The U.K.’s Tom Evans returned to the world of 100-mile racing to take third in the 2022 UTMB. In the following interview, Tom talks about how he managed the race, what went well, and his epic bromance along the way with the USA’s Zach Miller.
For more on how this year’s UTMB unfolded, read our 2022 UTMB results article.
Tom Evans Post-2022 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Sarah Brady of iRunFar. I’m here with Tom Evans who placed third in the 2022 UTMB. Well done, Tom.
Tom Evans: Sarah, thank you very much. Yeah, thank you.
iRunFar: So, can you talk us through your day? How did it go?
Evans: Yeah, I think for me, there was little expectation going into the race. This was all about the buildup and returning from serious injury and just be back racing again. So, I didn’t put any pressure on myself and the race started quick. As it was going to. And I sort of found myself flirting in and around the top 10 and sort of thought, “Okay. This is okay.” And after Saint Gervais, sort of pushed on a bit and ended up sort of top five or six. And then ran the first half of the night, Jim [Walmsley], Kilian [Jornet], me, and Zach Miller.
I then spent the next 12 hours with Zach. We sort of formed a nice bromance. It was great. And it was great having company, because there were times when he was helping me more than I was helping him, and there were times when I was helping him more than he was helping me. And I think it was really nice. And I think that’s sort of the great, the great bond formed with trail running that, yes, everyone’s racing against each other, but you’re also, you’ve got to respect the mountain, and having company is more important.
I guess my race plan was always, in an ideal world I’d get to Vallorcine with a shot at being able to get onto the podium. I got into Vallorcine and had been hearing mixed things about how other people were performing throughout the day. And sometimes it was a five-minute gap, and then a minute later it was a 20-minute gap. So it wasn’t really known, and I just went to absolute hell for leather from Vallorcine.
iRunFar: I saw you at Vallorcine. I was at that point and you did look really fresh. You looked kind of fresher than a lot of people.
Evans: Yeah. I think sort of my race management, that was definitely one of the things I think I really ticked the box for yesterday. It was making sure that I was eating enough, drinking enough, keeping myself cool. Just combining lots of different things, that it’s sort of like a spreadsheet. Something happens so okay, it’s getting hot. I need to keep myself cool. Or it’s getting cool, I need to keep myself warm.
It’s just listening to the body and being able to adapt to the conditions, that you’re able to put out the main performance when it matters. Because the race is won and lost in Courmayeur. You don’t finish until you cross the line. And it doesn’t matter if you’re half an hour behind at some point, because it’s irrelevant until you get into the finish.
iRunFar: It sounds like you ran a very strategic and sort of dispassionate race.
Evans: Yeah, in a race like this, 100 miles, it’s such a long way. I wanted to keep my cards pretty close to my chest until I had to play them. And that was always going to be Vallorcine. And I think that’s my style of racing, especially here, because it’s exactly what I did in 2018 at CCC. And yeah, same again. It played out in almost exactly the same fashion this year. I think, for me, it’s what works best to take some of the pressure off. I don’t like running, I prefer hunting rather than being hunted. So, for me, it was just such a fun day as well. It was so nice. And I’m able to stand up today, which is always a bonus.
iRunFar: That is good. You do look fresh. And did you think the conditions were pretty much optimal or how did you find that?
Evans: They couldn’t have been better. I think it just made it so easy. Being my first UTMB, this is the first one I’ve ever used a head torch in a race, to have those conditions. It was great. And I had planned things. Did I need to change my top? No. And actually, a lot of other people didn’t change their tops. They actually stayed in short sleeves. But did I feel fresh. I felt great in the last.
It’s very easy to say, “Oh, had I not done this, I might have been a bit quicker,” or, “Had I not done this, I might have also got really hot or really cold.” So I think, for me, being able to sort of take a breath and relax and say, “Okay, actually, this is the plan. You are going to put a long sleeve on.” Or, “Okay, at this point you’re going to put a short sleeve on. And you’re going to change your cap or a Buff or whatever it’s going to be. And yeah, it’s that self-management and that race management which you need to be able to adapt to the conditions. But, yeah, the conditions. If I was being really picky, it did get warm yesterday. But yeah, the night, it was just perfect.
iRunFar: And you said in your pre-race interview that you’re really comfortable with night running and you were kind of looking forward to that. So did that kind of play out to your expectations?
Evans: Yeah, pretty much. I think we had a really nice group of just four of us in the night and I was actually quite surprised it was so few. I thought that there would be far more people in that league. I thought it was more like 10 to 15, and it was almost like a well-oiled breakaway in cycling. When Kilian sort of pushed to the top of Pyramides, I [was thinking], we’ve got a very long day. This is my first [100 miler]. Yes, I’ve done a 100 miler before, but you can’t compare Western States to UTMB. And I just thought right, relax, we’ve still got such a long time. Let them go. If they hold it, they hold it. Great. And if they don’t, then great. You can just relax and be like, okay, great. Well, I’ll just keep following my race plan and if things pan out how I think they’re going to then I’ll show my cards when I need to.
iRunFar: Yeah. And you and Zach stayed together, I believe for like 100k, was it?
Evans: Yeah, it was a long time. A long time. Which was great. And we’ve run together a little bit before. We raced the 2018 Trail World Championships together. We’ve run a bit together, and we’re very similar. And we probably took half an hour leading, and then half an hour sat behind. We had a phrase that we used yesterday. It was “Steady Eddy.” It was we’re not going to win this race by pushing really hard at this early stage. Yes, there might come a time when we need to push. But let’s see how things unfold before we show our cards.
I would absolutely love to have finished at the same time as Zach. He was instrumental in my performance. Just before Vallorcine, he said, “Look, I’m starting to feel really rubbish.” And that’s when I started feeling, I say good, not as rubbish. There’s no way I would have finished where I did without the support from him. Amazing that he can still finish and still finish top five. I think he had a pretty hard last couple of hours. It was just great. I think that’s the thing I love about trail running is you can have two guys fighting at the podiums together, but actually, you can use each other to help and get through it. It was really nice.
iRunFar: It’s almost like your competitors are your teammates in the sport sometimes.
Evans: Yeah, precisely. You can perform so much better with their help.
iRunFar: Yeah. And did you have a bit of a fall? Did I hear something about a broken finger?
Evans: Yeah. Whether it’s broken, it’s very … it’s twice the size of the other one. We’ll see. I’m too much on cloud nine in the moment to get it sorted. So I’ll get back to the U.K., see what’s happening, and then it’s only a finger.
iRunFar: Yeah, you have several more of them. It’ll be fine.
Evans: Yeah, exactly. They’re not that useful, so.
iRunFar: Okay. Well, congratulations. And thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us.
Evans: Thank you very much. I look forward to seeing you soon.
iRunFar: So after this race, will you be treating yourself to a new dog?
Evans: Yes. We have two dogs already. We will get a dog to train with. Yeah, a dog that can run. We don’t know exactly what the dog is yet, but we know its name. The dog is called Cham. Yeah, super excited, so we’ll figure that out. And four more chickens as well.
iRunFar: Oh, brilliant.
iRunFar: Did you have to podium to get a dog or is that always going to be allowed?
Evans: It was podium, but had it not been podium, I would have got one anyway. So this is, at least I can justify it now.
iRunFar: Fair enough. Good plan. Okay, thank you.