Vajin Armstrong Pre White River 50 Interview (and Saucony shoe give-away!)

Vajin Armstrong is at it again! After backing up his American River 50mile win in April with a soild 5th in the fastest Routeburn Classic ever and a very impressive 2nd place at TNF100 Australia in May, Vajin is heading back to the US for another 50mile race this month. Best of all Saucony and BCR have teamed up again and you have the chance to win a pair of  Peregrine2′s. Read on…..

Vajin on his way to 2nd place at 2012 TNF100 Australia

Backcountry Runner- Vajin last time we caught up was in a video interview the day after your 2nd place finish behind Ryan Sands at TNF100 in Australia. What has been happening since then? How was your recovery?Vajin Armstrong- Recovery went really well, I basically had one week off after TNF and then had another week of just jogging. After that I was really keen and excited to get back into some serious training. I had a lot of racing starting in March and going through to TNF in May, so I was looking forward to the opportunity to get in a good block of uninterrupted training.

BCR- The next big race for you is just a few weeks away now, White River 50mile in Washington State on July 28th- how has the build up been and how does your build up for this race compare to other big goal races during the year?

VA- This has been one of my best blocks of training both in terms of volume and intensity. I have just slightly stepped things up and I am feeling in probably my best shape ever. I have been using this block to really build a massive base for later in the year, so I have been doing big mileage and trying to get in plenty of vertical. I have been doing some really good long reps and long tempos as well so I am feeling aerobically really strong. I will save the real speed work until I am building up for Kepler.

BCR- While most kiwis would know you best as the 2x winner and defending Kepler Challenge champ, your biggest win would easily be American River back in April. I am sure that blind sided the N.American ultra running community, I guess they will be well aware of you on the start line at White River. Is this good pressure or bad pressure?
VA- I will take it as an opportunity, racing overseas is always exciting and fun as you are racing a completely different crowd.

BCR- American River and White River- I would like to think the reason behind choosing these 2 races in the US is deeper than you liking the word “River”- why have you decided to pick these races?
VA- I chose these races as they fit in well with my calendar  and they are both races that have good histories and that a lot of top guys have run. If you look at the guys who have placed well at White River over the last few years you’ve got
people like Tony Krupricka, Tim Olsen, Dakota Jones, Scott Jurek and the one and only Uli Steidl. When I was starting out in Ultras four or so years ago, Uli was the man to beat over 50miles in the US. He represented Germany in the Marathon so he was plenty fast and he put up some good times at White River and at TNF Championship in San Francisco. I like to have the chance to test myself against the best so racing courses like these are a good chance to do that.

BCR- What do you know about the White River course and your competition?
VA- The course at White River looks extremely beautiful with some amazing views out over Mt Rainier. It looks like it has a bit of everything, including two big climbs making for over 2600m of climbing. Scott McCoubrey, the race director says about the course “The race features rolling terrain, ridge tops, northwest forest, several sections of technical trails, and of course several demanding climbs and challenging descents.”
As far as the competition goes I have heard that Ellie Greenwood (owner of the new women’s course record at Western States) is racing as well as Sage Canady, recent winner of the US Mountain running Champs at Mt Washington.

BCR- Do you have any expectations/goals going into the race?
VA- My goal is first and foremost to go sub 7hours, but I would love to go 6.40ish. Tony Krupricka has run couple of smoking fast times there, I think he ran a 6.25 just after his 2nd placing at Western States, and Uli Steidl also ran a mid 6.30′s time. Apart from those two guys there are not too many people who have gone sub 7hours. I think last year Tim Olsen just sneaked in with a 6.59 and we have seen how that has worked out for him.

BCR- You recently placed 5th over all in the 10km South Island cross country champs. That is a pretty good result for someone that is clocking 200+km a week and whose goal race is 8x longer. Is it a reflection of the speed work you put in during the week, or the state of cross country running in the SI?
VA- Maybe a bit of both, but I do feel I am in pretty good shape right now. I closed out that race super strong, despite feeling that the pace was a bit on the quick side for the first half. Going through 5km’s I was probably in 11th or 12th so I definitely closed it out well, which is what I would want to see going into an ultra. For an ultra I don’t need to be running blazingly fast, but I do want to feel strong and feel like a can close well. I will definitely be doing a bit more speed work heading into Kepler, but for the races I have coming up right now I am really happy with how I am feeling.

BCR- How has the recent move from the University Club to Sumner Running Club been?
VA- Great, it’s nice to be part of a club with such a trail running heritage. I think I am the 5th Sumner runner to have won the Kepler Challenge. The club record for the 100km is 6.38 and then you have got a 3x Kepler winner and 6.46 100km guy as the Club Captain, so it seems like a pretty good fit for me.

BCR- We are drifting “off topic” a little now- Kepler entries opened on Saturday morning. A few fast lads from Aussie have entered by the sounds of it, what are your thoughts on this year’s race?
VA- I am hoping it is going to be an “Absolute Epic” with at least three guys under 5hours and then a whole lot more under 5.30. I am looking forward to it like anything, we have got eight runners from the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team entered so it’s going to be great to have a whole lot of friends racing as well.

BCR- Post White River you are spending a bit of time in the US?
VA- I am heading over with a couple of friends from Auckland so post race we have big plans which basically involve a lot of camping and trail running. We are hoping to run as much of the Wonderland trail as we can (super sweet trail around Mt Rainer) and then pretty much try and get on as much other nice Pacific North West trails as we can handle. I am then heading over to NYC to meet up with my wife, Prasasta and her family before running another ultra, this time a 47mile race at the end of August. But that is a story for another day…….

BCR- Thanks for your time Vajin and all the best at White River!

VA- No worries at all. I also just want to say a big thanks to my Sponsor’s Saucony and UltrAspire, two of the most forward thinking and progressive brands one could hope to involved with.

Saucony Give Away!!

Peregrine women's PurpleBlue.jpg

Peregrine Men's GreyRed.jpgVajin’s shoe sponsor Saucony is happy to offer a pair of the Peregrine 2 (the shoe that Vajin wore to his 2nd Kepler Victory last year)  (men’s or woman’s) for the person that correctly guesses Vajin’s time at the White River 50mile! Add your predicted time in the comments section below- closest time wins. Also add a placing as we will use that as a tie breaker in case more than one person guesses the correct time.

Note- 1) Competition closes 10pm NZ time, 28th July, comments posted after this will not count, 2) ONE guess per person, 3)  we will post the Peregrine within NZ only.


About BCR

has written 314 .

31 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. 6h 36 1st place. go well.

  2. 6hr: 32min 1st place. Go hard Vajin, we are watching.

  3. 6hr 42min 2nd place….best of luck Vajin, see you at the Kepler 2012.
    Grant hold the Sauconys there for me, thanks mate

  4. 6hr 30min 1st place. You are going to have a blinder Vajin

  5. 6.39 1st place of course :)

  6. 6hr 45min and first overall!

    Good luck!

  7. 6:37 1st

  8. 6h 35m and 1st. Good luck.

  9. 6h 41 for 1st place. Good luck Vajin

  10. 6h48min for second. Good luck Vajin

  11. 6h 59mins 1st!

  12. 6h 38min 2nd place, enjoy.

  13. 6h 34min. 1st.

  14. 2nd in 6:53
    Sage Canaday for the win. (OK, he has the potential. A lot can happen in 50 miles…)
    To compare, I ran 5:58 at AR 50, Vajin ran 5:53
    My best time at WR 50 is 6:32:xx
    But I had a crappy race at AR 50. Didn’t do any long runs before and threw up after 28 miles, could keep nothing down and the last 15 miles felt like a death march, just hanging on. Almost walked the last 3 miles uphill.
    Definitely ran a stronger race last year at WR 50 when I ran 6:49 than the AR 50 5:58…..

    • hey Uli
      thanks for stopping by and posting with some excellent insight! Will you be racing WR50 this weekend?

    • Uli! You nailed it with time and place- do you have a NZ address we can send the shoes to?

  15. 6.45, 2nd place. Make sure you run this time.

  16. 6 hours 37 mins First Place

  17. 6.43 2nd place.

  18. 6:57:22

  19. 6.40 1st place GO VAJIN

  20. 6:39, 3rd place

  21. 6:38 1st place :) :):)

  22. 6:50:30, 2nd place!

  23. 6:42:37. Good luck!

  24. 6:48, 1st, Go hard!

  25. 6:46:30 for 1st.

  26. Going with Uli, people should have a read about what he can do. 6:54, but 1st.

  27. 6.48 1st.

    Go Vajin!!!

  28. 6:39 in 1st place

Submit your comment

Please enter your name

Your name is required

Please enter a valid email address

An email address is required

Please enter your message


A Backcountry Running Community for New Zealand trail, mountain and ultra runners- We want this to be the place you come for all things trail running including race previews and reports, interviews with New Zealand runners and hopefully a whole lot more! Our aim is to provide as much original content- previews/reports/interviews on New Zealand trail, mountain and ultra races. We can't be everywhere- so feel free to get in touch if you have the scoop on a race or event.

Backcountry Runner © 2019 All Rights Reserved

Copyright Back Country Runner.

Design by Paul Petch