Ultra-Tough To Beat: Exclusive Interview With Geoff Roes

Geoff Roes is the favorite heading into this weekend's Western States 100. Photo: Luis Escobar/ultrarunningmatters.org

The defending Western States champ is looking to make it 9-for-9 in 100-mile races.

Interview by: Duncan Larkin

When it comes to 100-mile ultra marathoners there is no one like Geoff Roes. The 35-year-old ace from Juneau, Alaska is unbeaten at the distance, having won eight straight 100-mile races. At last year’s Western States 100, a race now famous for its oppressive heat, Roes nearly dropped out at the 46-mile mark, but he decided to stick with it. Methodical and judicious by nature, Roes slowly reeled in his opponents and took the lead with only 12 miles to go. His winning time there, 15:07:00, set a new course record.

Roes returns to defend his title this weekend. He faces an incredibly talented field that includes the likes of 2009 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc champion, Kilian Jornet of Spain.

We caught up with Roes earlier this week as he arrived at the race’s start in Squaw Valley, California.

Competitor.com: You’re heading into this year’s Western States as the defending champion. How do you feel going into the race?

Geoff Roes: I feel good. I had a little bit of a head cold for the past week, so I’m definitely trying to get a lot of rest this week and hope that it is not much of an issue. I feel pretty relaxed about it. I’ve been focused on my day-to-day training really up until yesterday. Until I got here in California I hadn’t thought really much about it.

Now that you’re at the starting line in Squaw Valley, is your adrenaline starting to pump?

A little bit. I’m starting to bump into other folks that are rolling into town. You start talking about it. So, yeah, it’s gradually building up a little. I’m trying not to get too anxious and too worked up.

Because of the heavy snowpack, they are altering the course like they did last year. Have you adjusted your training in any way compared to last year?

I don’t think so. I train on a lot of snow at this time of year anyway. I’ve been up in Alaska for the last month, basically doing about one third of my running on consolidated snow pack. That’s kind of what I have to run on up there, so it’s the same as last year.

From reading your blog, I can tell that you take a very relaxed approach to the sport. Yet, you have yet to be defeated in the 100-mile distance. As you continue to succeed in ultras, are you starting to feel pressure to keep winning?

Definitely. A little bit. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel any pressure. But I think I feel less pressure that I did initially. When I first starting ultras, I started having success right off the bat. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I felt like if I didn’t win every time I raced I was sort of a failure. I really don’t feel that way about it at all any more. I’m gong out on Saturday to do everything I can to win this race. If it doesn’t work out that way, there are thousands of reasons why that could not happen. I feel like I’m pretty prepared to accept whatever the outcome is.

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