Q&A with UltrAspire Athletes Ian Sharman & Nick Clark as they toe the line at Wastach to finish off the GrandSlam of UltraRunning
The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning™ award is recognition for those who complete four of the oldest 100 mile trail runs in the U.S. The “Slam” consists of officially finishing the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Run and the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run all in the same year. The Grand Slam of Ultrarunning™ Award was established in 1986, when Tom Green was the first finisher.
With the Grand Slam coming to a close with the Wasatch 100 we wanted to ask the leaders Ian Sharman and Nick Clark a few questions. Krissy Moehl, athlete ambassador asks the tough questions…ok not really tough questions but ones we thought you would want the answers to:
Nick Clark finishing Western States – photo by: Michael Lebowitz
One moment, pick your favorite moment of the Grand Slam thus far.
Nick - Finishing Vermont within a few minutes of Ian, then sitting around and chatting afterwards realizing that we were both totally destroyed, having left everything out on a course that we both completely underestimated.
Ian - I think the moment that’ll stick in my mind the most so far is summiting Hope Pass at Leadville on the way out, around 45 miles into the race. I felt better than I’d expected and had just moved into second with a great view from the high point of the race as well as seeing Nick Clark and Ryan Sandes just behind. It felt like the race was really on and that the rest of the day would be thrilling.
When you decided to run the Grand Slam, what did you think would be the toughest part?
Nick - Recovery, without a doubt.
Ian - It’s new territory for me to run 100 milers remotely close together so I expected to feel progressively worse through each race as my body deteriorated. So far that hasn’t been the case, but the final Grand Slam race, Wasatch Front 100, is the toughest course so I don’t want to speak too soon. So far the easiest of the four courses is the one that felt the worst (Vermont 100) so this summer has made me keep trying to learn since there’s always something to refine in training and coaching.
What have you focused on to ensure you can run well at each of the four races?
Nick - Similar to the question above, recovery is a key and often under-appreciated piece of the ultra-training puzzle. This summer has taught me to take it a lot more seriously. Aside from recovery, race pacing – keeping it easy early – has been critical.
Ian - Recovery between races has been a real focus – not too much running, lots of rest and plenty of hiking. I won’t get any fitter between each 100 as it’s only three or four weeks between each, so healing the body is the priority.
Any predictions, thoughts, hopes going into the grand finale at Wasatch?
Nick - I would be elated if I could repeat as the Wasatch champion, having won the event previously in 2010, but there are plenty of talented runners in the field, so definitely no predictions.
Ian - On paper, this is Nick’s style of race and not mine, but I think it’ll be close and there’s a fair chance that the two of us end up very close and maybe even challenge each other for the win–like at Leadville.
What is something that has happened or you have learned from doing this series that surprised you?
Nick - That you can still run an historically competitive time at Leadville despite feeling like death warmed up for the last 13 miles from May Queen to the finish.
Ian - I expected to take longer to recover after each race but have found my body is adapting to the successive 100s and each time I’ve felt like my legs bounced back a day or two earlier than last time. It’s amazing what the body can adapt to and just what’s possible if you just let yourself try. I don’t think Nick and myself are special in that way – it’s something that applies to every one of us.
Key hydration piece(s)?
Nick - I have had great success in using the Isomeric 8oz bottle as a second handheld for diluted gels in combination with a full sized bottle for just water. I’m also a big fan of the 8oz’er for shorter races where a couple of squirts of water are all that you need and for which a full 16-22oz bottle would be overkill.
Ian - I’ve used both handhelds and hydration packs from UltrAspire in the races so far, depending on the distances between aid stations and the weather. The Alpha and Spry backpacks have been ideal, plus various versions of the Isomeric 20 oz handhelds. Looking after hydration has been an art and a science through these races, especially with heat, humidity and altitude to deal with across the first three races.
The final race of the Grand Slam is the Wasatch 100 race which commences on Friday September 6th. Follow the race on Twitter: #wasatch100