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2012 Western States 100: Interview With Our New Mexico Tread

New Mexico has one runner, Brian Pilgrim, ready to play at Western States 100 this weekend! Brian is also one of our three TALON runners going after the slam this year.

New Mexico State Flag - Red symbol is called Zia

Enjoy the following Q&A with our Land of Enchantment runner.

Brian Pilgrim #318

Photo: Brian Pilgrim

[EB – What is your running background and how long have you been playing in the world of trail/ultra running?]

I’ve played sports since I was four years old but I only started running seven years ago. I ran my first ultra six years ago and it was a road ultra. I started running trails five years ago and have been hooked ever since. In total, since I started running, I’ve done 59 marathon or longer distance runs. Seven of those were part on Ironman triathlons and seven of them have been 100 milers. Western States will be number 60.

[EB – You are one of three TALON athletes going after the slam this year, how did you decide to go after this challenging quest?]

The simple answer for this year is that I was selected for Western States so I pulled the trigger on the larger dream. The deeper answer is that I’m still responding to my high school football coach, Joe Bob Tyler from Wichita Falls, Texas who was a Nazi POW camp survivor. He taught us far more than football. He taught us something that can pretty much be summed up by the following West Point cadet maxim “Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.”

[EB – What did a typical training week look like during your peak training for Western States? (weekly mileage, longest run, any back-to-back long runs?, weights/core, etc)]

My peak week was 75 miles, less than I was hoping for but I’ve gotten in several 60 to 65 mile weeks this season so I’m pretty happy. My longest run has been the Jemez Mountain 50km. I have a strong preference to race rather than do training runs longer than maybe 22 miles. Since mid-March when I ran Bataan I’ve run five marathons and one 50km. I ran all of them pretty much at the top of my ability and each race was either preceded or followed by an easy 10 mile run. I’m not sure if it’s necessarily better training than a lot of long, slow runs but I feel like if I’m running hard and/or fast marathons and 50kms leading up to a 100, then I’ll be in pretty good shape. I also choose my races as much as possible to fit my upcoming 100. As far as cross training goes I spent some of the early season on the Stairmaster, some swimming, and some elliptical trainer work. I also did a lot of yoga. For probably the past three months though it’s just been running and yoga.

[EB – Being your first Western States, what specific section of the course are you most looking forward to running or experiencing? (besides the finish)]

I ran No Hands Bridge as part of the Rio del Lago 100 a couple summers ago but I’m looking forward to running it as part of Western States. I’m sort of infatuated with the whole race. It’s like hallowed ground and I’m just grateful to be on it. Having said that, I am looking forward to what are probably the usual suspects, Emigrant Pass, Devils Thumb and the river crossing at the Rucky Chucky aid station. I’m really hoping that the water is low enough that we can cross it on foot using the rope. It just seems like the right way to cross.

[EB – Fun bonus question: Which animal best characterizes that way you plan on running Western States?]

Photo: Courtesy Tatterdemalion! @

The badger. I loved this from the Wasatch Front awards. “A creature of the earth, the badger is a tenacious, undefeatable, committed adventurer.” I was a badger last year at Wasatch. Sometimes I wish I could say cheetah or gazelle but the fact of the matter is I’m usually slugging it out somewhere mid to back of the pack and I’m cool with that.

We wish Brian safe travels and all the best as he begins his slam journey!

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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.

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