Since the late 1990’s, Scott Creel has dominated the Ridge Run like no one else. He completed 10 Ridge Runs and has won every one he has entered, 10 for 10. He holds the course record of 3:06 set in 2007. Last year, 2011, at the ripe age of 49 he won his most recent.
In the 4 years Scott has chosen not to compete, the race has been wide open yielding 4 different winners. This further underlines his consistency and dominance.
Scott has graciously taken time from his busy schedule and given this short interview on his history with the Ridge Run. Enjoy.
What was the first year you did the Ridge Run?
What led to your decision to do it that first time?
After spending 10 years doing research in East Africa, I had recently (1996) moved to Bozeman. I was out of shape after a decade in Africa doing very little running. Once in Bozeman, I longed to get back into running and racing. So began training.
I did have some previous running experience and success. In college, I ran track and cross country. As a graduate student I was sponsored with a shoe contract.
The Bridger Range dominates the Bozeman landscape. It is natural to gaze up there and think about running along the Ridge. The Ridge Run is an obvious goal for runners in Bozeman. I was no exception. Shortly after moving here, I made it my goal to do it.
What do you remember from that first year?
Not much. It was going to be my longest competitive run up until that point. Prior to that, my longest race was probably 10,000 meters. I went into that first Ridge Run cautious. There were certain sections of the course that I had never seen. So I was curious as to what I would encounter.
After dominating the Ridge Run for the last couple decades, do you still have any unfulfilled goals or things you want to accomplish with the Ridge Run?
No. No unfulfilled goals – that are realistic.
At one time I thought 3 hours was possible. And it was. But that requires a perfect day. Everything has to go right. Stopping to tie a shoe or even if your shoe becomes loose it slows you down on the downhills, the goal slips away. The margins are that close at that speed.
Is there any advice you would like to share with the next generation of young runners that have shown speed and talent on the Ridge – such as Mike Wolfe, Mike Foote, Zack Miller or Akeo?
No. They don’t need my advice or tips. I think it would be presumptuous on my part to tell them what to do. Everyone is different and has different strengths and weaknesses. I do not know what theirs are.
To generalize some advice, just get faster. Getting faster translates to improvement in all races regardless of distance or terrain. People like Mike Wolfe have already done that.
Do you have any advice for those preparing for the Ridge Run, who are not at the elite level?
Obviously you have to be able to do long runs so you can hang in there for the duration of the Race. The Ridge Run is a rugged mountain course that requires specialized preparation. You need to be able to handle the steep ups, the steep downs and the irregular footing. So practice ups, downs and rough terrain.
Do any particular years stand out for you?
No. They all blend together. I do not have a good memory for that. I’m a forward looking person. My mind is engaged in what is next.
Do you carry a water bottle or totally rely on the aid stations?
I’ve done the race both ways. About half the years, I have carried a water bottle and half I have not. It did not seem to have much impact either way on my race performance.
Is there any special fueling or sports drinks that you like or that have worked well for you?
I’ve never gotten that figured out. On other longer races, (over 5 hours), I’ve had problems with electrolyte imbalance, vomiting and muscle spasms. The Ridge Run is short enough, where I have not had problems and have not had to do anything special.
For people that take 5 hours or longer on the Ridge Run, they need to figure what works for them. What works varies from person to person. Personally, I do not like Gels, but they may work for others.
What shoes have worked for you or do you recommend?
I like shoes that are light and low – ones without much midsole thickness. That way, if my ankle starts to roll I can catch it.
There are a lot of good shoes available now, but it is easy to overdo it on getting to minimal. Some of these super minimal shoes are going to be harsh and you will end up rattling your teeth – especially on the downhills. I do not think there is anyone fast enough to run the entire Ridge Run course fore foot striking in minimal shoes. You just have to resort to heel striking running the steep downhills. So you need a shoe that has at least some cushioning and protection.
6 to 7 years ago, about the only available light and low trail shoe was the one by Inov8. Now, nearly every shoe manufacturer offers a good trail shoe. Presently, I like the Adidas Leap. It is similar to the Nike Free. I also used and like the road version of the Saucony Kinvara.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
No. Nothing I can think of.