Sunday, June 20, 2010

WS100 Interview: David A. Snipes

David A. Snipes "Sniper"
Age: 42
Hometown: Mechanicsville, VA
Years Running Ultras: 8
100 Mile Finishes (& Names): 26 100 mile races and several 24 hour events over 100 miles. Massanutten Mountain Trail 7 times, Old Dominion 6 times, Burning River 2 times
Ultra-Achievements: East Coast Slam 2005, 3 100 mile races back to back to back weekends in 2007

SJ: Sniper, thanks for taking the time to talk to us about the upcoming Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run.
DS: My pleasure Sherpa John, always good to talk with you.

SJ: David, you've been running ultra's since 2003 and since then you've run over 100 ultra's yet this will be your first Western States 100.. how does this make you feel?
DS: I was a 2 time loser in the lottery and then the fire year when it was cancelled. I was picked for 2011 in the TTL list and got lucky in the lottery this year, so this year will be a "recon" year on the course. I will learn it's secrets and really try alot harder next year.

SJ: So far this year you've competed in 9 events, one of those being your 7th straight Massanutten Mountain Trails 100, arguably the hardest 100 in the East; how have these events helped you prepare for Western States?
DS: It has definitely helped with the mental aspect of running a 100 mile race. Old Dominion was tough early on mentally and I recovered and got back into it and took care of business.

SJ: So what are you most looking forward to about Western States?
DS: The different trails and this will be the biggest field of runners in a 100 mile race for me, so there will be lots of time to meet new people.
SJ: What are your strengths heading into the race and what are your weaknesses?
DS: I would say my strengths are being able to bounce back from having issues mental or physical, and being able to motivate others along the trail and working as a team to get to the finish line. Using strategy is one of my strengths as well. My weaknesses are sometimes the mental demons sneek inside your head and make it tough but that's when I work harder to overcome it.

SJ: Coming from the East Coast sniper, what do you think are going to be your biggest challenges in California?
DS: I have never been above 6600 feet of elevation, but I don't think that is going to be an issue. The biggest thing for me is that I have never been on the the trail before. I have run so many races and know the courses well and help others and this course is alien to me.

SJ: You've also completed The Vermont 100 and The Old Dominion 100; two races that do (or have) comprised part of the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning; how do you suspect your experiences at these races to compare to Western States?
DS: To me, those are more road races since there is a lot of the course that is gravel roads. I prefer trails and do better on predominant trail courses.

SJ: Will you be bringing a crew and/or pacer to WS? If yes, who?
DS: Yes to both. John Straub from Seattle, WAwill be my pacer, he and I
have run many races together and work well as a team. Neil Hiltz and his girlfriend will be my crew, this will be their first ultra experience so I'm hoping they will have a lot of fun.

SJ: What are your goals for the race? Do you have a time goal in mind?
DS: My goal is to finish. I would like to finish under 24 hours like everyone else, but also at the end of the race it's social hour. So I would like to finish the race and be able to sit around and talk with everyone else and cheer on the runners as they come in. The main goal is to treat it like any other 100 miler and not get caught up in the "hoopla" of the race.

SJ: What is it that has inspired you to run as many races as you have all these years?
DS: I like to push myself, it took me a couple of years to be able to run back to back weekend races and sometimes 2 races in one weekend. I really like the atmosphere of ultras and the people are really cool. I have almost completed 200 ultras and I have so many fond memories and stories from each one. I have met so many people while running an ultra. I still remember when you and I met at Massanutten in 2008. Good times.

SJ: What races would you like to run in the future?
DS: Badwater is on the radar, as are Hardrock and someday I would like to run the Last Great Race.

SJ: As someone who has been in the sport for 7 years, is the growth trend in the sport as big as people make it sound? How does the growth make you feel?
DS: I Think there has definitely been a spike in growth recently, but I have also noticed that more and more runners are going from a 50K to a 100 miler in a matter of a couple of races. I ran about 20 ultras before I ran my first 100 miler. Alot of these runners tend to be under prepared either mentally or physically and have trouble. That's when I usually help them out and get them to an aid station.

SJ: Sniper, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Good luck to you at Western States. I want to let folks know that they can follow your progress online at: and your bib # is 412. Good luck!
DS: Thanks for talking with me. Good luck to you also. I look forward to towing the starting line with you and working our way to the finish line.