it’s pretty runnable I think. Yeah, it will be, from what I hear those last 20 miles will be a lot to handle but …
iRunFar: A little bit of work.
Freriks: Yeah, yeah, for sure.
iRunFar: Well, I think we’ve pushed our luck well enough with the weather. Best of luck to you in your uphill run into the mountains.
Freriks: Yeah, thanks Meghan, excited for it.