He linked up with Hoka One One, won the Tarawera 100K in new Zealand for the second time, won the Speedgoat 50K and set a new CR, and then rounds it all off with a win at the Pikes Peak Ascent, leading the US men’s team to a gold medal in the World Long Distance Mountain Challenge! More recently, he had a strong second place finish on an “exponential” technical course at the Rut 50K.
Not satisfied with just running and winning tough mountain races, he has also been busy exploring his creative genius, crafting a new movie, MUT Runner, that premieres in Estes Park during the 2014 Trail Running Conference, as well as producing informative training videos on his YouTube channel.
We caught up with Boulder, CO, based Sage recently, and asked him a range of searching questions….
You have had an amazing year racing. What has been your most satisfying race to date, and why?
The most satisfying race for me so far this year was winning the Pikes Peak Ascent World Long Distance Challenge. I felt that in that event I executed an optimal race strategy and that it allowed me to barely pull off the win with a come-from-behind surge in the last mile. Also, I had an 11-minute improvement on my time from the Ascent two years prior so it was real vindication that I’m actually improving as a runner! Finally, being able to help Team USA to a gold medal performance as part of the international competition was something I was really proud to take part in.
What does the rest of 2014 hold for you in terms of racing?
I’m going to southern France at the end of October for The Les Templiers which is a 47-mile trail race with 11,000′ of climbing. It is the oldest trail race in France. It will also be scored as a Team USA type of event so I will be representing the Red, White and Blue again. After that I will gear up for The North Face 50-mile Endurance Challenge Championships in San Francisco which is a December race.
You have been working and racing with Hoka One One this year. How important is your feedback to them as a manufacturer, and is there anything you can share about developments to come from Hoka?
It’s been really great working with HOKA ONE ONE. It’s the first company that’s given me a lot of prototype models to test early and they have embraced my own personal social media/marketing values also. It’s a refreshing change to be able to meet with corporate and talk about our shared passion for running and what new products will be available for runners. I know they appreciate any and all feedback not only from their pro athletes, but also from runners all over the world. They are working very hard to build a brand that has a shoe for every runner on every surface at every distance….so everything from track spikes for running the mile to road shoes for 5km to 100km and trail running shoes for the mountains and ultra marathons. Stay tuned for some really exciting new shoes next year!
The second annual Trail Running Conference is coming up in Estes Park, October 9-11. Your are one of the star athletes that will be attending, and will be leading a group run presented by Hoka, and an uphill form workshop. What are you looking forward to about this unique & exciting event?
I’m very excited to take part in the Trail Running Conference! Meeting new and familiar faces will be a highlight of the Conference for me. I’m really looking forward to all the positive energy, shared information, and celebration of the sport that we all love.
The Conference also features a Trail Running Film Festival on Friday October 10 where your film, MUT Runner, will premiere. We are very honored and excited to be the first opportunity to see this eagerly awaited movie in the USA. How important has it been to you to make the film, and what do difference do you think the film will make to trail, mountain and ultra running?
I’m honored to be able to show MUT Runner at the Reel Mountain Theater
in Estes Park as Part of the Trail Running Film Festival during the Trail Running Conference. As cliche as this sounds, it will be a dream-come-true to display my project on the big screen. MUT Runner has been bouncing around in my head for the last 1.5 years and it evolved as my immersion in the sport of Mountain-Ultra-Trail Running evolved. I’ve been blown away by amount of support I’ve received for the project and I think that that is a true testament to the generosity of the running community. I’m hoping the film will offer a unique perspective on what many top runners and long-term ambassadors of the sport perceive as an evolution in Mountain-Ultra-Trail Running. I’m hoping it will get every runner thinking about how our values and actions can help shape and preserve what we love about the sport despite (what appears to be) dynamic changes.
Estes Park is close to Rocky Mountain National Park, with more than 355 miles of gorgeous trails on tap. What is your favorite run in the area, and how often do you get to come up here?
I haven’t gotten to Estes Park often enough! The first time I was in Estes was several years ago for a family reunion. My brother and I decided we’d do our first 14er up Longs Peak and it was quite an experience with a storm rolling in while we were up by the summit (we made the summit though!). I’ve learned a lot about Colorado mountains since then. One of my favorite trail runs was up Flattop Mountain last summer. You really can’t beat the mountain lakes and views!
Your YouTube channel (VO2 Max productions) get rave reviews and has attracted a large following. What additions are in the pipeline, and where do you see the future direction for this channel?
Vo2max Productions has been a creative outlet for me to share my passion for video and running ever since college. It’s grown to about 15,000 subscribers and nearly 3 million video views (as of now). I’ve just started an informative “Training Talk Thursdays” series where I answer popular training questions from my viewers with a new video every Thursday. I like providing advice that people can apply to their own running with the ultimate goal of increasing overall enjoyment for the sport that has given me so much over the years. Sprinkled in on the channel will be race footage from events I’ve done as well as training runs up mountains and my travels around the world. I also have been known to do Avery beer reviews!
You and Sandi Nypaver provide coaching services for endurance athletes. What rewards you about seeing an athlete you have been coaching achieve or exceed their goals?
It’s very fulfilling to take part in helping an athlete progress and reach a level of running that they’ve been dreaming about. With training there are always a lot of variables and unique attributes that every individual brings to the table so we learn a lot from out athletes as well and respect the process. So far though, we have a 100% success rate with getting our athletes personal bests in the road marathon!
You are well known for your cast iron stomach, running a fast 800m after downing a stack of pancakes for example? Have you ever had any stomach issues racing or training?
Ha ha, yeah I don’t know how cast-iron my stomach actually is…usually it’s not a problem in racing, but I’ve a had my share of issues (i.e. like when I puked on the finish line at Grandma’s Marathon in 2007 when I qualified for my first Olympic Trials with 17 seconds to spare). I think doing things like the beer mile in college and the Kripsy Kreme 5km as well have been good training for the “eating contest” component that seems to be a part of racing any ultra!
You have spoken about the difference between your performance two years ago at Pikes, and this year. What were the critical factors that turned your performance around this year?
My critical factors:
1. Having adjusted better to the altitude of Colorado after living here a couple years and doing more 14ers.
2. Knowing the course, training on the course, and visualizing the different sections
3. Accumulated mileage and vertical gain with training age and experience from MUT Running
4. Taking 5 VFuel
gels during the race so I didn’t run out of sugar and bonk
What are your race plans and goals for 2015 and beyond?
I’m really tempted at trying my hand at a 100-mile race as well as competing in shorter distance mountain running events. I’d also like to take a run at the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim Fastest Known Time record (6:21). Finally, I’d like to try to qualify for my 3rd US Olympic Trials in the Marathon on the roads so I can go to LA in 2016 with a sub 2:18:00.
Thanks Sage! We wish you every success with your races in 2014, your plans for 2015, and to seeing you more often in Estes Park!
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Categories: Runners, Sports