Episode number 98

Jim Walmsley | Engagement, Moving to Europe, Western States, and UTMB

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Jim Walmsley is a three-time Western States 100 champion and one of the greatest ultrarunners of all time. He recently won the North American Ultra Runner of the Year award for the fifth straight year. In this conversation, we talk about some recent changes in Jim’s life, how he’s addressing his weaknesses as an athlete, his relationship with Francois D’Haene, his third victory at Western States, a DNF at UTMB, and what Jim has planned for 2022. This was a really fun conversation! 

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Dylan Bowman: What's up friends. How is it going? Welcome back to the free trail podcast. Always appreciate you all for being here. Of course, I am Dylan Bowman, and we are back with a special one this time with the trail and ultra icon, the pride of Arizona, the three time champion and course record holder of the Western states 100. And now the five time ultra runner of the year award recipient. That's right. Mr. Jim Walmsley returns for his second appearance on the show. And we happen to be catching Jim at a bit of a pivotal moment in his life, in his career. So it was a great time to sit down for this chat for one, Jim is now engaged to be married. He and his longtime partner, miss Jess, Brazo have a wedding plan for this coming may, which they announced on social media recently. And not long after that, the newly weds will be decamping the United States of America and moving abroad specifically to France for a fun little stint abroad, an amazing life adventure for the couple and an opportunity for Jim to enhance his focus on the ultra trail de Jamal Blanc, the UT M B a race that to this point, evaded him in his career.

Dylan Bowman: We talk all about these two big life commitments and how Jim and Jess are feeling about the changes before we dive into more running centric conversation, including Jim's friendship with the great Fran Swain, his third victory at the Western states, 100, his disappointing DNF at the UT M B his evolving approach to training and a lot more. I'm not gonna lie as a fan of sports. This was just a joy to record. It's so fun to sit down with one of the best our sport has ever seen and go deep on what makes him great and also what makes him human. Uh, and I really hope you guys enjoy the discussion as always a big thank you to our presenting sponsor, that being speed land the makers of the SL PX, my shoe of choice, and quite simply the highest quality trail footwear ever produced to learn more about speed land, please visit run speed, land.com. Use code free trail, 15 capital F free trail one five at run speed, land.com for 15% off your purchases. All right, let's get to it. Thanks so much to Jim for doing this. Thank you all for listening. We'll see you on the other side,

Dylan Bowman: Mr. Jim Walmsley. Welcome back to the podcast, buddy. How are you?

Jim Walmsley: Hey, good to be here. Um, glad to be back and, uh, I'm doing good. How are you?

Dylan Bowman: Excellent. It's finally sunny here in Portland, Oregon. Are you at home? Uh, Flagstaff.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah, I'm at home. Um, I actually, haven't been outside today. Uh, I was on the indoor bike mostly, but I see some blue skies, but it was firing, uh, earlier and we're getting a little bit of snow on the mountain,

Dylan Bowman: So always good. Always good. Well, awesome man. Well, we've got a lot to talk about. I know there's been a lot of fun developments in your life and, uh, some things that, uh, you know, are changing in real time. And so, you know, I'm sort of in the same boat, myself, everything changing and shifting beneath my feet. And it's both exciting and terrifying. And maybe you can relate to that, but want to talk all about that and start with your recent, uh, engagement? What an awesome, awesome bit of news for you on the personal front. Tell the story. Yeah. How you popped the question to your long time partner, Jess.

Jim Walmsley: Well, it's almost the stories of how it didn't happen essentially and eventually did happen. But, um, I mean, initially I was hoping to kind of start pick up like some uphill skiing. And I remember she picked it up last winter and I ended up like running up some of the mornings with her up, uh, I think diamond peak in incline village. And so we were out visiting her family kind of in the Tahoe area. Mm-hmm and, uh, it was just these epic days, beautiful view of lake Tahoe and stuff. And we had this trip planned. So I, I was like, oh man, this is like the spot I'm gonna do it there. Um, and it, and it was like the beginning of the winter apocalypse out in Tahoe. I mean, yeah, they just got feet and feet of snow. Um, we, we didn't, nothing was uphill open, so, um, that all kind of backfired a bit. And I, I carried around the ring for a couple runs thinking like it could be it. And like, there was even a run where she went to giving a hug beforehand and she's like, what's that? And I'm like, oh, we, we ran last night that I just accidentally left my headlight in my, my pocket.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. Like, um, but it ended up happening back here in Flagstaff. Uh, I think maybe my third time trying to Nordic ski and, um, it's a, a really pretty little area in flag up above 8,000 feet. So nice tree diversity. And I, I was still falling a lot in Nordic skiing at that point. So it's

Dylan Bowman: So hard. Nordic skiing is so hard.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. It's been a learning curve. Um, yeah. It's interesting.

Dylan Bowman: So did you, did you, you know, kick the skis off and get down on one knee? Did people have to know how this all went down? Well,

Jim Walmsley: Well, she knows I'm so I'm not the most comfortable person on snow. I mean, even running wise too. And she could see, I was like awkwardly dragging out the, the ski for a little longer. I'm like, oh no, you gotta come over here. And then she sees me like, I'm clipping from my binding. And like, I'm a bit of a clutch and she's just like, no, no, no, no, no, no, like just stay standing. I'm like, ah, man. And yeah, so I ended up getting kind of a non-traditional ring and uh, little Bisbee, uh, turquoise from really like south of Tucson is where the turquoise is from and a local guy in Jerome. Uh, so actually both of those towns were founded by the same mining town, but kind of built into these mountains, the really quirky little towns of Arizona. And, um, yeah, we just kind of had, uh, a special day, uh, outs skiing, and that's where it happened.

Dylan Bowman: How romantic bro, how fun eventually I should tell the whole story of how I proposed to, to harmony here on the podcast, cuz it's pretty hilarious. And, and it's similar in that we, I did it at the top of a mountain. It was actually cone peak down in big serve, but, and had it all sort of like planned out and had it in my pocket. And then we were, it was sort of a Bush wack ascent to the summit and harmony was not enthused about the, the approach that I took up to the top of cone peak. And so of course we started arguing on the way up and I contemplated bailing until, you know, we had reconciled, uh, that particular argument, but ultimately had a, a beautiful romantic, uh, yeah. Proposal at the top of a peak. And what a special time man. Are you, are you high on life? Are you guys feeling, uh, pretty excited about this next chapter?

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. We're in a really good, uh, kind of just phase of life right now, enjoying it, um, planning out like, uh, kind of the wedding and stuff. So, uh, we're actually planning on getting married out in Silverton, uh, kind of as a little bit of a goodbye to friends and family for a little while.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Well, let's talk all about that. Um, I don't think it's widely known yet, but as part of this really exciting next chapter of your lives, you guys are gonna be relocating from Flagstaff, which has been home for a long time. So tell the people what's next.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. So we're, we're not selling our place in flag. We're, we're gonna try to balance the two, um, as best as possible, but um, kind of a big pivot, uh, away from the us trail running scene. Uh, I'm not gonna be racing Western states this year and in may this year, we're, we're aiming for kind of just arbitrary date of May 15th. Uh, we're gonna be moving out to France, um, and gonna try to do about a year and a half. So I'd say two cycles of UT, M B kind of through, um, yes. And

Dylan Bowman: I love that. That's how you're thinking about it. Two cycles of UT M B is how long I'm gonna live in Europe.

Jim Walmsley: It it'll be a full training block three and a half months, uh, before UT M B this year. Um, and then, uh, basically been trying to learn how to ski essentially, uh, Nordic ski and skimo to survive the winters in France as well. Cuz uh, it's a really great way. As we all know, the Europeans kind of stay in the mountains, they stay at higher elevation, they get a ton of vert. Um, and they, they use a lot of their gear that probably, uh, a lot of Americans neglect to use, whether it's their jackets, their headlights, their packs, um, all of it's pretty applicable to big days in the mountains, whether it's over summer or in the winter. So I'm trying to pick up those sports a little bit and they've both had their frustrations. Um,

Dylan Bowman: Yeah, it's, it's so smart for you. I think. And one of the things that I like to say to people who are new to the sport or who maybe I want to sort of, uh, describe the difference between trail running cultures between the us and the European scene is that in the us ultra running was very much born out of running and you're very much born out of the traditional sort of running, uh, you know, history and that you were highly talented high school athlete raced collegially, et cetera. But in Europe, the sport is really born out of mountaineering. And so the best athletes in Europe are more outdoor mountain sport athletes. And as you're describing all the best athletes are spending time in the mountains 365 days a year. And that inherently means they're spending a lot of time on their skis. And so it sounds like you're intentionally as an UN coached person, who's always sort of been self directed in your training, sort of picking up on what, uh, your European counterparts are doing in an effort to put yourself in a good position for UT M B am I right in that?

Jim Walmsley: Yeah, I think, um, it kind of again goes to where I need to improve in my own running background. I, yeah, I think the running part comes pretty natural, but the surviving over cold nights, uh, tend to get to me and beat me up a bit. Um, so I think just full lean right into that, um, is kinda what I'm looking to do. I mean, I don't feel like I'm very far off, I have some experience with it, but I, I don't think I'm as good as I need to be or should be, um, where that's just kind of the biggest area of improvement I could do. Yeah. So, uh, that's what I'm gonna kind of try to focus on.

Dylan Bowman: It's so funny, man, isn't it, because everybody knows you're like the best of all time and the heat. And so yeah, naturally it's the, it's the cold nights that actually puts you in an uncomfortable position or maybe a vulnerable position. Um, and yeah, it's smart of you to make that intentional choice to, you know, correct those potential vulnerabilities with this move to Europe. So talk about the, uh, the logistics of it all. I mean, how are you gonna manage, uh, a year and a half over there? Did you secure an athlete visa like Hillary Allen did or,

Jim Walmsley: Um, so basically that's what we're looking to do. Uh, I contacted the lady maybe in November last year and she basically said like full stop. You have, you can only start applying three months before you plan on going. Um, so it's a lady, uh, excuse me. Uh, not familiar with, I, I don't know. It's something I'm about to revisit, uh, in the next couple weeks. Okay. But, um, basically, uh, it's pretty straightforward. You kind of have to provide enough, uh, evidence that your top of your field in whatever you do. And it's a talent visa. It's not really an athlete specific visa, but, um, as long as you can prove that you're one of the best in the world at what you do, um, you can apply for this visa and, uh, there's a lady in Seattle that helps kind of expedite and keep track of all of it that Hillary and Katie sche both used.

Dylan Bowman: Okay. Yeah.

Jim Walmsley: I'm PR I'm pretty sure that both use the same. Um, and so they've kind of, uh, pioneered the way a little bit and discovered this way of getting into France and it's, uh, good for four years in France and then you can reapply for it again at the end of that. Um, but

Dylan Bowman: So you're basically going into the application period now and you, you haven't yet secured it.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. We're about to, um, I kind of look at it mindset wise of, uh, I'll go there for the whole training block and through UTM B regardless. Um, and then kind of hopefully by then it's secured. Uh, but hopefully it takes shorter and we have it before leaving. Yeah. But, um, worst case scenario, hopefully before UT M B uh, and if not, um, we, we might be coming back to do a little trip and probably grab more suitcases, uh, yeah. To go back to France.

Dylan Bowman: Does it feel like a scary leap for you guys? I mean, you've obviously been entrenched in the Flagstaff running community for a long time. I know your parents live not far away down in Phoenix. Yeah. Does this feel like a really exciting new adventure? Is there anything about it that makes you a little uneasy?

Jim Walmsley: It, it feels like the right time to do it. Um, I, I would say things and Flagstaff, aren't kind of exactly how they've always been. Like things are always changing and mm-hmm, just with, uh, my relationships with other athletes in town. It just kind of seems like a good time to try something new and freshen it up and just a little different environment. Um, I think Jess is a bit more intimidating and sometimes like, I'll just go full blown into it and she just kind of asks some more realistic questions of, uh, well, where are we gonna learn? That's

Dylan Bowman: Important in a married couple. You'll find that out. You'll find that

Jim Walmsley: Out. She, she balances out the logic side of it. And, but then it very quickly jumps to my priority list of like, oh, that's a good idea. We, we have to solve that of her problems or my problems. And, but she, she identifies good problems that we need to take care of first. So

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Well shout out to Jess. Yeah. She seems to be a, a really great balancing influence for you. And yeah, as I said, you'll find that, uh, it's very important to have those contrasting skill sets when you decide to share your life with somebody else and all good healthy relationships have a little bit of that tension sometimes, but yeah. Have you guys figured out where you're gonna land? Is it like Shamini or Ansy or where in France are you looking at? Um,

Jim Walmsley: Shaman is usually a little too busy. It's not,

Dylan Bowman: You can't go anywhere in town, man. You've got the, the killing situation where,

Jim Walmsley: Well, the, the week of the race is like that for like all the athletes that get, uh, the attention. So a week before and a week after U T M B is insane now, then not, it, it is fairly quiet in sham, but, um, I would say we're looking for more of a French experience. So actually being in, um, a nearby city, uh, is what we are looking at. And then it's kind of debating, um, what we can find. Uh, so like we search in the states on, you might look at Airbnb VBR, R O um, I mean, that's not what they're using over there to list things. They don't have a Craigslist that they like or Zillow or realtor.com. Like they, they don't use any of that. That's all American stuff. Uh, so they have Lelong coin, uh, fr, um, which is kind of like a Craigslist thing that I, I go through, but the choices aren't always exactly where you want them to be. And then typically those are unfurnished. So at least for the beginning block, um, I'm looking a little bit at just a monthly Airbnb, um, because we can get the right location and just get it furnished. Mm-hmm and kinda, I feel like have about four months to network to actually find like a year rental. Yeah. That seems like a somewhat good plan, smart way of going about it. Um, and then it's kind of a, a little bit how close, uh, Franco will let me move in. Um,

Dylan Bowman:

Jim Walmsley: So we're looking at the four area. Cool. Um, the other valley is lake Conine and then kind of, uh, even coordinating some things with Hayden Hawks, cuz he's mentioning, wanting to move out potentially at the end of the year.

Dylan Bowman: Oh, oh wow.

Jim Walmsley: So yeah, we, we might

Dylan Bowman: Try, we're losing our champions to the, to the French ultra scene.

Jim Walmsley: Well, I think you like me, like we like the running stuff, but um, need to kinda probably improve in some other areas and

Dylan Bowman: I mean it's more

Jim Walmsley: Well founded.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. It's brilliant. I mean, for

Jim Walmsley: It's fun, I dunno at the very least it's fun.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. And you and Hayden being at the level that you are, but also having the self-awareness to know where you need to improve, especially when you want to compete at a race like UTM B, which does challenge your skill set, even how talented you are. I have to share a, a quick story, um, from a conversation I had with Jess when we were at UTM this past year, because I think it makes you so relatable and that was she and I were talking about how you guys were sort of loosely planning on making this jump over to Europe temporarily. And she said something to the effect of, yeah. We just feel like it's kind of the right time right now, Jim, his contract ends, you know, at X time and he just, you know, wants to do that now while he is still safe with his contract.

Dylan Bowman: And it just made my, you know, it just made me laugh hysterically because it made it evident that you struggle with the same thing. The rest of us athletes struggle with of just like, oh yeah, my contract is ends at X date. And at that time I have no security. And for all of us, it's actually like a fairly stressful thing to carry around all the time. And for you, you know, one of the best of all time, it just made me laugh hysterically. And I think it may makes you relatable in that you're struggling with the same psychological things that us, uh, mere mortals are as well. Talk about. I mean,

Jim Walmsley: I still have no idea, like what I'm gonna do when I grow up. Like, uh, I, I don't know. Um, yeah, the, the contract stuff, uh, they always have terminations on the end of 'em. Uh, they're gonna end at some point, everybody knows that. So, uh, there's a bit of stress of that. Like you're not gonna do what you're doing. You're not gonna be 20, 30 years old forever. Yep. So, um, that loos over, I mean, I think we always hope there's another one. There's another good contract there.

Dylan Bowman: Something tells you

Jim Walmsley: Try

Dylan Bowman: To yeah. So tells

Jim Walmsley: Who you that one. Yeah, yeah. May, maybe who knows. Well, hopefully that'd be really great for me. I, I appreciate that.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Well it, it's kind of good to have that sense of desperation or wanting to live up to the support that you're receiving, but yeah, I thought it was incredibly hilarious and relatable when Jess shared that with me. Cuz of course I was thinking, yeah, right. Like of course, you know, when Jim's contract comes to its, it comes to its clothes, you know, there'll be no shortage of people wanting to res resign him, including his, his current partners who he is been so loyal and committed to. So well, another, uh, I mean that's super exciting, man. I'm really excited to sort of see where you guys land. And I think it's really intelligent for you to make this move now and your career when you guys are young, when you're still in your prime and to really go after UT M B in the way that it sort of deserves to be, uh, approached. And we'll talk a little bit more about that in a little bit, but another sort of exciting thing that's happened recently for you is you, you secured another ultra runner of the year at award five in a row. Is it getting boring for you at this point? I imagine like

Jim Walmsley: Getting, um, no, I, I just feel like I get ripped more and more online of like, oh, this international athlete, this international athlete, this internationally, uh, like, and it's just, I, people are always entering the sport. I, I don't think so. A lot of times just people don't know or don't understand or why isn't it an international voting thing. Um, and I think I recently listened to like urine Karens end of the year podcast thing. Um, but why, why there isn't um, I, I think they could even keep like a top 10 north American American sort of thing. I think that's good for a north American based magazine. Uh, I mean it puts kind of excitement within their own community. Uh, however, a co like international top 10, where basically you get to see like, all right out of the Americans that were top 10, which ones actually mixed it up, like internationally too. Mm-hmm um, would even give it some perspective. Uh, but, um, definitely trying to weigh the, I mean big's backyard Harvey's big backyard. Yeah. Um, Nick Curry's 24 hours on that track, um, with a 50 K like Adam Peterman yeah. To my road hundred K to whatever's going on. Um, I mean, I think killings run back in Spain, which is about a hundred K was a really phenomenal run this year. Um,

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. France while obviously doing great things. Um, yeah, internationally, I think it would take the right people to actually even, um, consider that full panel. But at the same time, I, I also think, uh, you'd have to have international voters as well. Um, and I, I'm not sure there are many non north American voters on the panel.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah, no that it's all north American voters for Thero panel.

Jim Walmsley: And then there's also all of Asia, which I think as Americans and Europeans, all of us struggle to break into following their ultra running, uh, seen all I know is it's deep, it's gnarly. I don't understand like, which like where someone's coming from and the Chinese runners like, uh, give me a fright of, I just feel like they have the gnarliest courses in the world and yeah. Any one of them could come in and just crush a race and we've never heard of 'em and it's just like

Dylan Bowman: Sort of anonymous. It's almost like sometimes the Kenyans coming into half marathons or marathons and they're like 18 years old and yeah, they're the hero, their local village, but nobody's ever heard of 'em. Yeah. Well, I, I mean a spoiler alert, but it's definitely something that I'm thinking about. Maybe free trail would be in a good position to create a year end international trail runner of the year award, maybe with short distance and long distance. And my vision, something that I would be passionate about doing is making it, you know, voted on by the athletes, something that, uh, where we can all sort of share our respect for one another in a voting format. I have to figure out the logistics of putting that together,

Jim Walmsley: But I, I mean,

Dylan Bowman: It needs to exist. It needs to exist. So somebody's gotta do it.

Jim Walmsley: Our sports may be one of the most unique sports in that for the most part, it's a pretty symbiotic relationship and positive relationship from athlete to athlete. And I don't think we have many hard feelings within the entire sport, which is pretty insane. And, um, even with the current commentating, like you're a current elite athlete like you and I go toe to toe and you're out there at Western states commentating and being able to be on a stage and say positive things about things that like you run with those people and you, you know, there's strengths and you can actually like when you're running with someone, you actually feel that person and you know, their strengths and there's just like, this guy's really good. Or like just a beast, uh, in this way or that way. And you can talk about those things.

Dylan Bowman: So I wanted to talk about this later, but we should totally riff on this because I think it's pretty special thing. And that's your relationship with Fransua and in the recent long shorts documentary, I think they did a good job of sort of illustrating the mutual respect that you guys have for one another. And really just like a genuine friendship that you guys have for one another. And as you just described, it's a special thing where the two, you guys too, the best of all time can have that type of relationship while still maintaining a competitive rivalry reflect on your guys' relationship. How did you guys meet and, and sort of what's that friendship like between you and Franco?

Jim Walmsley: Um, I guess we met maybe for the first time, uh, in UT M B at, in 2017 and basically had a found ourselves, uh, working together to beat up one of the other greatest of all times kill and kind of put killing on the ropes for maybe the first 70 miles. Uh, but then I also found myself like with these juggernauts and I was the one that exploded like, oh, no, like I, so, but that was my only UT M B finish, um, coming after a DNF at Western states. And like, to this day, I've always done U T M B after Western states. And I've only finished one of 'em every single time, but, um, neither here that nor there, but, um, kind of maybe gained some interest in each other, uh, then, um, and then probably another really, there's a couple of other things, but, um, another really big one was Fran SW got into hard rock for 2000, 19 years ago.

Jim Walmsley: Yep. Uh, and he still went out to Silverton to go train, even though the race got canceled. And I'm like, dude, I'm out here every year. Let's let's link up. And, uh, that was post Western stays for me, so trying to recover, but I wasn't doing U T M B. He, he kind of talked me into like, um, we, we had stayed in touch and kind of talked me into, trying to take a year off of UT M B to, to let some psych build about the race again. And, uh, so I went to Silverton, we banged out a monster week. Um, and it was kind of funny cuz we didn't connect about it till months later and was just like, dude, I was on the brink of like breaking and like , that was such odd either one of you guys wanted to admit that you were, and then he is like, no, you were pushing it.

Jim Walmsley: And I was, I was hurting really bad and it was pretty funny. I mean we're both at above 9,000 feet and just doing massive vert days and um, doing little beer challenges up the avalanche shoot, uh, to kind of kick kick off the end of the week. Um, and then what's another one I think, uh, another one was when he was doing the, he had planned to do the FK T for just the P C T of Washington. And I didn't realize how just amazing of a section of trail that is. Yeah, it's just awesome. And I remember it was kind of the beginning of my block for the world championships in Argentina. So again, in 2019 later and uh, I decided like, screw it. I'm gonna go out there and pace him. And I didn't know what I was gonna be getting myself into, um, kind of tracking it.

Jim Walmsley: Uh, dude, he was putting in like 80 mile days through a foot of snow. Uh, it, it, it wasn't possible. Yeah. And just, I I'm at home just going, I'm going out there, I'm going to help. I, I like this is crazy. I'm gonna suffer like so bad, just trying to keep, keep up. Like, this is crazy. And I, I was initially thinking like, oh, maybe I'll do like 10, 20 miles and try to do this and that. And then as it came closer, I'm like, no, I need to be all in. Like I'm, I'm gonna run days with him. Or like, maybe I'll just run the whole second half with him. I have no idea what I'm gonna end up doing. And then unfortunately like they, that I showed up, I showed up at maybe 11:00 PM and they're man, these French guys got this RV together.

Jim Walmsley: It's him and his friends and they just have these bottles of Safeway, $9 wine. And they're just going to town like, wait, wait, what's going on? And they're like, ah, are we T in the towel where we quit? The weather is too bad and just like the funest group and they have these like hand games to play and then someone's gotta eat a spicy pickle of like, what, like, I'm pretty sure I lost that a couple times and just refused to eat the pickle. Like, um, so that was really cool experience to go up there. Um, kind of do some camping, running, uh, meet some of his friends that he, he does some big days and these guys are beast. Like they're not ultra trail runners per se. And uh, they hop in for 40, 50 miles with Fransua like,

Dylan Bowman: That's the European mindset, isn't it athletes.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So we've had a couple stories, just kind of overlapping here and there and always kind coming back together and reconnecting and yeah. What

Dylan Bowman: You, what you learned

Jim Walmsley: From him really nice

Dylan Bowman: Because like, obviously, like, you know, he, when he finished second to you at Western states, he was so classy and was nothing but deferential to your unique skill set to tackle that race, which you've displayed now three separate times. What have you learned from him? Because you got to pace him. Yeah. At hard rock this year, you got a front row seat to one of the greatest mountain hundred mile performances of all time. I loved in the long shorts video. And you, they included you, uh, talking to the GoPro, talking trash to me, you know, while in arrears of, of Fransua, what was you

Jim Walmsley: Like, I remember trying to go up camp, bird road and trying to peek I'd see you sometimes, but then I'd like duck behind to make sure you wouldn't see us. I'm like, no, no, stay closer to this side. Cuz I was like not 60 miles into a race. I was a little more aware and he was just like, oh, okay, we'll go to this side of the road. But um, I I'm just continually amazed at how talented of a hiker he is. Yeah. Like, honestly, it's one of his super skills cuz in, in the best way possible. Cause in my opinion, I think it keeps your heart rate down your metabolism down, um, your, your sweat rate down, like all these things that are more maintainable. Um, and his ability to read when to run, when to hike, um, how to use the poles, how to use everything in his pack, um, his layering system to stay comfortable. Um, he's just got it. Dialed. I mean you look at pictures of Fran, his outfit hasn't changed in 10 years. 10 years. Yeah. I think, I think 12 years ago, uh, he did him and ke were into the white spandex. Right. Yeah.

Dylan Bowman: And I basically,

Jim Walmsley: Yeah, yeah. So, uh, he's throwing shorts over that and that's about all that's changed, like

Dylan Bowman: Right. Yeah. He's always got that, you know, form fitted thermal layer that he wears at night with his pack over it. And then, you know, if he needs his jacket, he's got it. And he is got the long shorts and the calf sleeves and it's so true. It's like super

Jim Walmsley: Bomber light too. Yeah. Um, he's got his headlight really dialed and I think that comes in a lot from, uh, ski mountaineering. Um, I think France wa out of anyone, uh, in the world, as far as like top ultra trail stuff does big mountain days and really plays in the mountains. Like more than Killion, more than me, more than other people, he is living and adventuring and surviving and exploring the mountains. And, um, just kind of always trying to embrace that a bit. I, I would say it's more of a mental way of embracing things than it is, um, uh, actually learning or copying this or that. I think trying to figure out my own way of doing it. But, um, yeah, I, cuz I still think like there's a difference of, I guess when I race rent while sometimes I think about like if I could keep it a little more upbeat and make him jog when he doesn't want to jog, I can make him kinda maybe suffer a little more.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Play your game rather than you playing his game.

Jim Walmsley: But it's also a negative for me too, of like, well, you're still burning matches right now. Um, and so it's interesting. I think we, we like that we're competitive, but at the same time, very different. Um, yeah, it makes it really fun to it's

Dylan Bowman: So cool. Yeah. Compete against each other. It's entertaining. Right. And he does have that just like sense of calm and his consistency is just mind blowing, how he just

Jim Walmsley: Smooth

Dylan Bowman: And he is just got those systems dialed so smooth using the same equipment that he has been for 12 years and, uh, the results just keep piling up and the trophies keep accumulating on his shelf much like yourself. But yeah, I just think that your guys' relationship is a cool Testament to the spirit of the sport at the highest level, two of the great champions being also genuinely good friends, to the extent that you'll help. 'em at hard rock six weeks before you guys do battle.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. I, I feel bad that I'm not gonna be back at, I, I haven't missed Western states or hard rock in the last seven. I mean even the races haven't happened and I've been in Silverton every hard rock week. Like, um, and there's, I mean, it, it really like even crossed my mind, like I gotta fly back for Western states and hard rock and then it's just kind of shaking my head of like, you either gotta commit to going to Europe or, or don't and yeah, I'm gonna be missing it. And I I'm gonna be having to put the phone away and going on big training days to get my mind off of it. Cuz especially hard rock this year. I mean the only guy on the list that needs to be added to that is you, but um, , it is, it is a monster men's field up front, um, which isn't always typical. Um, a lot of times it's draws one joke or not and that's about it and yeah,

Dylan Bowman: Unfortunately Iranian did not Palaz who finished second to Franco at UT M B isn't isn't gonna make it mm-hmm I actually had a email exchange with him this week. He's expecting his first child part rock week. So he's not gonna be able to make it that's

Jim Walmsley: That's exciting. Yeah.

Dylan Bowman: It's it's

Jim Walmsley: Good for maybe he'll be back at UT M B I think the UT M B that's list is, uh, extremely exciting. Um, yeah, I think there's really talented guys, uh, in that field. Um, I'll have to look over it again, but I know Tom Evans is hopping in it, uh, gonna be kind of his first thing. You're Louis Albertos hopping in UT B again for the first time in a long time. And there's definitely more names that I'm like actually like, all right, there's no killing. There's no Franco, there might not even be a Savier but um, with his health issues, but it, it, it's not any more confidence inspiring walking into that one. So I, I think it's gonna be a really exciting year.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah, no doubt. As it always does,

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Dylan Bowman: So I guess let's, uh, back up a little bit and just at least talk briefly about Western states for, of course you were able to secure the three peat and another just absolutely incredible performance winning by 80 minutes. And one of the hardest days ever of those three victories that you have at Western states. I mean, I'm sure they're all super special, but it seemed to me like that one was a special one, especially given the fact that you're somewhat compromised in your training buildup in the months ahead of Western states. And of course coming off the canceled year with COVID, what was it like to secure that three peed and how did the three of those victories rank against each other? Yeah,

Jim Walmsley: Um, it, they're all really unique. They're all really unique buildups. They're all really unique how they kind of went down even though the outcomes somewhat similar, but um, honestly nothing will ever beat 2018, uh, after kind of feeling like I just was almost even giving up as far as aspirations was just like, look, I just wanna go run. Um, I, I could care less what's happening. I'm just gonna, I'm tired of throwing it out there. Like I I've just gotten torn up by this race. I need to just go do it. Um, and then having a super breakthrough and I don't think 2000, I think 2018 was actually pretty similar conditions and stuff to this last year. Uh, both really, really hot years. 2019 I think was things clicked. Um, had Jared on my heels. That was really fun. We did a lot of training together for that one. So that was pretty special. And then just to have a bit of a cooler day, I mean the times across the board were just ripped fast and

Dylan Bowman: I don't how anybody touches that time. Of course it's recency by yeah. It's

Jim Walmsley: SOSS run when he won was actually cooler than 2019.

Dylan Bowman: Wow.

Jim Walmsley: And then

Dylan Bowman: He like 1536 or something like that.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah.

Dylan Bowman: Like more than an hour slower than you. Yeah.

Jim Walmsley: He had a good year though. Yep. Statistically, um, I don't, I wasn't there for the actual legitimate conditions though. Cause something that isn't easy to go back at the books and really check too is, uh, snow conditions in the high country. That's a lot harder, harder to study than just the hard the, the temperatures. But you can look at snow routes. You can look at the, the water level. Um, all of that stuff, Western space is pretty meticulous at, so takes a lot of subjectivity and context to put a picture together. Uh, but Tim of the Olsons year was also another in LA Greenwood year, another 10 degrees cooler than even 2019. So like the freak days happen and basically you gotta keep showing up, you gotta keep being ready. And then when the weather, when the weather happens, I mean, someone's, someone's gonna roll it. And then, and then they gotta race. But on a hot year, I, I mean, I still think 15 hours is the mark to beat of like, uh, if, if you're breaking 15 hours on any given year, um,

Dylan Bowman: You putting yourself in contention,

Jim Walmsley: Insane place. Yeah. Yeah. Um, very rarely do you go under 15 and not win.

Dylan Bowman: So how did your lead up to the race, maybe change your psychology about training in general? I know now you're doing some skimo stuff, you're doing some verdict stuff and you were pretty open before Western states about the fact that you were dealing with a knee issue. I think it was, and you were spending a lot of time on the trainer. In fact, you kind of secured a partnership with wahoo as a result and it, and it paid off. And obviously you've always been known as sort of a high volume run, only type guy. And it now seems almost mirroring some of the, um, training strategies of the European athletes we've talked about. You're diversifying your training skill set. Was, is that sort of born out of this training build up to Western states where you're somewhat, I

Jim Walmsley: Mean, I, I don't find I had the same energy I had five years ago really. Um, yeah, in a lot of ways, like I look at training block after training block, after training block that I, I mean, 2016 was insane. I, I raised a bunch, bunch. I mean, it was a fun time and it was awesome. And I got to kind of compete a lot more as a dark horse and do more of the local air Viper races and just show up and nobody is expecting anything and just like, feel like I just nailed it and it could be a PE dunk race. And I just like served a world class performance at it and didn't even know what I was doing. That that was a lot of fun. Um, I would say there's two things with that. Sometimes I, I kind of question if I, if I feel as, uh, much energy as I used to have, or, um, also with it is the pressure of showing up to races and expecting a certain level of performance outta myself.

Jim Walmsley: And really, I think it goes to professionalizing it, to make sure that at the big races you bring your, your best a game. And so, so there's a little bit of a step back to some patience and not over racing and missing your opportunity at the big race, but you've been kind of lightening it up all year. Um, I think eventually, like there's a certain point where you need to just focus on the important races, let the other one slide and build your career that way. And I think that's kind of how my, especially, I mean, you look at, I did four races this last year. Um, three outta four went really great. The, I, I just really struggled again with the turnaround from Western states to UT M B. I think they're just very different ends of the spectrum race. So, I mean, I just even go from Western states, sauna, Phoenix, grand canyon to just freezing my butt off in Colorado and just not being able to stay warm after doing so much heat training. Um, the heat training's a bit interesting because I also think it it's a bit interesting in that. Um, I didn't do heat training in 2020 during COVID year. And when I went to Colorado, I didn't feel as good as I usually do at super high elevations. So for super high altitude blocks, um, I kind of like the thought of doing heat training, then high altitude that there's the blood volume thing with the heat. But, um,

Dylan Bowman: To say that heat

Jim Walmsley: Training is,

Dylan Bowman: Is like the poor man's altitude training. Right? Yeah. That's fascinating that it feels like almost the heat training makes you worse in the cold, going from Western states to UT M B to

Jim Walmsley: I, I think so. I mean, I lived a couple years in Montana. Um, it gets cold there, but I did fine with it. I wasn't training at a high level while I was up there, but I was still training a bit and I was getting outside a lot and just, I mean, I remember running a half marathon in like a t-shirt gloves and some half tights and it was maybe around 10 degrees and just like, that's what people do in Montana is just not a big deal. And I wasn't doing summer vacations anywhere mm-hmm . Um, but as far as diversifying sports and stuff, I mean, I was still doing a bit of, so I would say 11 weeks out from Western states, I made a call to back off on my it band. And basically that I could take three weeks and basically dedicated three weeks to the indoor trainer mm-hmm um, so the bike and I just started biking and I was like, look, I'm gonna stay fit on the bike. And then eight weeks to go. I gotta make something happen in eight weeks hit. And I'm like, my knee's still killing me. Like, what do I do? And just kind of by chance I realized when I was going really steep up really steep down, didn't notice it

Dylan Bowman: Was the flat stuff.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. I would have about two miles from my house to some of the steep trails and then two miles back. And generally I would feel it on my way out and when I'm finishing, but once I get to the Hills or mountains, I could go up, I could go down, up, down, up, down, and even the grand canyon, like six to 750 feet per mile might not steep enough. I was trying to keep it probably over a thousand feet per mile. that's steep.

Dylan Bowman: That's

Jim Walmsley: The real thing, pretty steep. So, I mean, it's

Dylan Bowman: Not like Western states training,

Jim Walmsley: Not typical. Um, so I actually thought I was gonna transfer really well to UT M B. Um, but for other reasons I don't think it did, but, um, probably only two weeks out. I finally started getting good feelings with the it band. I wasn't even sure. Um, two weeks out, like before it started kind of finally going away that, um, cuz I just tried to avoid hurting it. So if I could do it, I would do it. If I felt it, I, I would stop. Um, and so I did almost zero flat training and then with two weeks ago I felt confident enough to throw in maybe one workout on flat and then was like, all right, it's good. And then, uh, so just went in to you to Western states with, uh, a lot of vertical up down and really difficult runs and routes that like people don't link up here in Flagstaff, which is kind of funny.

Dylan Bowman: Did it change your mindset about how to train at all and moving away from the 140 to 160 mile weeks? Yeah. And, and maybe doing shorter blocks.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. So I guess I, I got up to a hundred and I wanna say my block was 120 miles, so significantly less than what I've done for Western states before, but yeah. Um, essentially it gave me some confidence that I've got a base of training of years now, um, that I haven't had in my life. And that right now there's more than one way to train for a race and especially giving me more confidence that I can get in really good fitness on the bike. I think I've done really good training on a bicycle several times in my career now. And um, that's giving me some confidence to, especially now like, um, the biggest reason why I'm doing Nordic ski. Well, I guess there's a couple things at play for this year, but um, the first thing, uh, I'm just trying to avoid racing. So essentially after Cape town, one of my goals, so Cape town was end in November. One of my goals was just get back into shape. And so I started running relatively early and basically things started clicking and I'm like, oh man. And I started looking at black can black canyon. I'm like, I should do black canyon. And just like for what reason? And just, I couldn't really justify it other than like be a bully on the local course. I don't know. um, and like, I'm just like, that sounds so awesome. But then it goes, take a deep breath, big picture. What's this year about it's about UT M B

Dylan Bowman: TMB.

Jim Walmsley: Yep. What does black canyon have in common with U T M B and it's like damn

Dylan Bowman: Nothing. Yeah.

Jim Walmsley: I mean it's long, right. But not, not much. Um, I do think in general, there's my 2 cents real quickly about black gen everyone's way harder than on paper. Um, it's very undulating. So I, I do think people should do more vert than they give it credit for. Uh, but nonetheless not important. Um, so basically January comes around and I just decide, pull a plug on like training. That was going pretty good. I just pulled it. And like, I'm not gonna run like in January, we're just gonna see how this goes. And wow. We, we started getting snow and I had gotten a schema set up and then in Tahoe, um, we couldn't really, we, we weren't properly prepared for just getting dumped on Fe snow and we just had our uphill set up. So, uh, Jess was like, let's go to the Nordic center. Oh my gosh, Nordic skiing is,

Dylan Bowman: Is brutal.

Jim Walmsley: I, I haven't been sore from an ultra as much as I was from. I did like two hours on the Nordic skis and just, yeah. And then jokingly when I proposed her, uh, she's like, oh, you learn, you had to learn how to ski before you could ask me to marry her. But, uh, yeah,

Dylan Bowman: You know, there's a great tradition in our sport too, of Nordic skiers being awesome trail ultra runners with Courtney Dewal and Rory Bozi and Savier ARD. And I mean, Ben Tru is an incredible, I

Jim Walmsley: Mean, Scott jerk and dust their book back in the day, starts with them in high school, Nordic skiing.

Dylan Bowman: Oh, that's super mature of you though. I think, you know, as you talk about not feeling like you have the same energy you did in 2016, when you were in your mid twenties, now here you are in your early thirties to have that self-awareness and to voluntarily pull the plug on training that feels like it's going really well. And keeping that big picture in mind. Is that a decision you think you would've made in your mid twenties?

Jim Walmsley: Not at all. I would've done it for sure. Look at you're

Dylan Bowman: Engaged. You're actually resting. You're diversifying your training. This

Jim Walmsley: Is a new job. Well, I mean, I was on the bike a few hours this morning, but um, I'm still training. I feel really good. I feel well rounded. I feel really healthy. So I feel like everything that I'm in a good spot. Um, but one of the ideas is just trying to open the season later. Um, I think the skiing really that's one of the biggest advantages I think the Europeans have over the Americans is by the time the end of August, basically September rolls around, they might have one, two races in their legs. And for the most part, the Americans are showing up with a season in their legs. Tired. Yeah. And um, so I'm really looking at trying to open up in April, um, instead of the usual January, February, and just drag dragging on another cycle and this and that, and even doing Cape 10 at the end of the year, kind of, I think helped me relax a bit with, I got an end of the year racing and let's just

Dylan Bowman: The body remembers that it wasn't that long ago. Yeah. Slow. Yeah. It's funny. Cause I I've like barely been running, but I've gotten in a couple of decent runs recently and I actually like finally got a good like tempo in, or just like did a local route where I just kind of pushed all the climbs. It's like, I actually feel pretty good. Like not that far off. And then it's like, well I did just suffer through a 27 hour, a hundred miler, like whatever it was two months ago and three months ago, the Bo the body remembers not to not to mention the 12 years of self abuse. I've put myself through in the lifetime of, uh, athletic pursuits, but that's awesome, man. I'm so happy to hear that. And I think, you know, you've got all the talent in the world and with this sort of like intentional mature approach, that's what it's gonna take for the Americans to finally achieve success on the UT M B course.

Dylan Bowman: So let's actually talk about U T M B a bit from this past year. You and I ran together a little bit on the Italian side in the days leading up to the race and it was sort of clear that you were somewhat compromised. You had a thing going on with your foot. You had to like tie your shoes in a weird way. Um, and you know, one of the things that stood out after the race, of course, after the Americans had another disappointing, showing Tim Olson said something to the effect of that, he didn't have the courage to not start. I wondered if you had heard that and if that, that, uh, resonated with you at all, like if you looking back at how it went, do you kind of regret that you stood on that start line knowing? No,

Jim Walmsley: Not at all. Um, I've regretted not putting my hat in the ring at UT M B when I haven't. Um, I think it's a really big career goal and I'd rather lose the race or not go well than not try. I, I don't know. Um, for me, I, I didn't see a reason not to do it. I, I thought I had a good enough block, um, kind of hit some decent training. It, at least some of the volume was there. I thought I really banked on trying to do a bit more freshness over fitness. And I think the two UT MBS before that I had some of the best training blocks I've ever done. And just kind of the tiredness shows in my UT M B race. And then this year, I think I was a little bit, maybe even on the other side of like, could have been a little more fit. Um, but just, no, I, I don't know. I think, uh, given one day earlier, one day later, I think my own feelings in the race would've been different. Um, but unfortunately like kind of get going and I mean, even 15, 20 miles in I, so 2018 was a bad experience at U T M B. Like my legs fell apart after 20 miles. Like really?

Dylan Bowman: And that's after you broke the course record at Western states and then went to Silverton and started doing 150 mile weeks in the San Juans, like I say, that's the

Jim Walmsley: I've ever been. Yeah. Yeah. It's the fittest I've ever been in my life and it paid off absolutely 0% at UTMB. Um, and I was, I, I just remember, even to this day, like vividly how bad my legs felt going through, like Conine 19 miles into, into the race. I'm like, oh boy, this is gonna be a tough race. Like, let's go. But let's like, this is gonna be tough, but let's go like, let's go get it. And then like, I'll leave the valley and just, oh, no, like this is really bad. Like, um, and it wasn't that bad this year, but I knew things weren't clicking. Like I usually for an ultra, like I can do the preparation and everything and at least the legs are feeling good and like, just be patient, no problem. And you'll build, build, build, and it'll be okay. It still just didn't feel completely right at UT M B. And I would say I gave it 40 miles of hanging out, hanging out, hanging out, waiting for it to turn a corner, turn a corner. And then just, um, it was actually dropping into corn, my air halfway. I, I mean, I mentioned we ran past, um, someone that Fransua and I both know, and like, how's it going? I'm like, actually it sucks. Like I'm just not having a great time. And then, um, you're running

Dylan Bowman: In the lead with Fran SW this time. So

Jim Walmsley: Yeah's, it's an amazing

Dylan Bowman: Day for you is still day

Jim Walmsley: A

Dylan Bowman: Dream for me

Jim Walmsley: And even Fran while I was like, oh, I mean, I, I feel pretty tired. Like I think we're both similar situation, but I told him like, just before the, a station, like, like I gotta try to take some calories in and take some time. And then it's amazing when you get in there in the middle of the night and just how much false readings you get, because of all the energy of seeing people. And there's like basically a six hour block from like Conine to cor my air and then corn, my air to SHPE lock and that middle place in corn, my air, like you go from, with the pit to like, dude, we got this, like, let's go. And, and basically I just, I didn't slow down enough. I didn't eat enough. Um, and I need to regroup more there if it was gonna be possible.

Jim Walmsley: And basically I left going like this game on and I actually caught Fran while twice on the climb out. Um, one time I think, cuz he made some wrong turns out of the city. And so I caught him pretty quick. Come on bro. you focused thing three times, you should know your way. Um, and then I stopped to go to the bathroom cuz we ran past import. They need to put some porta potties that are accessible to runners and corn, my air, I go through there every single time going, I need to go to the bathroom and I've never seen a bathroom and basically like I always leave and like I need to go somewhere and we ran past the porta potty. I'm like I'm using it. So did that and then caught back up, but just hit the lowest of lows as we're going up.

Jim Walmsley: One of the steepest climbs of the race and um, I, I was just tired of waiting for it to turn the corner and uh, yeah, I called Jess, uh, in the middle of the race and I'm just like, I, I think I'm gonna turn around and go back to core my air and she's just like, I'm, I'm not, I left. I'm not picking you up. And then I get super pissed, hang up. She's like keep going. And then I hang up and then, uh, I call back again. I'm like, it's not coming back. Like I K I'm I'm not even walking well at this point. And basically she's like, keep going. You're doing great, blah, blah. Like just this and that. And super pissed hung up. And basically in retrospect I'm like, I probably never want a crew to ever pick me up that aid station actually.

Jim Walmsley: I think it was amazing. And you, it's not your crew's job to pick you up and take you home. It's your cruises job to get you to the finish line. So in retrospect I think it was amazing. Um, however, I started what, not the bad guy, no, Jess is not a bad guy, but in, at that moment she was the bad guy. Yeah. I think she did absolutely the best thing for me and wanted me to finish and keep going and keep fighting. But, um, I was just broken and yeah. Um, nonetheless that's when I pulled over the side of the trail and I started putting on all of the clothes in my pack and I'm just like, this is gonna be a while. And like all the top guys are passing me and they're just like, oh, uh, do you need help? I'm like, I'm just getting my jackets out man. And like, and I remember reading, like Orion's like write up and he's like, and then I passed Jim and he was done I'm like, man, why'd you have to say it like, or however he worded it. And it was like, he was so right. so,

Dylan Bowman: Uh, what, what's it like though? I mean, for you, I think one of the things that listeners would love to hear about is just like, you know, dealing with that failure, you know, especially when the lights are on you, you know, it's something that nobody who listens this podcast will be able to relate with is like being at UT M B in sham and having to wear a mask through town so that people don't recognize you, everybody expecting you to have the best race ever and to have to drop out. Yeah. What what's that like? I mean, do you have situations where you're just like, God, I am fricking unworthy of this attention. Like this is embarrassing.

Jim Walmsley: Like the first like unworthy part is I've only raced U TMB with bid number one. Like next time, if they gimme bid number one, I'm clipping it upside down. Like or if they give two

Dylan Bowman: Draw like a three next to it. So you're number 13.

Jim Walmsley: No I'm gonna, because I think in cycling, if they think the bad number is bad luck or if they think the number is bad luck, usually 13 only they'll flip it upside down.

Dylan Bowman: Oh,

Jim Walmsley: That's cool. Um, and it's technically, I think for 13 it's allowed, I, I don't think other numbers it's common, but at this point, number one is bad luck for me. And um, so yeah, it sucks. Uh, it's definitely a huge low, um, I mean it is what it is it's I, I just generally let it be dry and not try to add much onto it. I don't go out and try to make excuses about what are this or that happen or what could have gone better. Um, for the,

Dylan Bowman: I admire about you too, Jim, and I think it's worth saying, because I don't think you were like telling people that your foot was beat up before the race and after the race, you weren't making excuses about it or anything like that. So, I mean, I, I do respect that, that approach that you take.

Jim Walmsley: Well, I, I, I think, yeah, if you're lining up, you're lining up where the, where it is, like in the other side of it of, I, I don't wanna hear about someone else's injury going in the race, like oh, sure. But also, um, just because you have something going on doesn't mean you can't overcome it. And, and also I'm not gonna show those cards to other people before the race, like , um, that's my business, but, um, in a lot of ways, I think finishing the year at ultra trail Cape town and going back to more of maybe a style of a race that suits my strengths pretty well was kind of a decision for me because I didn't have a race on at the end of the calendar after UT M B for the most part, I generally don't put a race on the calendar after UT M B just because I don't know how I'm gonna bounce back from that. But, um, I mean, it probably took one week before I decided I'm gonna do something of just, uh, I, I didn't wanna feel like I, I nailed it. I felt like I nailed it at ho project carbon X two, nailed it at Western states, dropped the ball at UT M B and just like was gonna leave it there. Um, more than anything I think I kind of did one more race for my own sanity and almost as a, and especially like maybe something that I consider more in my realm of strength,

Dylan Bowman: Your real house

Jim Walmsley: As a, as a little bit of a nice thing for

Dylan Bowman: Me to do confidence boost. Yeah. Well, thanks for talking about it, man. Cuz I, I think it is important to humanize people like you and understand that like man, even though you've won Western states three times when you drop out at UT M B and I'm sure you, you know, most people are supportive, but somebody at your level with the public persona that you have, I'm sure you get inundated with, you know, at least some sort of hate about, you know, not putting it together again. And of course the Americans have the reputation always dropping the ball at UT M B. So one thing I wanted to ask you about also is that UT M B Western states double. And if you think that's dead from now on like really there's, there's almost nobody who's put it together. Well like killing won both in 2011. Yeah. Both Seth Swanson and Tim Olson have put together solid runs. David, both David Laney too. Thank you. But this year it was absolute carnage for those who ran Western states and tried to do the double at UT M B. What do you, what do you think about that double? Do you think that's the last time we'll see the top professionals in our sport, try and tag both of them in the same summer?

Jim Walmsley: Well, definitely not the last time to try. Yeah. Uh, I think I saw Tim Tollson sign up for both again.

Jim Walmsley: Um, um, I think people should keep trying, I think, uh, you can have good success at both, whether you can win both. Um, I'm sure. Yeah. I, I would say our sport has a lot of growth to go through still. And I think someone, I, I, especially in the states, I think there could be a lot more done on mentorship from younger talent and younger ages. And that could change everything, um, with, with basically after five years of like getting the right role models, helping you develop and do this and you just let, 'em go. And then I think that could turn into something that, um, will take the sport to faster newer levels for sure. Like pretty easily or, um, I mean the, the top east African guys is such a fascinating interest, but at the same time, like how do the Ken like say it starts blizzarding and UT M B in the middle of the night with your headlight, like how many times has Ellie Kip Cho you done that during his training run, like the

Dylan Bowman: Different, ballgame's a whole different sport. Yeah.

Jim Walmsley: But just like you or me, like we're constantly trying to improve in those situations. Like, no, I don't wanna go training every night in a blizzard with a headlight on, in three jackets and two pairs of tights just to stay warm. However, occasionally I find myself in that situation, like, yeah. So there, yeah, it's a learnable sport, but, um, skills and I think are sometimes underestimated. And I mean, if you look at Europe for the most part, like they're, I think it's latitude, but, um, they're as high as like Montana mm-hmm and or Canada. And like they're getting real winters compared to what most of us are getting in the states. And so when it gets colder and harder weather, um, I, I think that's harder for most generally speaking Americans to transfer over. Um, but I think you also see maybe very big similarities between Americans Austral and south Africans as far as warm weather runable. Um, and then again, uh, the, how the sports developing in Asia. I mean, again, uh, it's in mostly Chinese or even Japanese has their own culture and stuff. Um, and a lot over there is all developing on, on its own in a different pattern. Yeah. In how that's gonna cross over eventually, like there there's gonna be a first Chinese winner of U T M B and the, yeah. Very soon. Like some of those guys are knocking on the door.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Wow. Fascinating them. Well, dude, it's so fun to sort of talk through all this stuff with you and I appreciate you being so open about it and I think we can kind of start winding down. I'd love to sort of hear what's up next for you. You mentioned that you might race in April, as you build up for UT M B of course. You've got a wedding to attend to. Yeah. At some point after that, and then you're gonna be moving to Europe. What does 2022 look like for you?

Jim Walmsley: Um, yeah, so some people have kind of announced the calendars and I think it's kind of funny to, I mean, I think P had 13 races on his calendar. He did I'm back

Dylan Bowman: Love P love P yeah. He pulled it off for a few years though. It's,

Jim Walmsley: It's so hard to show up for all of those races. Um, I find I start with a pretty bare bone schedule and I'll fill it in as I see fit. Um, and basically that starts with April 23rd and UTM B like for sure. I would say those are the two places I'm raising April 23rd. I'd love to do. Um, so if the last two years have taught me anything, make a backup plan. Uh, so basically option a, um, is Madera island. I think it suits the right style that I'm trying to improve on. Um, plus seems badass and fun and yeah, we'll check it out. Um, hopefully, and then backup plan would actually be probably canyons as kind of a domestic option on the same day. So regardless I'll throw together the training block with that date in mind. Um, and then, so April 23rd, getting married early may moving may middle of may find myself in France somewhere. Um, and

Dylan Bowman: I'd love it's full steam ahead towards UT being.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. I, I mean, one thing about announcing your schedule then like all of a sudden, like guys like me see P on the start line of, uh, LA on like, Ooh, that, that could be fun, but, uh, I don't know. Um, I think other people have not been completely satisfied also with a Laredo. Um, UT M B double. I mean, I, I think France was double, uh, is a bit of an outlier. Um, if anything, I think they're similar, but I mean, just for the most part doubles, aren't happening to go into UT M B I, I think he pulled it off, but I wouldn't bank on it in your schedule.

Dylan Bowman: I mean, that's going down in history. I don't see anybody else ever doing that again. A hard rock UTM B

Jim Walmsley: I think isn't Courtney signed up for, uh, oh, she's well,

Dylan Bowman: She could pull off, not

Jim Walmsley: Western state's hard rock. Right. Which are even closer.

Dylan Bowman: Oh my gosh.

Jim Walmsley: But she's could get into UT M B technically she want, I'm not sure if she signed up or not, I'd have to double check, but well,

Dylan Bowman: It's really only those yeah. Generational defining athletes that can pull those types of things off like Fran, they come along. Yeah. They come along, so yeah,

Jim Walmsley: But

Dylan Bowman: Why not try?

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. It's exciting. So I, I would say I'm not sure. I would say depends on the stress of the whole process may is gonna be a very fun, busy, stressful time and, um, could be worth stress wise its own race month. Uh, so I'm not sure I'll throw a race in between. Um, there's a slight chance of maybe trying to do a short, like golden trail race, um, as well, I think would be a good option, but that

Dylan Bowman: Would be sweet,

Jim Walmsley: But those guys

Dylan Bowman: Liners and all

Jim Walmsley: Are in their own bubble and no, uh, that's like August 7th ish, usually

Dylan Bowman: Long marathon. That would be good

Jim Walmsley: If June, July. There's not a lot

Dylan Bowman: Like Western states week,

Jim Walmsley: July, I think. Yeah. Around there. Um, July would probably be better. Yeah. Um, but you do

Dylan Bowman: The IRA trail. I dunno.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. Well

Dylan Bowman: Bro. Yeah. And you no need to make any decisions. Now I think the Madeira, UT M B combination would be amazing. I was actually thinking about going to Madeira also. So you should, we'll be able to kick my ass out

Jim Walmsley: There. No, no. We'll get the poles out and we'll

Dylan Bowman: Bust the poles

Jim Walmsley: Out, use the headlights and like, dude, why is your headlights so much brighter than

Dylan Bowman: Work on our systems? We'll try and be like trans swamp. Yeah. Yeah.

Jim Walmsley: I just swapped it for lithium batteries. They're way brighter. I'm like, oh, I didn't know that.

Dylan Bowman: Maybe, uh, one more question before I let you go. I just had Camille on the podcast and she was talking about how she wants to keep doing some of the road and track stuff while she feels like she still has her speed. Of course, she's 40 now you're still only in your early thirties, but I know you've said something similar of like wanting to tackle comrades in the a hundred K world record while you feel like you still have that type of speed in your legs and some relative youth, what are you thinking about on that front? Is there anything on the road or track or like, you know, world record realm, that's speaking to you?

Jim Walmsley: No, it's on the back burner. Um, between, I would say 50 mile hundred K attempt in 2019, the marathon trials, the half marathon was a lot of fun. Um, the one I did before, because I initially hit 1 0 4, 0, 0 to like qualify for the trials, which was just like, yeah,

Jim Walmsley: Whatev. Yeah. Interesting. But then I actually did another half marathon a month before the trials where I ran, I went through the finish line in 1 0 2 15 and everybody's like something's off. And uh, essentially they, and a little out and back section, they didn't put a cone out as far sure. As they needed to. And it was 285 meters short actually. But so I think it's about a 63, so it'd be fun to the half marathon seems to be a fun distance to not take a ton of concentration and get a lot of benefit out of. Um, and then more than that, I find I get tired of showing up to roads and wheeling out my own cones and not having it. I, I think it's a hard routine to attack road racing and not having a team structure for it, uh, is difficult. And I think that's why you see teams based for marathon stuff. I, I think it's just a really hard training regimen. Yeah. Um, and having a team to show up and do workouts with, I think is really important. But as far as ultra road stuff, uh, the hunter K kind of checked a lot of boxes for me and kind of that desire. I, I, I thought I got a lot outta myself in that race. Um, so right now I, I would say I'm gonna go all in towards the UT M B direction. And if there's, that's what it's gonna take, bro.

Dylan Bowman: That's what it's gonna take.

Jim Walmsley: If there's a growing desire to go back to the roads. I'm I, I think I can do that, but right now, um, it's not part of the plan to do any road ultra track, ultra timed, ultra, um, sort of thing. I, I find I'm happiest and taking my life towards France and big mountains and she area, I think, uh, makes me pretty happy right now. So I I'm just gonna follow that passion. I think, I think in general, it's really important to make goals that fire you up and, and give you a lot of drive to, to train hard, cuz that's what it takes, um, at, at almost any sport. And I think even sometimes coming in from track road, you think like, oh, I'm not gonna have to train as hard. These guys are all super slow, but sometimes you think about it like, well, Western states, I wouldn't be surprised if my heart rate's averaged at over 160 for 14 hours. Like it's a hard day. Um, it's not maxed out, but at the same time, like it's hard to sustain it. Um, it might not be that high, but yeah. Well I was

Dylan Bowman: Just curious. Yeah. I was just curious because like I just view you as this anomaly who has the skills obviously to win Western states three times, but who could also win comrades at a hundred K world record and win UTM B. There's just not a lot of people like you. And so I think people would be interested. I mean, but I,

Jim Walmsley: I think here unfortunate with comrades and, uh, I, no, the real unfortunate tragedy is like we had a global pandemic that has affected all of our lives and stuff, but one of the byproducts is comrades. Hasn't ran in the last two years in South Africa alone has been hit really hard in lots of other areas of the country or world. Um, it it's been a tough time for, for most people. So, um, yeah, but races are happening races. I mean, those things keep us distracted from real life problems and they're, they're the heck of a lot of fun to spend our time doing

Dylan Bowman: No doubt, man. Well, Jim, thanks so much for your time, dude. It's always great to just sit down and chat about the sport with you. I appreciate all the sort of knowledge and insights that you provided. Congratulations on the recent engagement. I love to see you this sort of renewed, mature, engaged, uh, you know, 30 in your thirties now and uh, yeah, just

Jim Walmsley: Turned 30 to, uh, this month. So happy

Dylan Bowman: Birthday

Jim Walmsley: Bro. Yeah. Thanks man.

Dylan Bowman: Well, uh, yeah. Happy birthday. Congratulations. Good luck with the move. Say hello to Jess for me. And uh, we'll talk again soon.

Jim Walmsley: Hey, sounds great. Great catching up.

Dylan Bowman: How cool was that? Thank you so much to Jim for being willing to come back on the show and give us all a glimpse behind the curtain. He is such a humble and gracious champion. It's really an honor to be able to record and share these conversations with you, all the audience, who I love and appreciate so much. I really hope you all enjoyed it. If you did, please feel free to share it with your friends and training partners post about it on social media and or leave us a review on apple podcasts. All those things are very helpful and much appreciated as we try to reach new listeners and generally make a difference in our wonderful sport. And speaking of appreciation, a big thank you to speed land and gnarly nutrition for their support of the show. If you enjoy what we do, please support our brand partners. You can find links in the show notes with 15% discount codes for each of their respective amazing products. Shout out speed, land and gnarly nutrition. Really appreciate those guys. That's it for this one. Big, thanks for all your attention. We'll talk to you guys again very soon. Love you so much. Bye bye.

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