I am excited to bring you one of our first athlete interviews on the blog. Timothy Olson has just came off a huge win at this years Bandera 100k down in Texas which served as the USATF Ultra Championship for the 100k distance. Timothy ran a gutsy race taking it out hard with Dave James before James dropped around the 50k and Timothy opened up an 11 minute lead on race favorite Dave Mackey. Dave was the defending champion and curent cores record holder having run a 8:16:48 the previous year. As the race wore on into the late miles the heat started to take a toll on the runners and Timothy was able to out last Mackey’s late charge crossing the finish line ten minutes in front of the defending champion with a time of 8:28:38. Below are a few Q&A’s catching up with the Wisconsin native and National Champion Timothy Olson
Timothy Olson run's on the Pearl Izumi ultra team
How did you discover ultra marathon trail running?
When I moved to Ashland Oregon I jumped in at the Running store’s Wednesday night group run. They kept inviting me to longer and longer runs on the weekends which I thought they were trying to kill me. I didn’t realize i was running with Hal Koerner
, Ian Torrence
, Kyle Skaggs and Erik Skaggs, I thought they were just normal fun loven runners. I eventually realized they are Ultra legends and I really dug their vibe and the fun they had with running for a really long ways. The more I ran in the mountains the more I connected with myself and nature, I fell in love with the trails and plan on running on them for years to come.
What was your journey like from mid pack D3 high school cross-country runner to 100k National Champion?
It was a long journey. After high school I didn’t run much. After a few years of being a bum, I decide I wanted to get back in shape and started running more. I eventually started coaching High School and Middle school cross-country and track at Amherst High school. I really enjoyed helping the kids enjoy running and have a good time while working hard. Helping them helped me find the joy and peace that running brings. After I moved to Oregon I was in Massage therapy school where running was an excellent way to learn and memorize the muscles in my body and how they function. While going through school I just started running every morning which would increase with mileage and intensity over the last couple of years. When I wake up in the morning all I want to do is go outside, connect with nature and run free. That has been my training model for the last couple years. It’s worked pretty well so far.
You made the move to Ashland Oregon which is known for its running scene and beautiful trails. How has that move benefitted your training and involvement in the sport?
Moving to Ashland was the best decision ever. I have actually mountains to run with plenty of winding trails. From my front door, i am on a trail in 10 steps and actually could hit less than a mile of pavement from my front door to Mexico, via the PCT. The trail i have in Ashland make running so much more fun. I don’t have much desire to run around suburbs and skyscrapers in cities and such. I want to be away from the noise and ciaos of life. I run to be free from society and all the things this world tells you, you “need”. I really appreciate going for a peaceful run in the morning to start the day and ground my self to go and be a light in this world. I feel like running gives me this stillness inside that allows me to take that from the woods and put that happiness into the world as I interact with people throughout the day.
I love Wisconsin and love to visit, but running in the mountains has definitely changed the time I like to spend out running in them and I’m very happy with the move to the west coast.
You have finished near the top in a lot of recent major ultra’s but haven’t gotten a win until today. How were you able to get over that hump? Did you change your training at all? Did you have a different race strategy going into it?
I normally try to go out ‘smart’ and let people blow up. I start catching people towards the end, but come up short on races because i started to conservatively. This race I decided to go all out from the beginning. I was hurting towards the end, but had enough in the tank to fend off the other runners. I guess I’m getting the hang of racing again. i still do it for the pure joy of running, but it is fun to up with the top people at races. The competition pushes me to places i could not do on my own. It’s fun to test your body and see what is possible.
You have really proven you belong in the top group of U.S ultra runners over the past couple of years and have started 2012 off with the big win. What are your goals moving forward in the season?
My goal is to inspire as many people as i can to get out in nature and explore. We are blessed to have the opportunity to go play in this beautiful creation. I want others to see the joy it can bring and try it more for themselves. Running can be a really healthy lifestyle for your mind and body.
For the 2012 season, I plan on running many big races. 2 I’m really looking forward too are the Ice Age trail back home in Wisconsin in May and Western States 100 in June. I really like the 100 mile distance and hope I can have some success in pushing my self in the 3 100′s I have planed for this year. I don’t have a goal, but I do hope to keep improving and testing my self through out this season.
Olson cruising at mile 42 on his way to his first National Championship title. Olson runs for Pearl Izumi ultra running team.