With an affinity for working up mountains, one Mammoth native is crushing a number of the hardest path races on this planet. What’s he gunning for? Changing into the primary American man to win the Extremely Path du Mont Blanc—and loads of sweets on the end line.
Tim Tollefson, 32, was injured and undertrained going into the Transgrancanaria Extremely Marathon final spring. “I anticipated a loss of life march, but it surely became extra of a loss of life march than I ever might have ever imagined,” he stated.
The 125Ok race climbs greater than 26,000 toes in Spain’s Canary Islands. Tollefson was solely working it to realize the ultimate qualifying factors he wanted for the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) later that summer season, however on the 50Ok level, he realized that ending in any respect was going to be troublesome. “There have been occasions after I was coming down a treacherous part of the path and a satan on my shoulder was telling me to throw myself off the cliff as a result of then it could all be over,” Tollefson stated.
Each step was excruciating.
“Throughout the race, I’d utterly sworn off ultras. The one motive I used to be doing the race was to get the factors for UTMB. I assumed, it is a silly sport. Why am I ending if I’m simply getting factors for one thing I’ll by no means do?”
“Sufficient time goes by that you simply overlook how terrible it was, what number of occasions you swore off working, and latch on to the constructive stuff and the arduous components begin to disappear.”
He completed the race regardless of the satan on his shoulder and 6 months later, Tollefson completed third in his 100-mile debut at UTMB, which is taken into account one of the crucial aggressive and difficult extremely path races on this planet.
“It was magical,” he stated.
Does he nonetheless suppose it’s a silly sport? “No—it’s a bit irrational and loopy, however not silly,” Tollefson stated. “Any time you’ll be able to observe getting by way of the powerful psychological parts of a race you come out just a little stronger. Sufficient time goes by that you simply overlook how terrible it was, what number of occasions you swore off working, and latch on to the constructive stuff and the arduous components begin to disappear.”
His podium end on the Extremely-Path World Tour occasion cemented his standing, not solely as a high American but additionally as a foremost contender on the worldwide stage. In Could he gained his first worldwide occasion, the 2017 Extremely Path Australia 100Ok, and later this summer season he’ll return to Chamonix to attempt to grow to be the primary American man to win UTMB.
Tollefson’s breakthrough race on the 2016 UTMB got here on the heels of a race the place he virtually swore off ultrarunning, but it surely was not the primary time he turned a darkish second into appreciable success.
In 2013, when Tollefson crossed the end line of the California Worldwide Marathon (CIM) in 2 hours, 18 minutes, and 29 seconds, he practically walked away from the game. It was his second-fastest marathon ever, however the time was simply outdoors of the U.S. Olympic Trials marathon customary. He tried repeatedly and stored arising wanting the usual. It was then that he determined to make the swap to path racing. (He ultimately certified for the Olympic Trials retroactively when the IAAF modified the Olympic requirements and competed for the second time on the trials in 2016.)
“He was on the lookout for one thing new to rekindle his competitiveness and his love for working,” his coach Mario Fraioli stated. “He loves the paths, he loves being out in nature by himself. He thrives on that solitude and he likes a very good problem.”
In Tollefson’s first race longer than the marathon distance—and first race on filth—he gained the 2014 Path Nationwide Championship on the Flagline 50Ok in Bend, Oregon, setting the course report and catching the attention of sponsors alongside the way in which. (He signed with Nike Path Workforce, however has since switched and is presently sponsored by Hoka One One.)
“When he first began [racing trail ultras] I assumed it was a small pool of individuals and that’s most likely why he was doing properly,” says Tim’s spouse Lindsay Tollefson, “however personally, I’ve performed so poorly on the paths I noticed there’s a particular method and expertise that it takes. Tim loves it.”
Outdoors On-line additionally doubted highway runners switching to the paths and published a story citing a supply that stated Tollefson and others “have been unable to ascertain themselves in additional aggressive ultras” as a result of the “longer, extra excessive occasions finally require a separate ability set, each by way of bodily health and fortitude.”
Simply days after the article was printed, Tollefson completed second in his first 100Ok race on the 2015 Courmayeur – Champex – Chamonix (CCC), the little sister race of UTMB. “I believe he preferred [the Outdoors article],” Fraioli stated. “He didn’t let it get to him, and it was enjoyable proving it mistaken.”
On arduous days, he typically runs up and down the 11,054-foot summit as many as three or 4 occasions.
What makes Tollefson profitable on the paths is the truth that he loves the coaching, and he’s devoted to it. “He likes working to the highest of Mammoth Mountain—that’s enjoyable for him,” Lindsay says. “Even on straightforward days, he likes to run up there.”
On arduous days, he typically runs up and down the 11,054-foot summit as many as three or 4 occasions, sustaining a threshold effort on the descent and working simply downhill again residence on the paved bike path. Or he’ll do a pair laps across the Mammoth Crest, or a through-run from Yosemite National Park again residence.
Since making the swap to full-time extremely path working, Tollefson’s coaching has switched from repetitive highway runs to what his coach likes to name: Select your individual journey. “I give him the rules to imitate the precise wants of the occasion we’re getting ready for however give him the liberty to piece collectively the paths,” Fraioli stated. “Being in Mammoth, it was straightforward sufficient for him to do due to the elevation and the mountains that he’s surrounded by.”
The downhill jog Tollefson ran for his settle down after Mammoth Mountain hill-repeats was by no coincidence. The ultimate miles of UTMB have been downhill on pavement. Tollefson knew his legs could be thrashed at that time within the race and was ready for the beating. It served him properly as he handed a couple of opponents within the closing stage of the race to position third. “Tim picks the extra mountainous path races after which he trains for them,” says his former Nike Path teammate David Laney. “Earlier than UTMB, he did a 35-mile run with 10,000 toes of climbing. I don’t suppose anyone does that—it’s a ton… And he has the perfect hair in ultrarunning. After UTMB it was good. I used to be like, ‘What did you do on the market?’”
Apart from sustaining envy-worthy ultra-hair, what Tollefson did on the market within the 106-mile race that circumnavigates Mount Blanc and climbs 32,000 toes, was run patiently and end robust. “For UTMB, the principle draw was to utterly circumnavigate Mont Blanc—that was calling me,” Tollefson stated. “I actually wished to get on the market and discover that path.”
This 12 months he opened his season with a fifth-place end on the Hong Kong 100Ok Extremely Path Race, which wasn’t a very good or unhealthy efficiency in his opinion. It was the snowiest winter on report in Mammoth Lakes and his coaching was a mixture of any highway that he might discover cleared of snow, the treadmill, or driving down the hill to Bishop as soon as in awhile when he had the luxurious of time. (He works a full-time job as a bodily therapist at Mammoth Hospital’s SPORT Heart.) Many days, he discovered himself working uphill into the wind on the freeway that leads into city, passing individuals placing on chains and being handed by SUVs with skis and snowboards on the racks. “It wasn’t nice,” he stated. “I can’t prepare for an additional winter extremely.”
After Hong Kong, he devoted the remainder of the winter to having fun with the snow. He began backcountry snowboarding and raced ski-mountaineering for the primary time. He intends to dedicate this fall to a coaching block on the roads. Although he says he’s dedicated to path working, Tollefson plans to race the CIM this December, aiming for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier.
Other than merely loving path working and exploring the mountains, Tollefson has a particular appreciation for the quantity of sugar he can devour after a long term. Like most ultrarunners, he likes to speak about meals.
“I marvel if I might get a donut sponsorship?”
“I undoubtedly go to sweets after a run,” he says. “As quickly as I can get my arms on a donut or something sugary, that’s what I’ll gobble down.”
He loves maple buttermilk bars or any cake donut coated in icing and sprinkles. “Instantly after a race, I am going to beer as a result of races don’t provide donuts, but when I’m truly making a purchase order will probably be a donut,” says Tollefson. “I’m wondering if I might get a donut sponsorship? I ought to contact Dunkin Donuts.”
However whether or not working the CIM or UTMB, what’s even higher than post-race treats for Tollefson goes residence. “There are few locations that make me as joyful as being right here in Mammoth.”