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Mike Benge Tuesday, 02 July 2013 14:39 TWEET COMMENTS 507

Some Like It Hot - Page 3

Q: You've done a lot of running in the Grand Canyon. What is the allure?

Easy access helps! We’re a 90-minute drive from the trailhead. The Canyon has an allure and power that's hard to describe. I've had some of my greatest and most fond running efforts in the Canyon, but also some of my most devastating and desperate times as well.

Q: Highlights of your R2R2R FKT?

One of the highlights was the 28 miles north of Phantom Ranch. The road to the north rim hadn't yet opened, and the trail was eerily void of others, adding to the sense of vulnerability and loneliness. It also allowed me to fall into a deeply focused mindset and run very strong and comfortably during those miles.

Q: What other running accomplishments are you proud of?

The 2012 Moab Red Hot 33k was the stepping stone for my transition to trails and my return to racing. It was my first race in two-and-a-half years and followed a long recovery from surgery when I'd given up the hope of ever running easily with friends, let alone racing competitively again. Running strong and winning that race was unexpected. I wasn't even running at the time, and my training was solely skinning and skiing the mountain here in Flagstaff. But it opened my eyes to the possibilities.

Q: What is your athletic/running/racing background?

I participated in cross country, track, water polo and badminton in high school, and triathlons in the summers, and went to Triathlon World Champs in 1994 and 1995.

Q: How did you get into trail running?

After hitting the roads in 2007 and 2008, my body had had enough and led to injuries and eventually my foot surgery. Trails are much kinder to my body and after the long recovery from surgery and my run in Moab, the trails seemed to beckon me. I appreciate the more laid-back nature of both trail races and those who participate in them, such a friendlier and less stressful niche of running.

Q: How did you evolve into running ultras last year?

Unexpectedly! I had some friends traveling to the Bootlegger 25K/50K in November and decided to join initially for the 25K and at the last moment hopped in the 50K to see what would happen. I really enjoyed the experience [he came in second behind Jason Wolfe]. From there it really snowballed and after another really strong winter of skinning and skiing and a strong race at the Leone Divide 50-miler [a win], I decided to take the plunge and commit to Western States.

Q: What is your training like?

I’m putting in 60-to-100-mile, six-day training weeks. Slower, easier efforts mostly, and no workouts thus far this year. Lots of the little things count—circuits twice a week, stretching, foam rolling, icing, eating healthy, respecting sleep as much as I can with my overnight work schedule, listening to both mind and body and taking an extra day off when needed.



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