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Zach Miller (ENG) – I haven’t had the race at UTMB that I’ve been looking for.

Zach Miller, is one of the sensations of ultra trail. The North Face athlete lives and works in Barr Camp, in the Rockies, at 3000 meters high. After a first half of 2017 complicated by injuries, he begins 2018 at the top of motivation with major goals. Our colleagues Neisa Condemaita and Andrew Arbuckle interviewed him.


Banner photo: Nathan Sports

By Neisa Condemaita & Andrew Arbuckle

Zach Miller races from the heart. We’ve watched him scorch an entire route and all of those who chase after; he has also burned up just as he started to seem unstoppable. His return from a back injury shows promise for a strong 2018.

Listen to the conversation (ENG) and/or read the transcript that follows:


Andrew:  We have Zach Miller with us today. Zach, it’s winter in Colorado, you live halfway up Pike’s Peak; what do you do to stay on goal for the coming year?

Zach: Yes, just trying to be consistent on training and make sure you get out everyday. You’ve got to dress for the weather. I think it was about eight or ten degrees this morning so you’ve gotta dress warm and get out there and and then once you’re moving usually you’re pretty good. The winter is usually a big strength time so you don’t worry so much about pace and stuff you just kinda get in the time. Do a lot of speed climbing and things like that, but the trails are kind of icy and snowy sometimes so you don’t worry too much about the pace.

Neisa: Right.

Pic: Billy Yang

Andrew: Your racing style is pretty intense, it’s pretty much an all or nothing deal for you.

Zach: Yeah, it tends to be that way. That’s the way I like to run. I think it’s fun and it’s kind of high risk, but it’s how I like to do it.

Andrew: Keeps it exciting though.

Zach: Yeah, I guess so.

Andrew: And you coach yourself too.

Zach: Yeah, I’m self coached. I was coached for quite a few years of high school and college; after that I took the bits and pieces that I had learned over the years and found what worked for me in terms of applying them to mountain running. It worked well and I like that it gives me a lot of flexibility – be in full control and for me that’s good.

Andrew: You are experienced enough to make the decisions yourself which is great. And between chopping wood as training and running with a Casio watch your style is pretty minimalist and dedicated – how has that developed?

Zach: Yeah keeping it simple. Running with the Casio, not looking at a lot of data; I think that just kind of came out of my experiences running in high school and college. It’s really easy to very quickly be all about the numbers and the data and I can have an obsessive personality so it’s easy to really get caught up in that – kind of go overboard and to the point where you’re chasing the numbers more than the success. Then the numbers are success, but sometimes they don’t lead to success because you’re maybe going too hard or something like that. So I’m getting away from that and being a bit more relaxed with it. I’m still very diligent about what I do, but not in terms of paces or sitting at home analyzing my workouts – it’s much more relaxed. It takes a lot of stress off I think. It helps keep it fun and keeps me in a good rhythm.

Andrew: I’m sure it keeps you in tune with your body…

Zach: I think it can, because you may be looking a little more for the response from your body and how it’s feeling than what the watch says. The watch might say that you ran a PR on your training run but “Were you going all out to get that? Or were you controlled?” When you’re paying attention to the feelings you can dial it in a little better.

Neisa: Let’s talk about UTMB Zach. You won CCC in 2015. In 2016 at UTMB while we were there you got 6th place and last year you were 9th. You keep going back. What is your goal?

Zach: Yeah, I mean for one, I enjoy the race and the atmosphere.  I went the first year, won CCC and that was great; now let’s move on and tackle the next thing which is UTMB. I had strong races each year but I’m yet to feel like I really nailed it. I’m plan to go back this year and hope to improve upon my previous years. I want to come away one year and feel like I really, really nailed it. It’s hard to do in a hundred mile race because they’re so much that can happen but I want to keep trying and see if I can get it.

Andrew: Enough times and you’ll find the right mix of chemistry.

Zach: Hopefully.

Andrew: In UTMB this year how would the race go in your mind; in your imagination?

Zach: Hard. The race gets setup with preparation, so far training this year is off to a good start. Last year I struggled with some injuries, but this year I’m feeling like it’s off to a good, strong start so hopefully I’ll get a really, solid build up to it. On race day it’s gonna be long, it’s gonna hurt and you know it’s probably going to be fast, there’s a good field in there this year. It’s hard to say how it will all play out, but I would hope to get through the first half of the race feeling relatively comfortable and then be able to push really hard from Courmeyeur on; especially from Champex-Lac on. That’s tough, because I think you’re hurting no matter what, but I would love to feel strong the whole way through and not have too many low points and go solid all day long. But we’ll see.

Neisa: I think you’re gonna do great, you’re gonna nail it Zach!

Zach: Let’s hope so. A great experience – it’s tough sometimes if you don’t nail it you can be a little disappointed but no matter what I hope that I can be happy with whatever happens.

Neisa: It’s pretty amazing you get in the top ten.

Zach: Yeah Top 10 is always good there. It’s a competitive race, you can’t be too disappointed with that.

Andrew: True, and the atmosphere, the energy – it’s a good place to be.

Zach: Yeah, yeah for sure definitely is.

Andrew: Well Zach, thanks for sharing with us. Hope the preparation goes well.

Zach: Sounds good

Neisa:  Thank you Zach.

Zach: You’re welcome.

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