Welcome! The intent of Anecdotes from the Trail is to share my experiences while trail running or racing (occasionally on the road too.) And to feature other trail runners and their accomplishments. You may see the occasional gear review or even contest. Please visit from time to time. Happy trails!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Trail runner Spotlight: David Riddle

David Riddle crosses the finish at the 2013 Mt. Mist 50K setting a new course record with a 3:36! Photo: Eric Charette

I first heard of David Riddle when he won the Stump Jump 50K in 2011. I ran that race too, and when I arrived at the finish line and learned that someone had not only set a course record, but had also gone sub-four for the first time in the race's then ten year history, I was blown away. Soon after that, it seemed that I would read about David every where. As you'll read below, he had quite a year in 2012. Then a couple of weeks ago, I would once again run a race that David would win and also set a course record with a 3:46! This year's, Mountain Mist 50K in Huntsville, AL.

I had a chance to ask David a few questions and you can read his responses below. I'm grateful to David for taking the time for this Q&A. He's an amazing runner, and a humble one at that despite his accomplishments. You'll be hearing a lot more from this guy in the future.

Hi Dave, How did you get into the world of ultras and trail running and what motivated you to do so?

I started running competitively many years ago on my 7th grade track team.  I continued racing on the track, roads, and cross-country courses, gradually improving as I progressed through high school, college (at Auburn), grad school, and then post-collegiately.  After college, I tried for a few years to qualify for the US Olympic Marathon Trials, but they lowered the standard from 2:22 to 2:19 around that same time.  Although I was able to win the 2009 Rocket City Marathon, my 2:26 finishing time and PR left me far from the trials standard.  I grew up just outside of Huntsville, and had moved back after college to begin my career as an aerospace engineer.  The passionate ultra runners living in the area (think Dink Taylor, Dewayne Satterfield, Rob Youngren, etc.) started rubbing off on me, and it wasn't long before I was running on the trails.  I jumped into a Fat Ass 50k as a long run one day with that attitude that I could drop out whenever I felt like it.  I never dropped and broke the course record.  I guess my personality just meshes really well with the running lifestyle.  Trails and ultras were just another way to continue enjoying the sport and improving myself.

You just came off a course record setting win at the Mountain Mist 50K. How do you feel about this win and given this year's muddy conditions, do you see yourself coming back to Monte Sano for yet another record attempt on hopefully a drier course?

I feel really great after the win at Mtn Mist this year.  I think that was my best race in almost a year.  It's a huge confidence boost and shows that I have a great combination of strength and speed right now.  I don't think the muddy conditions affected me too much. The trail was actually drier than I was expecting.  It could have been a very different experience for those father back in the pack as the trail tends to get chewed up quickly, but it was in pretty good shape for me.  I plan to continue coming back to Mtn Mist simply because it's basically my hometown 50k, but breaking my new course record is going to be really tough.  I'd also like to get a 10 year finisher jacket, so you'll see me running in the Mist again.

Riddle and Henshaw lead the pack at the
'12 IAU 100K World Championships.
Photo: Darryl Schaffer
You raised a lot of eyebrows in 2011 when you won and broke the 17-year old course record at the JFK 50 and then earned the top American spot at the 2012 IAU 100k World Championship. Describe both of those experiences.

Breaking the course record at JFK was a surreal experience.  I really hadn't even dreamed that I could run that fast.  It was just a very special day where all the ingredients came together perfectly and I ran an amazing race.  Having the chance to run down Michael Wardian in the last few miles of the race allowed me to push my body to a place where I couldn't have gone without some external motivation.  That race gave me a new level of confidence that I could compete against some of the best ultra runners in the country, and it also taught me to stop placing limitations on my abilities.

The 2012 IAU 100k World Championship race in Italy was another great race for me.  I knew I was in excellent shape going in, but I wasn't completely sure how fast I'd be able to run.  I started the race uncharacteristically fast and really got caught up in the international competition early.  I didn't back down though, and just tried to hang on as long as possible.  It started to unravel for me with 20k to go, but I was able to hold it together enough for a 5th place finish and top American spot.  The 100k hurt a lot more than JFK, but I was really proud of how I handled the pressure and toughed out a strong finish.

In your first 100 miler attempt at last year's Western States, you came in 11th with a sub-17 hour finish. Do you have plans for another 100 miler any time soon? If so, what will you do differently, if anything, to improve upon your Western States finish?

Riddle at '12 Western States.
Photo: Dusty Davis
I don't currently have any plans to run a 100 miler this year.  I was really pleased with how my first 100 miler turned out at Western States, but my biggest limitation is my lack of trails and terrain to train on for a big mountain 100 miler like that.  I gave it a go last year, running some longer, more mountainous stuff, but it's clearly not my strength.  I plan to get back to my specialty and run more moderate 50 milers and 100k's this year.  I think one day in the future I will run a hundred again.  I think I can make huge performance improvements at that distance by adjusting my training and dialing in my nutrition.  I've already mentioned lack of elevation change in my current training, but also I don't do many super-long, slow runs that would help my 100 mile ability.  And having your nutrition right is so much more critical in a 100 mile race than it is in a 50 mile or 100k.  If I can really get my fueling figured out, I think I could run a great 100.

What's in store for you and racing in 2013?

My racing schedule for 2013 is a mess right now.  I am traveling a bunch over the next few months both for personal trips and work, and just haven't been able to schedule any races in the near term.  I've been wanting to do the Chattanooga Stage Races for a while, so I am hoping to do that one and then I'm on the US 100k team again.  That race was supposed to be in South Korea in October, but South Korea had to back out just a few weeks ago.  The race is supposedly still on, but they are looking for a new venue to hold the race around the same time frame.  That's a tough question to answer, because I really just don't know. 

What would you recommend to someone doing their first 50K?

It's hard to make general recommendations for a first 50k, as my advice could vary significantly from person to person depending on their experience and ability level.  But, typically I'd like to see someone who has a couple road marathons under their belt.  Then, assuming the 50k is a trail race, I'd highly recommend this person get some decent mileage on trails similar to the race course.  I think many road runners underestimate how different the trails can be, and allowing the body to learn how to be dynamic on the trails is very important.  I don't think a first time 50k-er needs to boost their mileage a lot over what they'd run for a road marathon.  And if this person is spending a good bit of time on the trails, then their weekly mileage might actually come down.  Total training time becomes more important than straight mileage when preparing for a trail 50k.  Finally, I would caution a first timer to go out very conservatively in their race.  A tough trail 50k like Mtn Mist can easily take 1.5+ times as long to finish as a road marathon even though its just a few miles longer.  For this reason, you can't afford to bonk, so the beginner needs to go out easy and eat steadily throughout the race.

Thanks Dave. Good luck this year!


You can follow David on Twitter at @rundavid1 and check out his blog at http://riddleruns.blogspot.com/.

No comments:

Post a Comment