This weekend, TMS Ambassador Mike Tebbutt will compete in the Western States 100. With over 18,000 feet of vertical climbing and 23,000 feet of descent, the 100-mile race from Squaw Valley to Auburn, CA, is one of the top endurance tests worldwide. We wish Mike the utmost power, grace and perseverance this weekend. We’ll be rooting for ya, bud!
Tahoe Mountain Sports was fortunate enough to tie Mike down for a moment during his little downtime preceding this weekend. Literally. With his shoelaces, nonetheless. Mike, you’re really going to have to strengthen up more by Saturday!
Alright, Mr. Tebbutt, we’re really excited to have you on as a TMS Ambassador and representing TMS at the Western States 100. We have some questions regarding how you’ve prepared and your expectations for this weekend’s gnarly endurance race.
Mike: I have not run Western States, but in 2008 I ran the Bear 100 in Utah that travels across the Wasatch Mountains from Logan, Utah and ends in the Bear Mountains at Bear Lake, Idaho. Interesting side note: I was introduced to the WS folks in 2008 when the race was cancelled due to fires. My catering company, Twin Peaks Catering, received a phone call to cater a cancellation BBQ for them. We ended up serving 375 people with only about 24 hours to prepare for it. They were very gracious and gave me a WS Mountain Hardwear jacket and coffee mug and told me that I would make a good 100-mile runner. I had always known about the WS and wondered if I could actually run that distance myself. When they handed me those gifts of appreciation, I knew right then and there that I would one day run the race. I have since sold the the catering business and I feel that chapter of my life is coming around full circle, finally being able to run this race after three years of entering my name in the lottery and six years of building my running endurance.
TMS: What are your expectations of the course this year? Of yourself this Saturday?
Mike: It is going to be tough, and hot, though not nearly as hot as last year. There is also a lot more exposure due to a large section of the Canyons (hardest part of the course during the hottest part of the day) that burned in the American Fire last summer. We do, however, get an extra river crossing to cool us down this year since the historic Swinging Bridge burned down. I expect to run a smart and steady race, focusing on not running too hard during the first 62 miles so I can save my legs for some good running miles once I pick up my pacer, Frank Aldana, in Foresthill. My “A” goal is to finish in around 20 hours and if I don’t make this, I hope to at least finish in under 24 hours. The bottom line is that I plan to go out and have a fun time soaking in this iconic race!
TMS: Briefly outline your training schedule.
Mike: Since my work and life schedule vary greatly, so does my training schedule. I mostly train by feel and enjoy lots of steep power hiking and off-trail exploration on my backyard trails here in Kings Beach, in addition to plenty of running miles. My weekly mileage tends to be between 50 and 75, which is much less than a lot of ultra runners, but this works well for me. I have done more formal training and speed workouts this year than all of my running years combined, as some friends and I started a running club this past winter called the Donner Party Mountain Runners. Our Thursday Morning Speed Sessions have definitely brought my fitness to a new level that I wished I had during my first 100-mile race. My final five weeks of training before I tapered was my strongest training block ever and started with the Meow Marathons on May 3. This was a 55-ish mile-race with about 17-18K feet of vertical gain and lots of off-trail navigation through an unmarked course.
TMS: What have been your largest hurdles in preparing for the WS100?
TMS: Any new gear or apparel you’re stoked to compete with?
TMS: Besides removing your shoes, do you think you’ll have specific cravings during the last ten miles?
Mike: During the Bear 100, I really enjoyed chicken noodle soup and ginger ale once it got dark and things cooled down, so I expect that will probably be the same for Western States. And the cold beer that will be awaiting me at the finish!!!
Just a few more quickies unrelated to WS100 but relevant to Lake Tahoe, TMS and your general adventurous spirit…
TMS: All our TMS Ambassadors have a strong passion for the outdoors. What is your most epic outdoor adventure to-date?
Mike: Too many to choose from, but here are three of my favorites:
1) Backpacking the John Muir Trail in 2010 with my awesome wife, Liz.
2) First ascent of 6200′ Mt Heddy in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska, with Dan Oberlatz and Derek Nelson. 6,000′ total vertical ascent with 1,000′ of technical ice plus a lot of snow hiking. This trip, back in 1998, included many other first ascent ice climbs, ski descents and great times with even better friends.
3) 60+ hours of non-stop ski circumnavigation around Lake Tahoe’s high country with Sam Skrocke in 2006. It took three attempts over three years to make it a reality. As far as we know, nobody else has skied around the Lake in this fashion.
TMS: TMS expects our Ambassadors to promote positive influences on outdoor spaces and our community. What local organizations are you involved with?
Why did you become an Ambassador for Tahoe Mountain Sports?
To promote our local sports shop and their quality brands. I would like to give back a little from my nearly three decades of playing hard in the mountains and share with others what a tremendous outdoor asset we have in Lake Tahoe!!
To follow Mike and other athletes throughout the day, visit http://www.ultralive.net/ws100/webcast.php. Each runner’s course status is updated often, shortly after they pass checkpoints. The race begins at 5 a.m. and Mike Tebbutt is Bib #362.
Want a preview of the WS100 race? This 11-minute video just about sums it up. Well, maybe not all the emotions involved, but much of the course, at least.
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