Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Looming Showdown

For the first point yet this year my mindset has begun to shift toward the looming showdown at Western States coming up at the end of next month. I know for some folks this mindset begins within hours of the end of WS the previous year (think AJW), but this certainly hasn't been the case for me with this race. In fact I don't really like to approach any race where I put much of any time or energy into that race until about 6 weeks before the start. The lone exception for me in this regard has been the 2 times I've tried the Iditarod Invitational and the time I rode the Great Divide Race. My result in those three events: 3 DNFs. For me I think I end up a little burnt out (mentally) before I even start a race when I focus on one specific event for too long. I operate a lot better when my most important run is my next run and not some run several months in the future.

There's been the anonymous troll posting comments on this blog recently about Western States being "the race of my life" and how I'm crazy to be doing other "two-bit" races recently when Western States is only a couple months away. To that I say that my next race is always "the race of my life." No matter how low key and unestablished a race is, the next race I'm running is always where the majority of my focus is going to be. Right now Western States is the most important race to me, but only because it's my next race, and this has me getting more excited and focused on it than I have been all year.

The field this year looks to be even more solid than last year. The top four finishers from last year are all returning; Hal looks to be ready to be a serious factor again this year; Dave is a bit of a wild card at the 100 mile distance but I certainly know that he has the potential to win anything he lines up for; Ian Sharman showed at Rocky Raccoon that he can run with anyone in the world on a good day; Kaburaki and Bragg are both going to be back this year after a year off last year; and among rookies, both Mike Wolfe and Ryan Burch look to be in killer shape right now. Beyond these folks you have most of last year's top 15 returning plus a few other lesser known rookies who could make a little noise (Fanselow, Olmstead, and Loutitt to name a few). It's also worth mentioning that there are no fewer than 3 or 4 women who need to be talked about not just in terms of the women's race, but in terms of potential for very solid overall finishes (Greenwood, Ortiz, Semick - not sure if Kami is actually running - and Garneau to name a few). I think the women's field is so strong at the very top that if a few of them are having good days they could possibly push each other within reach of Ann Trason's "untouchable" course record. In all I think the competition for the top 15-20 places in the race will be significantly deeper than it was last year. Last year you had over a 2.5 hour gap between first and 10th place; a 3 hour gap between first and 15th place; and almost a four hour gap between first and 20th place. My guess is that all of these gaps will be significantly smaller this year. Last year there were about 35 runners who finished under 20 hours. With similar course conditions this year I wouldn't be surprised to see 50 finish under 20 hours. These are of course all hypothetical projections and it's been no secret that there is currently a ton of snow in the Sierras. Depending on what the weather does in the next 6 weeks we could easily end up with the largest amount of snowpack ever at Western States. That could throw a lot of these projections out of whack.

Anyway, back to my place in all of this. Last year I won Western States. This fact has potential to put a huge amount of pressure on me this year. So far I haven't felt too much of that pressure. I'm planning to do everything I can to have a good race, but I think a big part of this will be how relaxed and laid back I remain about the whole thing. In many ways I think my ability to do this has become one of my biggest strengths as a competitive runner. Now that Western States is creeping closer and it now is my next race, I imagine a bit of pressure (both self imposed and through other people's comments/expectations) will slowly creep in over the coming weeks. I think being back in Alaska will help with this. Up here it's really easy to just get out in the mountains and run each day, without having it feel contrived or specific to a purpose of preparing for one particular day that is still almost two months away. Certainly you can "train" in this way no matter where you live, but here in Juneau everything is kind of closed off in an idyllic little bubble, and it's pretty easy to escape the pressure, stress, and anxiety of competitive running (and of many things in life). This combined with the challenging terrain and the thriving running community makes Juneau the perfect place to prepare for a race like Western States. It's so easy here to focus on the next run rather than on a run that is still almost two months away.

As another way of avoiding putting too much focus on Western States I am pretty certain I am going to run the race with no pacer(s) and with minimal or no crew. I think there are benefits to having a pacer and a crew, but I also think that in many cases the extra stress of logistics and preparation that goes into planning all of this can be as much a detriment as it can be a benefit. Especially in a race like Western States where the aid stations or so well stocked and run, and where your crew can really only get to you at 4 or 5 points on the course anyway. I think it was very beneficial to have Dave out there pacing me last year, but that was last year, and that was my experience of that race. This year I want to experience Western States as more of a solo thing and I don't think this will necessarily have a negative effect on my performance potential. It will just be different. And certainly I have had plenty of experience racing long hard races without pacers. Of the eight 100 mile races I've run I've had a pacer with me for about 35 total miles.

At any rate Western States should be a really exciting event to be a part of again this year. It's been fun and exciting to start thinking about it a bit more in the past several days. But it's also really fun and exciting to be back here in Juneau where there are so many enticing places to run that I'm much more excited about where I'm going to run tomorrow than any runs I have planned in the future.


Charlie said...

Hi Geoff,

You are closer to the action. Do you think Tony will start?

Andrew Vize is probably our best Australian entry for years. This has been a focus race for him all year. He won the very tough Great North Walk 100 miler last year and he is in top shape.

Ill be there to support Andrew and check out what all the fuss is about this race.

Geoff said...

hey charlie,
good to hear there's a top dog coming over from australia. i'll keep my eyes out for him.

i haven't seen tony much in the past couple months. i have no idea whether he'll be ready to go for this one, but I sure hope so.

Unknown said...

Geoff, your mindset leading up to an event is something that we all can learn something from. Most of take life to seriously anyway. Running lets us slip into another realm. The best to you in the next 5-6 weeks on your journey toward WS.

Unknown said...

Glad to see than you are calm about the WS100. I am sure it will be a serious and talented field; looking forward to reading more about it. Also hope Juneau treats you well.

Speedgoat Karl said...

When I used to be one of the faster guys, I would put pressure on myself to do well. I never did well with pressure. I now just run the next race like it's my last, and enjoy it. What the outcome is...is just another race.

And cheers to you for not using a "pacer-mule", it's far more rewarding to run races ourselves, much like UTMB where no pacers are allowed, it really evens the playing field.

Run it and have fun, that's what matters.

Olga said...

No Meghan for the ladies? May be we need to extend WS by 10 miles then:)

Alex Gillespie said...


I hope things go well at WS100. It is going to be mega! I can't wait to long into ultralive.net and see when you make your move!

Lots of good Europeans to comepte against too - a practice run for UTMB!

all the best withe preparation.

Dominic Grossman said...

I agree on the no pacer thing. When you have a pacer, it's sort of like another piece of unecessary comfort gear. They provide a little mental crutch when you are having a tough time. I think everyone should do what they think will help them enjoy the race the most (whether that's an ipod full of top 40 hits and compression shorts, or 9 different pairs of custom fit shoes), but if your task simply is running 100 miles in the mountains, get everything unecessary out of the way of doing that. The closer you are to your environment, the more enhanced your experience of it is..

Geoff said...

agree 100% with everything you say here.

Eric B said...

Great post Geoff, I love your mindset going into the race. It's funny, that you mention doing the race without crew or pacer. I'm just your mid pack happy ultra runner. But, I just decided to do the KM100 next month without crew or a pacer. And I'm glad the Speed Goat is with you on that thought. Thanks guys.

Michael Alfred said...
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Michael Alfred said...


I was out on the course as a spectator the last two years. Your performance last year was probably one of the best all time. No pressure but I have a feeling you're going to be hard to beat this year.


sharmanian said...

Geoff, after reading this I had another look at the entrants list and there was hardly anyone I could think of adding to make it more competitive (assuming Anton is ok to run). This should be fun :) Then a rematch for most of the elite field at UTMB - what a summer!

Rogue Valley Runners said...

Geoff - you're just announcing this no pacer thing so that everyone stops asking if they can pace you.

Just let them know about how you dropped your last pacer there, Dave Mackey.


billf said...

Geoff, I am out of WS. Just got back to some short runs this week after 3 months off while working thru a low-back injury, and I'm still not out of the woods yet. Have fun.

Brick said...

Hi Geoff,

A bit more info about Andrew Vize.
He is racing TNF100 but oly doing the pairs option so it will be intersting to see how he is going.
The last time I talked to him it was all going very well.

Kilian will also bo doing TNF100 so will again be intersting to see how he is going after his very successful winter in Europe.

Good luck with WS100.


Speedgoat Karl said...

Sharm, there's a couple of guys and gals that didn't get in WS that could add a nice element to the field. Not only the men, but the women. But it is what it is, if they didn't get in WS, they got in Hardrock. HR will be alot more competitive than people think. I guess Im off subject.

Kill it out there man!

Keep it fair, keep the pacers at home. :-)

Hone said...

Pacers are for the birds.

Agiofws said...

Isn't Kilian Jornet going to run the WS 100 miler this year ?

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us here Geoff. I will be working at the Forest Hill aid station this year (as I did last year). Looking forward to seeing you there (although it is only a brief glimpse).

Wyatt Hornsby said...

"I operate a lot better when my most important run is my next run and not some run several months in the future."

Hi Geoff! Those are great words of wisdom whether one is going for a win like you or just shooting to finish. Well said, as always.

Stuart said...

Great post Geoff

I'm getting excited too just thinking of how WS is going to play out - Anything could happen out there both in the mens and womens field. Anyone think someone could go sub 15?

With regards to pacers. In Scotland, the West Highland Way race has a rule where like WS no one is allowed a pacer before the 60 mile mark. The difference being that with the WHW race after 60 miles if you are within 4 hours of the leader at at that point you are not allowed a pacer.

jacob said...

Is it weird that I feel like I am carrying your anxiety for you? I'm more excited and nervous for you than you are maybe. Too bad over here in Georgia I'll have to wait for some one to post the results on facebook or blog.

Agiofws said...

Hello isn't Killian Jornet going to be running the Western states this year... ?

Geoff said...

yeah, kilian is running. he would be included in the top 4 returning that i mentioned.

AJW said...

What are you saying bro, that I'm obsessed with WS?

Agiofws said...

At some point your name popped up in twitter mentioning that you were at the TNF100 bluemountain start line in Australia ... :) hahah ...

Matt said...

kinda random question: how many feet of climbing turned-up on the revised SBER course?

Rock on.

anna sinden said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anna sinden said...

good luck geoff! i'm excited for you so you can keep calm yourself.
and if you're not using your pacers, can i borrow them? my speed is walking so anyone will do.

Cloud said...

Funny how Mr. Roes left Kilian out of his post. Maybe its cause he knows Jornet is going to roast him in that California canyon heat and up and back down the mountains. I mean isn't Kilian on a whole different level anyway? While Roes is winning two-bit races in Santa Barbara Kilian is out there winning big ones like UTMB. We all know Kilian came up short at WS100 not because he was less of a talent (far from it) but because he had some trouble in the heat. Its a safe bet I would think that Kilian is going to return to Squaw in late June wanting to eat Roes lunch and then puke it up on the soon to be former champion. Also, incredible to me that Roes who has a heat races in late june would venture to Alaska. Me thinks perhaps he's escaping the pressure because its gotten to him since this is after all truly the race of his life.

momroes said...

Mr. Roes did not leave Killian out of his race report - if you knew anything and read the report he states that the top 4 from last year would be there and in case you didn't remember, Killian was one of the top 4 from last year.

He is not escaping to Alaska - FYI - he is holding two running camps in Alaska and has had this planned for a long time SO before you go saying things that are not true, you should know the facts.

Dave Mackey said...

Typical Cloud.. all thunder, no lightning.

jacob said...

Hahah Dave! Go Momma Roes!!

shawn said...

After witnessing what Killian did for the first 75 miles of WS last year, I would be worried of him as well if I was Geoff.

However, Geoff will not let that get to him and will run his race.

Cloud, last years Western States was the race of Geoff's life, did he need an escape from the pressure for that one?

Have fun in Alaska with training and with you camps Bro!

Speedgoat Karl said...

Cloud....you're an idiot!

I recall you saying you respect me, that's a one way street, I don't respect you.

Have a good day running out there boss.

mom roes, thanks for correcting mr idiot. :-)

Wyatt Hornsby said...

One lesson I've learned after many years in PR is to never acknowledge baseless accusations and innuendo. Respond only to that which could be potentially perceived as true, and clearly in this case with this particular "troll," what he/she is saying has no foundation for truth, is clearly garbage, and is merely designed to elicit response. So the best response to this "troll" is no response. Responding to him on this blog and comment board only motivates him/her to keep trolling. But if those on here perceive it all as fun, then by all means go for it!

Maintaining my own blog, I often get trolls but, because I approve/delete all comments, I'm able to prevent trolls from gaining an audience. Something to consider?

Geoff, good luck at Western States and may you enjoy these next several weeks back home in Alaska.


Local Mind Media said...

Yeah, Geoff went to Alaska because it's so hot in Nederland CO (39 high tomorrow) - reinforces momroes' plea for grasping facts. Geoff told me in early December that he'd be heading to AK this spring.

Only a worthless loser would try to disparage a standout in his sport, who happens to be a decent, down to earth, humble guy. Says a lot about the moron aptly self-branded "cloud".

Blair Mann said...

Hi Geoff,

I love your approach to running. If it becomes stressful, why do it. Obviously you are competitive or you would not be have finished first in all your 100 milers :) But you keep it simple and enjoyable. You don't get caught up in the hype. I am only a novice amateur and don't understand the pressures of doing it professionally, but to me that magnifies your philosophy. I sincerely hope to one day be able to scrounge up the time and money to attend your running camp and learn from the best...good luck at WS!

Cloud said...

Roes will get crushed at WS100 by Killian, the reasons for this:

Killian is younger
Killian has more mountain expertise
Kilian is more focused and disciplined and has not run retarded build/up races like Roes
Killian is smarter
Last but not least; Killian has a hunger for the Cougar trophy like no one else

Killian wants WS100 title more than anyone else. Trust me. With that desire Killian will blow away the field and Roes will be an also ran.

Cloud said...

The runners Roes has been competing against over past months are second class runners compared to Killian. Your countrys Dave Mackey, Krupicka and yes Roes are worthy of being only Killian's pacer.

shawn said...

Cloud, keep up the good humor, I am sure it's a great motivator for Geoff. If Killian was smarter wouldn't he be holding last years Cougar trophy?

tim white said...

Poor delusional troll! This sick creature is probably sitting all alone in a dark room.. wearing a chicken suit.. murmuring strange quotes.. with a very odd nervous twitch and eating an unhealthy amount of peanut butter covered twinkies... hoping more than anything in his Kilian obsessed fairy land.. to get us all to respond to his dumb comments... all coming from someone of far lesser intelligence than anyone else in the room. ITS OK CHICKEN MAN TROLL... WE UNDERSTAND YOUR OBVIOUS DISABILITIES. Oh jesus hes challenging a cardboard cut-out of Geoff to a race down to the corner circle K for more twinkies... Oh jesus!!

Speedgoat Karl said...

Cloud is simply an obsessed fan of Killian Jornet. I'm sure he's got photos on the wall like Joe Davola in Seinfeld when he had creepy photos of Elaine. At least it's entertaining. :-)

dvroes said...

Last year at w.s. I saw an incredible young runner in Kilian and a very down to earth and humble man much like all of the American (and Canadian) runners. To think that this will be a one or even two man race is absurd. There are so many great runners that have a shot at winning this thing - I can't wait to see Karl's predictions. We all know that there are going to be low points in a 100 mile race and the one who can take care of their body and minimize the bad stretches will come away with the win.
Last year I saw a lot of sunshine and I don't recall any Clouds.
Geoff, I wish we could be there again, but we will all be here glued to the computer anxiously awaiting every update.

Charlie said...

I think the correct spelling is Kilian - with one "l"

Kilian just ran a "retarded" 100k in Australia this past weekend - breaking the course record by 45 minutes. By way of comparison the race is tougher than Miwok (due to elevation and technicality) with Devon Crosby-Helms estimating an 11hour finish to be on par with her 9:30 run at Miwok.

Irunfar has a good race wrap-up

Matt said...

Geoff Roes 1
Spaniard. 0

Next question.

fabrice said...

so much talk, Geoff pacing himself, Anton going crazy, Killian with out water ALL are crazy :-) and great runners. Last year WS100 was so good and may be not as good as the UTMB this year. 2011 in Chamonix will be crown the best runner>or may be all of us are just chasing Yannis Kouros that himself was chasing Phidippides AH AH!!! If only Yannis would be part of that!!

Agiofws said...

Yanis Kouros has deliberatly left himself out of this running era ... whom or what is to blame i don't know. I'd love to see him compete in such a race UTMB or ws100, or even the Spartathlon, But then again he doesn't like Trails but only road races...

Good luck to you Geoff in the ws100

Bipolar Boy said...

Hi Geoff,

Good luck for WS100. If i may just ask a quick question as a back of the packer and also coming from England too. How on earth do you prepare for the descents in the WS100 if you don't have huge mountains to go down therefore not being able to prepare your quads sufficiently just by running down hills.


Jason Schlarb said...

From spending a little time in Europe, what I've read on blog, and word of mouth, Eropeans REALLY get into individual endurance sports both as fans and participants. As we all know US enurance athletes (with the exception to maybe Lance!) get very little attention and ultra runners in particular... yeah.

I think this Cloud chracter is a true "fanatic" of his European sports star Kilian.

As an analogy, geoff is Jeter from the Yankees and Killian is some star from the Red Sox and Cloud is some dude from NY. Cloud absoulely hates Geoff with a passion and would say anything to bring him down and make his Yankees look better.

Or maybe Cloud is just a freak from the states.

But really, if this blog was for two stars from big time rival Baseball teams, there would be all sorts of Cloud like comments.

I don't mean to rationalize Clouds assinine comments, but maybe that is what is up here.

P.S. Looking forward to seeing the Red Sox crush the Yankees... again!

Scott said...

There are a few aspects to ultra running that really set it apart from any other sport. One is that any schmoe with an entry fee and some motivation (like myself) can actually compete in the very same event as the pros. And where this might also be the case in shorter runs, in ultras the pros go out of their way to engage and converse with the slower runners. This is very much the reason that anyone who actually participates and also considers themselves a fan has so much respect for ALL the top runners. I simply cannot imagine any trash talk from the sidelines is coming from any sort of participant from these events. I would guess those trying to stir up asinine emotion have never toed the line in so much as a 5k.

Charlie said...


Cloud, in prior posts, has claimed to have been a top US triathlete and a veteran of numerous Western States, Hardrock and other 100 mile races.

He claims to be a well known supercoach in the ultra community and is offering his sage advice (for free!) to Geoff and Tony to convice them that they are stupid and need to adjust their training and racing otherwise Kilian will teach them a lesson.

Cloud does prefer to remain anonymous, for reasons that remain unclear, although it does allow him to pile on the abuse and profanities in safety.