After finishing 14th at the previous edition of the Western States 100, Tyler Green took things to a whole new level with his second-place finish in 2021. In the following interview, Tyler walks us through his truly methodical approach to the pacing, psychology, and logistics which all helped to make his performance happen.
Be sure to read our results article for the full race story and for links to other post-race interviews.
Tyler Green Post-2021 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, I’m with Tyler Green, it’s the day after your second-place finish at the 2021 Western States 100. Hi Tyler. Congratulations.
Tyler Green: Thank you so much.
iRunFar: So we’re only 14 or so hours after your finish, it’s a hot Sunday morning here at the Placer High School track, how is the second-place finish at Western States sinking in?
Green: It’s just feeling really good and it’s a little bit unbelievable to be in this place. I mean it’s something that you dream of any kind of wonder if something like that might happen but at the same time it’s weird to have it actually materialize.
iRunFar: Now you ran this race in 2019, finish 14th place, raced your way back to Western States again. You wanted to do better didn’t you?
Green: I definitely did, yeah, I felt like first time around was just soaking in the experience and honestly tried to—I had a race plan that was probably kind of meant for hot year and it wasn’t a hot year. And the race got away from me very, very quickly. Kind of started in like 30th and move my way up to 14th, which I was happy with but knew that I could improve upon that.
iRunFar: You said a few minutes ago that you started a bit more aggressively this year than previous years but also, in my mind it seemed conservative compared to what the guys at the front of the pack were doing.
Green: Yeah, I felt like it was appropriate, I mean there’s one point where I stopped and tied my shoe going up the Escarpment just to make sure that everything was in place and stuff, my shoe is tied but I just wanted to adjust some things. But I knew that it was going too fast and I sat back with Patrick Reagan and we were chatting and it’s like, it’s okay, we’re in a good place.
iRunFar: This was a hot year in comparison to 2019, which was a, I don’t know, rather warm year, something like that. How did the conditions on the ground in the canyons feel to you?
Green: I have to give major credit to my crew, they kept me so cool and I honestly feel like that was one of the biggest keys to a successful run. It was just like, how cool can I stay and how coolheaded also can I stay within the canyons. I thought, I’m just going to really pull back here and kind of check my heart rate, make sure it’s staying low, and get cool as much is possible as well.
iRunFar: Speaking of getting cool, you are fashioning a pretty interesting ice vest.
Green: That was just something Nike provided us, it has two ice packs on the front and two in the back in my coach at the bottom of Bath Road, he put that on, or we put that on just to kind of have a longer period of cooling. To the point where at Foresthill I was legitimately cold. And actually I’m a little too cold now.
Green: Yes. Which is okay.
iRunFar: Which is a good problem to have.
Green: Yeah, good place to be.
iRunFar: Can you talk a little bit about the racing dynamic, let’s say starting at half way, something like that. There’s a lot going on, guys are flipping back and forth, coming into Foresthill you’re in what position?
Green: I saw Max [King] on the way up Bath Road and I was in seventh at that time. And then leapfrogged him to six as we were leaving Foresthill.
iRunFar: And then heading down Cal Street, sort of the infamous downhill into the hottest part of the day there was a lot of action there.
Green: Yeah, my impression of that area is that yes, it’s the downhill section and it’s supposed to be kind of easy but she also get this burst of adrenaline from Foresthill and so I told my crew, keep me really calm through Foresthill and let’s not get all jacked up and then I had my pacer Yassine Diboun, and he’s a legend in the running community, such a positive guy and has a lot of experience at Western States as well.
iRunFar: Probably endless stories?
Green: Yes, endless stories and just imagery, he’s like, the track is a love magnet and it’s just going to get stronger and stronger, pulling you in. And he’s like, have I told you about the rocking chairs, this is the type of stories you’re going to sit back in your rocking chair and be like, I went and did that. I didn’t say it, did that. So things like that and they just kept coming.
iRunFar: The track is a love magnet.
Green: Yes it is, well it is.
iRunFar: I love it. The dynamic going from out of podium position to in to podium position happened in the last 20 miles, can you walk us through that?
Green: Really it was happening over Cal Street, I mean so six place at Cal one and heard that it was eight minutes to the next guys, I didn’t know who they were. And then at Cal to, came in with Tim [Tollefson], Drew [Holmen] was there, wow there’s two people right here. That would’ve been fourth place so now you’re starting to think, and there’s so much more racing to go, it’s like, don’t get to into it but we’re in a really good position. And then Drew and I ran a good, I think 10, 15 miles together. I mean not officially together but kind of like he would get a little gap and I passed him at one point and I was like, I don’t really know if I need to be trying to make a big move here. Going up Green Gate, going over the river we were all together.
iRunFar: You and Drew, were you intentionally working together? Was it just sort of coincidental? What was the mood there?
Green: I think there is a little bit of both, of course it’s going to come to blows at some point and he’s a teammate, he’s a guy that I like of course were also…
iRunFar: We’re not tying this race.
Green: Yes, and both of us were asking about Hayden [Hawks] as well and I heard Hayden was 25 minutes ahead at Foresthill and by Green Gate that was down to 11, which gave me some confidence.
iRunFar: When did you run across Hayden who was running in second place at that time?
Green: So both of us came in, both Drew and I came into Auburn Lakes Trails together and we heard it was eight minutes at that point, 11 minutes at Green Gate and then at Brown’s Bar it was two minutes and shortly after that I caught him.
iRunFar: What went through your head in that moment of, I am now in second place at the Western States 100?
Green: While the first one was like, I guess winning is out of the window because Jim’s probably already on the track. But this is a pretty cool place to be in, let’s just, rather than it being turning into being the hunted I just thought, no just keep a relentless and fluid push to the finish.
iRunFar: You had a great last section, I think your splits from Pointed Rocks in were a minute per minute per mile faster than Drew.
Green: He definitely went through some rough points in that part, I think he had some pretty significant cramping but yeah I mean there’s that nice, easy grade up to Robie Point at first and was able to just run that and legs are getting a little bit lighter in the central governor releases a little…
iRunFar: It knows you’re near. And then the finish line of this race, I think is an incredible experience. You’ve got a one-mile paved downhill and at that time of night here in Auburn, California, people are sitting out, it’s like they’re watching a parade and you’re the floats. Can you talk about that?
Green: It’s just fun. And to be, I think when it’s at its height that was really cool, those are the moments that you’ve got to absolutely saver and it’s not about being there at the finish line, it’s about being right here in this moment and just soaking it in.
iRunFar: And for me I love the idea of a 300 meters on a track finish of a mountain 100 miler, especially when there’s hundreds of people here cheering you. What did you feel like to put down it teensy bit of legs speed at the end of 100 miler?
Green: I don’t know, and honestly I didn’t want to sprint it in but you don’t feel discomfort anymore, it’s just gone, it’s what happens, our bodies are amazing things.
iRunFar: You finish second at Western States, you earn an M2 bit before the 2022 to race if you wanted, I realize you’re just a few hours after finishing this race, are you thinking about it?
Green: Yeah absolutely, I mean having an M on a bib has been a goal of mine and to finish in the top 10 at all has been a goal of mine. I also really want to move towards big mountainous running I feel like the races like Cascade Crest 100 Mile or the Wonderland Trail, that just felt like that was very much my, just felt really strong in that space so it makes me, of course I want to do UTMB at one point, I’m a teacher so sometimes the summer doesn’t quite align with it because it comes right when school starts. That said, I would like to come back, of course.
iRunFar: Well it will be fun to see what you decide to do next. Perhaps all of the above?
Green: Yes, I want to dabble in it all. It’s a great place to be, running ultras.
iRunFar: Running ultras is a great place to be. Congratulations on your second-place finish, Tyler.
Green: Thank you so much and thank you for the work you do.
iRunFar: Thank you.