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Ryan Loehding Surprised at Mile 95 – Interview with 2011 Pumpkin Holler 100 Winner

“I ran the rest of the race thinking he was right behind me. It was dark, and we were both running without lights so I just assumed he was just a few short steps behind me.” – Ryan Loehding

Texan Ryan Loehding, always brings a consistent effort whenever he races. Three weeks after co-winning the 8 Hour Run from the Ducks event, Ryan went on to win the inaugural Pumpkin Holler 100 (results summary) in 19:20:52. This was not without a bit of excitement five miles from the finish.

Ryan finds that chair next to the fire after winning the Pumpkin Holler 100!

I hope you enjoy this interview with Mr. Diesel as he shares his training approach, the scare at Pumpkin Holler, and his next running adventures.


Running Background / Training

[EB – What is your running background? When did you start ultra running and what led you to explore the sport?]

I started running just to keep my fitness in line back in 1997. I was a young new dad at the time. I saw other dads and thought I would look just like them if I did not do something. I did not want the negative connotation of being a runner. I instead called myself a “fitness enthusiast”.

I was a runner in denial until 1999. Then, I ran the Houston Marathon. Once you run a marathon, you are a runner. I ran a few more marathons and got into trails and ultrarunning in 2000 at the Hog’s Hunt. At that time, it was 28.7 miles. I had a lot of fun and met some great people.

From there, I did the natural progression to my first 100 in 2003.

[EB – Do you have any specific running mentors that have influenced you along your ultra journey so far?]

Andy Stewart taught me a lot about speed work when I lived in Sugarland. I would meet Andy and a few guys who could push me on the track every Tuesday night.

Over the years, I have gotten great pieces of advice from Texas runners like Tim Necker, Joe Prusaitis, Scott Eppleman, Mark Henderson, and Amanda McIntosh. There are so many others who have influenced my running.

Food and fluids. Getting ready to head out for loop two of PH100.

[EB – Sub 19 5ker. 2:50 marathoner. One fast 100 miler. What does a typical training week look like for you? How much training do you do on the trails? How has your training approach changed over the last 10 years? Do you do any type of cross training?]

I have a commute that is nine miles each way. I will typically run it on Tuesday and bike it Thursday and Friday. I add a few more running miles each day to get to about 50-70 miles/week depending on where I am in my training schedule.

I run 5 and 10k club runs with Plano Pacers and Dallas Running Club to stay sharp as often as I can – which is not very often.

Years ago, I had much more structured training, and my kids were not nearly as busy as they are today. I would follow a marathon training schedule and do exactly what it would say to do. Now, I just sort of run hard when I feel like running hard and easy when I don’t. If I have more time, I run farther.

I also do a lot of training now with my dog. He runs very well when it the weather is cool, but he is slow when it is hot outside.

8 Hour Ducky Run

[EB – Three weeks out from Pumpkin Holler, you ran 52.92 miles at the local 8 Hour Run from the Ducks Ultramarathon and co-won the race. How did the eight hour day progress for you? You mentioned this event was a fitness test for Pumpkin Holler, what did your effort tell you about your fitness heading into the 100 miler?]

I was actually a little concerned because I faded so much in the last hour of that race. Of course, that day was really hot so I just blamed it on the heat and hoped for the best at the Pumpkin Holler. If I was not ready at that point, it would have been too late to make any real changes anyway.

Pumpkin Holler 100

[EB – Coming off of a big 52.92 mile run so close to Pumpkin Holler, it seems like it could be a challenge to recover and feel fresh coming into the 100 mile adventure. What did your recover and taper in the final three weeks before Pumpkin Holler look like? How was the body and mind feeling race morning?]

Another week would have been nice, but my legs came back very well after that. The 100 mile race requires a different mindset than an eight hour timed race. So, I was able to get my head wrapped around the Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd.

[EB – You ran the first short out-and-back segment (totaling 7 miles) and one full 50 km loop at ~9 min/mile pace. Now that you had ran the entire course, did you get a chance to look around? What did you think of the course?]

I liked the course. It had a few more hills than I expected, but that is not a bad thing. I noticed the gravel road was very well maintained. The road appeared to have been recently graded making most of the gravel loose.

There are some really nice parts of Oklahoma. This is one of the best I have seen.

[ EB – From the cool morning temps that transitioned to a toasty afternoon followed by cool evening and nighttime hours. Did your nutritional/hydration approach change with the temperature and/or time of day?]

I did get dehydrated in the afternoon heat. I guess I just did not take enough fluids. I did not get my hydration back to normal until it cooled at night. So, I just kept drinking water and gatorade which made me feel bloated. When the sun began to set, I felt tired but no longer dehydrated. After that, I just kept sipping my water bottle.

[EB – With one 50km lap to go, you left the aid station with a 51+ minute lead from the next chasers (Danny Ponder and Claude Hicks Jr.). Running without a pacer, did you have any specific strategy the last 50km?]

I figured I would just go easy through the last 50 km and go home. I really did not know how far back anybody was, but I did not think anybody was close.

Lookin' for a pair of new legs with one loop to go! They got to be in here. 🙂

[EB – Then with ~5 miles to the finish something happened. You heard footsteps, either real or imagined. Could you tell us about it?]

Claude Hicks caught me. A lot went through my mind at that point. Normally, if somebody catches you that late in a race, they just blow by you, and you never see them again. I almost conceded, but I decided make him earn it.

Claude had been running hard to catch me. I was just poking along. I had been taking good care of myself, eating well at the aid stations, and moving slowly and steadily along. I guess I had another kick left in me.

I ran the rest of the race thinking he was right behind me. It was dark, and we were both running without lights so I just assumed he was just a few short steps behind me.

Between seeing Claude and smelling the barn, I found the spark to run the last four miles at about a 10 min/mile clip. I actually thought I could get through the last four miles in 30 minutes. My math, logic, and estimation of speed were all a bit off, but I really thought I could at the time. I kept checking my watch to see if I was near the finish.

When I finally reached the finish, I turned around expecting to see Claude. He came along a few minutes later.

[EB – Now that you have ran the Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd, were there any specific lessons learned from this 100 mile adventure that you would bring with you next time or recommend to others for this course?]

I learned that I need to train harder if I am going to keep running these. There is really no substitute for hard work and preparation, but a stubborn streak can get you to the finish.

Looking Ahead

[EB – Do you have any running events planned for the rest of the year or early 2012? Any other adventures on your radar you would like to experience but haven’t yet?]

I am running the Dallas Whiterock marathon again in December. I will probably run the Rocky Raccoon 100 again in February. Beyond that, I have nothing planned.

Good stuff!

A huge thanks to Ryan for sharing with the Endurance Buzz community!

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

2 Responses to “Ryan Loehding Surprised at Mile 95 – Interview with 2011 Pumpkin Holler 100 Winner”

  1. on 21 Nov 2011 at 6:59 pm Ken Childress

    A nice interview. I like his strategy. Run easy, and when someone catches you, turn on the jets. I also like the accurate critique of the course.

  2. on 23 Nov 2011 at 11:14 am David Hanenburg

    Ken – Thanks for sharing Mr. Zombie. I need to ask Ryan where he got his jets…I need some. 🙂