Skaden’s breakthrough on hold

Two-time runner-up from Folsom will have to wait another year for shot at WS crown
By: Eric J. Gourley Journal Sports Writer
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Erik Skaden was looking forward to another shot at his first Western States Endurance Run victory. Unfortunately, he’ll have to wait another year after race officials canceled the event Wednesday night due to effects of the Northern California wildfires and the threat of more flare-ups. “The competition was going to be fierce,” said Skaden, runner-up in both 2006 and ‘07. “Every year this race has become more competitive. It’s a benchmark indicator of your relative prominence in the sport. I was looking at four individuals that have distinguished themselves as athletes that could potentially win, myself being one of them. I think each of these athletes have merit and could win given the right combination of events.” The Folsom resident already has a proposition. He hopes 2006 champion Graham Cooper, 2007 winner Hal Koerner and 24-year-old Colorado phenomenon Anton Krupicka will join him July 19 for the Tahoe Rim Trail 100-Mile Endurance Run. “I propose those guys be invited to that race in three weeks and have the opportunity to compete for Northern California 100-mile champion bragging rights,” Skaden said. Skaden has started five Western States runs and completed all but his first in 2002. He’s also finished two Leadville Trail 100-milers in Colorado. “My strategy is fairly basic,” he said. “I run conservative and at the halfway mark the race starts. I start to pick guys off and go for negative splits.” Skaden’s training increased in volume and intensity this year. He focused primarily on race-specific training, spending countless Saturdays on the Western States trail “I was hitting the canyons or running Driver’s Flat in Foresthill,” he said. “It’s the amount of time I’ve spent, the number of hours each Saturday and the total number of Saturdays spent. Anything you want to be exceptional at involves commitment and time to perform a task repetitively and become proficient at it, whether it’s golfing or ultrarunning.” Skaden ran part of the course last Saturday as lightning struck near Cool. “It actually started raining during my training run,” he said. “It didn’t dawn on me that there would be fire until I was driving home and saw fire trucks racing around.” While Skaden understands the reasons for calling off the race, he said thick smoke blanketing the air “wouldn’t affect the frontrunners at all.” “We’re in such tremendous athletic condition that I think we would just have to be cognitive of the air quality and slow down, not try to overexert,” he said. “We’d have to back off a little, but there would still be potential to decide who is the clear-cut winner.” Whether the favorites will take Skaden up on his offer remains to be seen, but he’ll be happy with a win in Tahoe next month regardless of his competition. “I don’t run for my peer group’s validation,” he said. “I’m running for reasons that are self-motivated. I’ve set a goal to win the race and I’m not going to be satisfied until I’ve met that personal goal. It’s a personal satisfaction issue.”