Here at St Croix 40 Winter Ultra, we want to help you be successful in your entry to winter ultra racing. As a part of this, we want to share with you tips and tricks from people who have been there, in the big races, and have sometimes learned the hard way what works and what doesn’t.
For our first entry we have an interview with Scott Sugimoto, a wonderful Canadian who is probably the sweetest guy you’ll ever meet. We’ve gotten to know Scott over the past year, and he’s graciously agreed to share some of his knowledge. There’s a good chance Scott will be making an appearance at St Croix 40, so feel free to think up more questions to ask him when you get here!
Thank you Scott for taking the time to chat with us.
Which winter ultras have you done? How long have you been doing them?
I consider myself a newbie to winter ultras. I have entered Actif Epica 125 km in 2017 & 18. Finished in 2017 / DNF 2018. Tuscobia 160 in 2017 DNF mile 80. Arrowhead 135 2018 finish.
What’s your favorite piece of gear that hasn’t been on the gear lists at the races you’ve done?
My Patagonia R2 Jacket & R3 Hoody. R2 Jacket with light base layer while on the move is good to -25(ish) C. I have trained in temps approaching -40 C wearing a light base, mid weight wool and R3 Hoody. As long as it isn’t windy wearing the fleece allows perspiration to escape to the outside of the fleece. It may freeze but as long as you knock it off before entering an aid station the tops remains functional.
How many layers do you typically wear or bring along? How do you manage those layers and sweating?
Two to three layers. I bring enough to change the base and second layer at every aid station. So for both Tuscobia and Arrowhead, three times. I got ahead of myself in the previous question. Unless it is windy or VERY cold I do not wear a hard shell. In my opinion, layering with a light base Helly Hansen Dry (their lightest) mid weight wool and Patagonia R3, I am good to -40 (unless it is windy) when on the move. If stopped, I would throw on my insulated jacket, the Rab Xeno Jacket.
Do you have a favorite brand for gear?
I have purchased a lot of Patagonia clothing, and been very happy. Now part of this is for budget reasons as right on the Patagonia.ca site there is a section that lists previous years models colors etc. I have saved up to 50% buying from there.
Do you have a specific foot care regimen for preventing things like frostbite, blisters, or trench foot?
For both Tuscobia and Arrowhead, my shoes are a full size up. For the start I cover my feet with Zincofax (diaper rash cream) and add 2Toms Foot powder in my liner sox. In every pair of liner sox I will put in the powder. I wear a lighter wool sox and then a heavier pair on top. My feet were a non-issue at both Tuscobia & Arrowhead. My footwear is a full size up, 3/4 cut, and waterproof. With that said, that is just me. I recognize the argument for non-waterproof, but I find the waterproof shoes to be warmer and feel that I have a good moisture management system in play. I am going to experiment with vapor barrier sox in training this year before Tuscobia.
And finally, what do you do to persevere through difficult obstacles that may arise (like a stuck car at the start line!) and still be successful? How do you put it behind you and just keep moving?
I have been very fortunate to have meet and gotten to know many successful ultra runners. One person in particular, has moved from mentor and is now someone I consider a very close friend. She has stressed for years and continues to stress “It’s all Mental”. I know it sounds over simplified, but quitting doesn’t come into the conversation. As well, I think setting realistic expectations is critical to success. After my DNF at Tuscobia, I believe I reset my mindset for Arrowhead. If I can share a story from Arrowhead… When I arrived at Melgeorge (approx 1/2 way) I was a little slower than I had hoped, but well ahead of cut off. I was thrilled. I knew the race was far from finished, but I knew I had time to rest, leave a few hours ahead of cut off and as long as I kept moving I would finish. There was a fellow who arrived a bit before me. We were standing together and he said to me.” This is the longest it has ever taken me to get here, I am dropping out.” I am sure he had set a higher expectations for himself and was unhappy not meeting them. “IT’S ALL MENTAL”