You finished 9th at the 2016 Headlands 50k this past weekend, which served as the USATF 50k Trail Championships. How was it out there?
Yeah, 9th place, it was a little disappointing to finish outside the top 5. It was a competitive race, so you have to respect that, but it was just an ok day for me. You try to prepare for races as well as possible, try to simulate race conditions and get specific training in for big races, but you also want to have fun in training and see beautiful places and run with friends. I live in Colorado and we only have a few months to get up high into the mountains—most of the year the mountains are covered in snow—so the majority of my runs this summer have been on big mountains, and at high elevations. That makes it tough to run fast! I didn’t quite have the leg speed I needed for this race. I never felt very good out there.
You know, at Headlands, we’re racing at sea level, the temperatures are cool, the climbs are relentless and constant but never longer than maybe 3 or 4 miles and never bigger than 1,500’, and the trails are really smooth and mostly non-technical. So it’s super runnable terrain and really fast terrain for a 50k. You have to have your wheels. I wasn’t quite there with my training because of my high-altitude summer. But I did about as well as I could on the day, I think. It was a stacked field, there were a bunch of fast runners, and I did my best to finish respectably on a day when I didn’t feel great.This was your second USATF 50k Championship of 2016—you finished 5th at the road Championships back in March. How did today’s run compare to that 5th-place finish?
I was training through the winter in Colorado for those road championships back in March, which meant that I was training exclusively on roads and bike paths, on flat-to-rolling terrain. I had a ton of specific training for that race, so I was really prepared to perform well there. As I said, I was having a bunch of fun in the mountains this summer, so I didn’t have the highly focused, highly specific preparation for these trail championships.
It’s good though because I got really strong from mountain running this summer and now I can turn that strength into speed for The North Face Endurance Challenge – San Francisco in December. That race is crazy competitive and you have to show up ready. I have several months to prepare for that and I’ve just seen a big chunk of the course out there at Headlands, so I think I’m in a good position to show up and put my best foot forward in December.
What SCOTT shoes and hydration pack did you use for the Headlands 50k?
That was a tough call! I’m hugely excited for the new SCOTT Supertrac RC to be released—that would have been a great shoe for this race but they won’t be out until the end of the year. So I went with the Kinabalu 3.0. It’s an excellent shoe for almost any trail race because it’s really versatile—it’s exceptionally smooth on roads and buffed out trail, but has enough tread and protection to get you through mud and rocks. They worked really well.
For hydration, I went with a pack—the 2017 TR4 RC pack. It’s next year’s version of the current TR6, only more minimalist. It fits into an A4 envelope. It’s insanely light; it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing anything when it’s on. I carried two soft flasks in the front pouches and had room for all my calories in the zipper pockets. Like the shoes, it worked perfectly.At SCOTT, we know it’s important to enjoy the journey as much as the race. The Headlands 50k took place just outside of San Francisco. Did you do anything noteworthy before or after the race?
Definitely! We stayed with friends in the city for a few nights before the race and explored a brewery and walked around a bunch. After the race we went to a winery a little farther north in the Sonoma region. We had so much fun—and enough wine [laughs]—that we signed up to become members of the winery by the end [laughs]. I guess we’ll be drinking lots of wine this year.
Job well done, Eric! Glad you enjoyed the race and the area.
Thanks! I’m really looking forward to running well here in December.
Discover more about Eric SENSEMAN on his Twitter and Instagram.