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Antelope Children with Zack Beavin

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This week’s guest is Zack Beavin, a marathoner and blossoming ultra runner from Lexington, Kentucky who set the U.S. #4 all-time mark at 50 miles at the Tunnel Hill 50 miler in Illinois. He ran 5:03:06 to shatter the course record and run the fastest off-road 50 miler on North American soil.

Zack is an accomplished runner at all distances having run 2:18 in the marathon and competed at the 2020 Olympic Trials. He also ran collegiately for the University of Kentucky. He came on the podcast with co-host and crew member Sam Day to talk about his race, how he found ultras and much more.

He also happens to be dating me, so we talked a bit about that toward the end of the episode as well.

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zack beavin 50 miler win

HIGHLIGHTS

On the toughest part of the Tunnel Hill 50:

“Fun fact: Things get a lot harder after 30ish miles. I was insanely confident at 30, but once I was going up the hill [at mile 33] I started going about 20 seconds a mile slower. I had 4 more miles uphill to the next aid station and all I had was the little water bottle with 1 gel with me and I was like, ‘this is scary.’ At the aid station at 37, I was losing vision… but it got better from there.” 

On being drawn to long distances:

“Coming out of college, I was just so excited to have the yoke of college training thrown off. I felt like a free man. That summer, my family was out in Eugene to watch the Trials and we took a trip to Crater Lake and I realized it was 31 miles around and I just decided to run it. I did it, and I super-duper hurt myself doing it… but I had such a fun time doing it and it was honestly like a borderline spiritual experience, being out there for 3 hours, I was like, ‘Yeah, this is awesome. This is what I want to do.’”

On moving permanently to ultras – or not:

“Even if I do continue full-on into the ultra stuff, part of my training cycle for this was training the least specific physiology for the event first, which for me was VO2 Max stuff [….] I think that just kick-started my confidence leading into the 50-mile training – if I was almost in mile PR shape and just rolled into 50-mile shape, it made 5:40s and 6:00 pace feel like a walk. So I don’t anticipate leaving that stuff behind any time soon, especially while I’m still young enough to have it.”

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