Pre-Race thoughts for The North Face 50-mile Endurance Challenge

December 4, 2013 | By | 11 Replies More

I wrote it in my book “Running For The Hansons,” and I’ll say it again: Distance running is a fickle sport.

In my 15 years of competitive racing and training year-round I’ve had some pretty bad races; epic blow-ups and even entire seasons of horrible running.  I’ve overtrained, over-raced, undertrained and underperformed. I’ve had the mono, the food poisoning, the tendonitis and induced stitches from puncture wounds:


But I’ve also had enough positive races and breakthrough performances to continue on in the sport  – I’ve made it my life long goal to strive to be involved in the sport for as long as possible whether I’m working in the industry or running just for fun. It’s my goal in running to be one of those amazing people still running past age 70…those individuals are really inspiring!

When I look back on my years of racing and  of some of my best performances I remember the following:


  • Winning the Ivy League Conference title at 10km on the track in a tactical,  negative split  29:58 against guys who had 5km PR’s 30 seconds faster than mine.



  • Qualifying for my first Olympic Trials Marathon the summer after my junior year in college with 17 seconds to spare in the 75-degree heat and humidity of Grandma’s Marathon. I puked on the finish line and was taken away to the medical tent in a wheelchair….it was one of the happiest moments of my life:



Interesting enough these two performances came when I was training and racing shorter distances and then “moved up.” For example, when I ran my first marathon trials qualifying time at Grandma’s Marathon at age 21, I had just come off a whole season of track racing from the 3km to the 10km. I only had 5 weeks to add some long runs and long tempo efforts…


Now that I’ve moved into ultras, I remember my best 50-miler as being my first 50 (White River) and that I had a similar training effect of “moving up” from racing three half marathons that summer along with the 7.6 mile Mt. Washington hill climb (US mountain Running Champs that year).


So intensity and speed has lead to some initial sucesss. I think it’s all about moderation, variety, progression – and –(ultimately) just having fun.


Those are the kinds of moments that I train for…to set a goal, face adversity and then suceeed. It usually doesn’t work out that well as I’ve also learned many a tough lessons along the way (remember: Distance Running is a fickle sport!)


i.e. Marathoning at Hansons….

  •  I ran my first marathon as a “pro” at Boston in 2010. I was sure that 7 weeks in a row of averaging 130 miles a week (full of 20 mile long runs in 1hr 52min) would allow me to shatter my 2:21 marathon PR (which I set 3 years prior). I ended up bonking horribly  and was jogging down heartbreak hill (at mile 21) slower than I ran up the hill. I learned about what my limits were when it came to overtraining.

And Lessons learned in ultras:

  •   UROC 100km: I pretty much bonked the entire last 25 miles and did a combination of walking/jogging until after the final climb out of Minturn when I decieded that walking was too hard….then I decided standing was too hard….so I sat down in the trail and closed my eyes. Never have I been reduced to such a vulnerable positioin in a race…never have I wondered so much about how I would make it to the finish line.


I could go on, but now it’s time to talk about my next race, The North Face 50-mile Endurance Challenge (Championships).

Most of my thoughts (and more recent training) are covered in this video:


In closing, this may be the most competitive ultra line-up the US has ever seen – and it should be! With $10,000 on the line for the win this type of structure is very representative of what I see as a new movement in Mountain-Ultra-Trail running:


  •  Runners with more non-trail-traditional, speedy backgrounds moving up in race distance and shattering course records left and right.


  • . A healthy amount of prize money and corporate sponsorship support enticing these types of runners to try different races and progress in the sport.


  •  This new breed of “MUT runners” making a living from the sport and competing  more on the international scene.


Of course, all these topics (along with tons of informative content and interviews on training from top runners and ambassadors of the sport) will be covered in my film project, “MUT Runner,” which I have been quite busy working on (another dream come true!).

Here’s the trailer:


Finally, I’d like to thank my family and my girlfriend Sandi for their top-notch support of my running obsessions. Without their support I wouldn’t be here.

I’d also like to thank YOU! It’s been a great year of running – and all the social media comments and video/blog views that have inspired me to continue on with this journey. Thank you for all the kind words, feedback and for also helping add to this wonderful sport.


Wishing you the best this holiday season,



PS of course I also have to give a shout out to my ultra-supportive sponsors:


SCOTT Sports (kicks)

Flora Health (Omega-3 oils, teas, veggies, and super health foods)

Integrative Healing Acupuncture and Wellness (massage, stem, acupuncture, NormaTec Recovery)

Avery Brewing (post-run adult beverages)

Ultimate Direction (hydration and packs)

Ugo Bars (delicious recovery/energy bars and snacks)

Drymax (socks)

VFuel (gels for racing and long runs)

Smith Optics (shades)


Thanks for the support!!



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About the Author ()

2-time Olympic Trials Qualifier, Mountain runner, Author of "Running For The Hansons," trail runner, videos for Vo2max Productioins, LLC.

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  1. Daily News, Wed, Dec 4 | December 4, 2013
  1. Tom says:

    All the best at North Face 50. Thanks for wearing your RWB shirt.
    Talk or write about Camp Eagle sometime.

  2. Heather D says:

    Hope you have a great race this weekend! We’ll be following the coverage on irunfar.

  3. SageCanaday says:

    hey thanks for the support Tom!

  4. Julia says:

    Great post Sage! I love the honesty of this – given that you one of the strongest runners out there, it’s humbling to see that you also don’t always get it right. But more to the point, I can completely relate to your overall goal of wanting to still run when you’re 70. I was thinking about my running and racing plans for next year (I’m a mere mortal recreational runner), but it occurred to me that my main goal is always to keep the passion alive! You’ve had a fantastic year, I hope you’ll be able to keep running and keep learning for a long time yet.

  5. Matt Robinson says:


    Thanks for supporting Team RWB! On Christmas Eve, I’ll be running for 12 hours straight around my Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan to spread Christmas cheer. I’ll be sporting my Kinabalus the whole way.

    Good luck at TNF 50!


  6. Cameron Dauler says:

    Hi Sage,
    Not sure if you remember but this is Cam Dauler and you kicked my ass in a road race (I think it was Canby maybe Forest Grove I’m like over forty and super forgetful) here in Oregon after your first year at Cornell. I graduated from Cornell and ran for Lou Deusing, at least until my fraternity interests took precedence (thanks A.D. Phi). You noticed I was wearing my Big Red Singlet and I spoke with you after the race. You were considering bailing on the engineering program but am happy to see you perservered and wrote an outstanding book. I am still reading it but really enjoy it and will promote it at every opportunity. Still trying to run three kids later but can still manage 6:30 training runs if you need a slow day when you are back in town.

  7. SageCanaday says:

    Hey Cam,
    Great to hear from a fellow Big Red alum again1 Of course I remember you…it was the McMinnville, OR Turkey Trot in the summer (8km). Thanks for the support and glad to hear you like the book!

  8. SageCanaday says:

    Hey Julia,
    Thanks so much for the support! I’ve learned a lot this year and one thing is to never take health (or running) for granted. Long may you run!

  9. SageCanaday says:

    Hey Matt,
    It’s an honor to help support Team RWB. Great to hear you’ll be running on Christmas Eve…that is really cool.
    Thanks for your service and keep up the great work!

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