Altra/Ultraspire Athlete Sam McCutcheon is fast, there is no denying that! A wild card that started Skyrunning only in January this year when he entered (off a whim) and won the Ultra Easy 100km Skyrace. Sam then raised some serious eyebrows when he ran away with the win at the Skyrunning ANZ Championships (Buffalo Stampede) wearing a pair of road shoes and a borrowed pack! As a result of this awesome effort Sam earned himself a ticket to the Skyrunning World Champs. Have a read below to see what makes this rising star tick.
Skyrunning ANZ: What (special thing) have you done over the last few months to get ready for the world champs.
Sam: Probably getting some ultra gear. Since Buffalo Altra and UltrAspire have come on board with shoes and a pack respectively; it’s been great to some high quality gear to train in.
In terms of physical training, the two things I have changed in the build-up have been to increase the amount of hill walking (trying to get at least a solid one a week) and make my gym sessions more running focused (had to tone down the gun show). These are both still a work in progress but hoping they will pay off before Buff Epic.
Skyrunning ANZ: Representing the country, what does it mean to you?
Sam: It means a lot. I have always wanted to represent NZ at sport, and always wanted to beat Australia the old man is a big rugby fan). I suppose being on the same team has sort of changed that last part a bit.
Skyrunning ANZ: If you could give one tip a new runner looking to one day be standing in your shoes what would it be.
Sam: Take opportunities. Kind of like that corny Jim Carey movie ‘Yes man’ if you take the opportunities that present themselves it can work out really well; whereas if you don’t then you won’t know. A lot of this has come from me committing to the Ultra-Easy at the start of this year, when I was pretty nervous about the whole thing.
Skyrunning ANZ: When times get tough in training and racing what is your “secret” to keep pushing or go faster.
Sam: For me the motivations are quite different in training and racing.
In training the most motivating factor is all the support I have been given. From friends and family to colleagues and people who have just heard about me participating at World Champs, the support has been overwhelming. A lot of people have participated in fundraisers events and others have just came up to me and had a yarn about the race/training and wish me luck. I want to be in a position to do my best for myself, but also so I say thanks to all those who have helped me. So it’s really the support from others that keeps me going through training.
In racing it is quite different. Often all I think about during a race is finishing it. The motivation comes from the fact that the finish line is fixed (not getting any closer) and I just need to get there as quick as possible. at the finish I get to stop. Another factor is the people around me who I obviously wouldn’t mind beating.
Skyrunning ANZ: If you could run any trail or race in the world which would it be and why?
Sam: Being relatively new to the scene I was into really aware of all the different races there are. In saying that, trail runners seem to love talking about different races and how challenging they are; so I have heard about a few different ones over the last 6 months.
In New Zealand, I would like to do the Tawarewa Ultra – Having done the Kepler it is the other NZ race that has a bit of international prestige. In the world it is pretty hard. I have heard epic things about UTMB and it looks like that would be an amazing race to complete; but in saying that I am also pretty pumped to be running the Buff Epic which also looks like it will be incredibly beautiful. Ask me again in 6 months and will probably have changed.
Sam’s training in preparation.
Monday Recovery 45min
Tuesday 2.00 hills off road (steady)
Wednesday Hill reps – 8 x 3’00 at a steady gradient
Thursday 2’00 jog with running club – Mainly on-road
Friday Recovery 30mins
Saturday Tempo – 3 x 20mins (first two solid pace, last one: 4 x(4mins steady, 1min quick))
Sunday Long run – Ideally mostly off-road
Also Normally I get up to 3 gym sessions, one of which is focused on stretching