UM: Thanks for talking with us Sam. Can you tell us a bit about how you got your start in running?
Sam: I ran my first 5k in 1999. I competed in my first sprint tri the following year. I've never been the
competitive type but, I do have one person that I'm always out there to beat, myself. I love going back
to races that I've already done just to see if I can beat my old time. As long as I do better, I'm happy.
Each year I would go up in distance in both running and triathlons. After completing a handful of
Ironman triathlons, I geared up for the Double Ironman in Virginia. My friends and family started
worrying, wondering when it would stop. I can clearly remember being afraid of finishing the Double
because I knew I would sign up for the Triple the following year (and I did).
UM: What do you experience during these ultra endurance events that keeps you coming back and
pushing the boundaries?
Sam: The number one question I get asked is, “Why?” My reply is simple: “Why not?”As with most
people, after I finished my first Ironman I said, “Never again.” Of course that goes away the next
morning. The same thing after I finished my first 100 miler. That took me about a week before I
realized I wanted to do another. The funny thing is, I don't get that feeling anymore. After crossing a
finish line I immediately think, that was great...what's next? Personally I feel that it's the people that
you meet at ultras that keep you coming back. You meet some of the best people out there. You may
not always talk to them everyday but, they're always in the back of your mind. I've never been an
overall competitor. I've always been happy with being a “finisher.” Although I don't have a great track
record for finishing 100s (1 for 3), I really think I'm capable of doing more. Easter weekend is the
Philly 100 and I've set up a race plan that I hope I can stick to. I have a game plan and I'm very excited
to try it.
UM: How do you manage, with work and family obligations, to fit in the multi sport training?
Sam: People always ask how I have the time to train. Running isn't nearly as bad as triathlons. Training
for the Triple was insane, and I really gave it everything I had. A lot of times I would come home from
work, have dinner with the family and see the kids to bed. Around 8:30pm I would leave the house and
head to the gym where I would work out through the night. Then, I'd arrive back home just in time to
make the kids breakfast and then head off to work. This really wore me down and became very stressful. My wife was great and very, very supportive but, we had our moments.
UM: Is there a finish line for you? A major goal that you are striving towards?
Sam: I'd eventually like to compete in the Deca Ironman in Mexico. (10x Ironman in 14 days, non-
stop). For now, my next goal is to qualify for Badwater. I'm slowing building my race resume, and
after meeting Charlie Engle at the Beast of Burden, he asked if I would like to crew for his girlfriend
this year. Norma is an amazing athlete and I look forward to learning from Charlie!
UM: What was organizing (and then running!) Beast of Burden like for you?
Sam: The idea for The Beast of Burden came while training for the Moab 100. I do most of my
training on the Erie Canal Towpath. It's a great place to run, especially when it's not covered in snow!
I tried putting this race together during the summer a year ago and it just never seemed to pan out.
Roger Niethe and I became great friends through ultra running and after getting to know him, we
started doing our long runs together. He kept saying how we needed a race here in Lockport. I told
him about my idea for a race and he encouraged me to do it. Finally, one night I started working on a
website and I never stopped until the following morning. I called Roger daily for advice and for his
input. He was always there to help out and really kept me excited. Honestly, I never knew how much
work it would be, if I had, I never would've done it.
I received a lot of emails after the race, from racers, race volunteers and
even some spectators. A few volunteers even said that they feel the urge to sign up for their first ultra
now. For me, that's an amazing feeling. I actually introduced some people into the sport that I love so
much. That's SWEET!
UM: Finally, what does the rest of 2010 have in store for Sam?
Sam: Currently I am working on my summer race plans. I hope to launch the Summer Beast of Burden
within the next week or two. We'll have one of (if not THE) flattest 100 mile course in the world that's
not on a track. Here are some of the races that I have scheduled for 2010 : The Philadelphia 100 Mile,
BPAC (2 weeks after Philly, I'll be lucky to walk!), Badwater (only crewing but, I'll be pacing a lot),
Ironman Lake Placid, The Viaduct 100 Mile, The Summer Beast of Burden, and Oil Creek 100 Mile.
Interview by Shelley Viggiano