Athlete Profile: Joe Pope

2017-02-13T12:04:11+00:00 February 13th, 2017|HRL Athletes|

Tell us a little about yourself…

I have always considered myself a runner for as long as I can remember. I ran cross country and track during High School and College. After college, when I was in my mid-to-late 20s I dabbled in the marathon and ran a few trail 50ks and a trail 50 miler. During my 30s I predominantly focused on the marathon, but found that the grind of marathon training wasn’t very enjoyable.  In my late 30s, I decided to re-focus my running goals back towards trail running, and specifically ultramarathons. I grew up in Auburn, California, which is the finish line for the iconic Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Growing up around that environment and having a Dad that ran and finished the WS100 five times, it was only natural that my path as a runner would lead me back to the trails.

How long have you been running?

I have been running since I was in elementary school, whether it was on the soccer pitch, on the track, or at a local road race.

Please list your favorite races and PR’s

Favorite races:

HURT 100 (2x finisher 2016, 2017)

Ray Miller 50 mi (2016)

Way Too Cool 50k (1999)

Marine Corps Marathon (2006, 2007, 2009)

Boston Marathon (2008)

Prague Marathon (2001)


PRs (not including Collegiate PRs, because they are irrelevant to a 42 year old ultra runner!):

Road Marathon 3:00 (Marine Corps Marathon 2006)

50km Trail 4:40 (Bulldog 50km 2016)

50mi Trail 9:04 (American River 50 1999)

100km Trail 13:12 (Ultra Race of Champions 2016)

100mi Trail 29:05 (HURT 100 2016)

What are your 2017 Racing plans and running goals?

HURT 100 (completed – 31:28) – Jan 2017

Leona Divide 50 Miler (sub 9 hour goal) – Apr 2017

Angeles Crest 100 – Aug 2017

Any “bucket list” races?

Grand Slam of Ultrarunning:

Western States 100

Leadville 100

Wasatch 100

Vermont 100


Hardrock 100

Cascade Crest 100

San Diego 100

Santa Barbara 100

Chimera 100

Javelina 100

Backbone Trail 68 miler

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc

What is your average weekly mileage?

50 to 75 miles per week.

What is your favorite workout?

Running:  Mile repeats and hill repeats.

Non-Running: Any Tabata-style strength workout.

Favorite pre-race/post-race foods

Pre-race favorites: I like to eat a big lunch and a light dinner prior to a big race. I do not have one go-to pre-race food and I usually eat whatever sounds good to me on that day. It may be a carne asada burrito one day and a steak salad on another – just depends on my mood and what’s available.

Post-race favorites:  A large bacon-cheeseburger and an IPA.

What is the piece of running gear/food/drink that you cannot go without?

Gear:  Garmin 910xt (I’m a data geek!)

Drinks:  Tailwind, Skratch, Ginger Ale, Coke, and Water

Food:  I prefer to eat a wide variety of gel and chew brands during training and racing. However, when it comes to late night snacking during 100 milers my “must haves” are miso soup, potato soup, boiled potatoes, and bacon.

What is your favorite running moment or running quote?

My favorite running moment happened to also be one of my lowest and darkest moments during any race I have ever run. During the 2017 HURT 100 I was at mile 67 (Paradise Park Aid) and I was very down on myself. The urge to drop out was very strong – in fact it was the closest I have ever coming to quitting an ultra.  One of the Aid Station Captains, my friend Jen McVeay said to me (paraphrasing): “You may feel bad right this minute, but you know if you eat something you will feel better 15 minutes from now. There is no way you are dropping out! You ran into this aid station and you are going to run out of it! Now get going.” Being surrounded by people that believe in you when you’ve stopped believing in yourself is quite humbling. You learn so much about yourself when you push yourself beyond what your mind thinks it can’t do.

Describe your running before HRL and after

Ever since my post-collegiate running days, I have mostly been self-coached.  I am a prolific reader of running-related books, so I would usually just follow some plan from a book. What the training plans in the books mostly lacked was flexibility that my life as a dad, husband and full-time professional requires. Having HRL on my side gives me the customization that I need to fit ambitious ultra-running goals into my hectic life.

Why does training with Hawaii Running Lab work for you?

It works for me because Michael Garrison is someone that I trust personally and professionally. His years of experience as both a coach and an endurance athlete make HRL the perfect fit for me. The customization that HRL provides me with their training plans gives me a higher degree of confidence that I was lacking when coaching myself.

Do you have an Instagram/twitter handle that you would like us to include with your profile?

Twitter and Instagram: @JoeRunsFar

Photo credit: Augusto Decastro