Quick & Dirty: Tyler Sigl

Quick & Dirty
Brief Interviews with Top Trail Talent

Over this past weekend, Tyler Sigl repeated as victor and new course record holder at The North Face Endurance Challenge – Madison 50 Mile.  While the Midwest doesn't often host the most competitive ultras in the country, Tyler's times the past two years (in his only two ultramarathons) deserve a lot of respect and attention.  He is an incredibly strong runner (2:17 marathon PB) who has adapted well to ultramarathons.  I caught up with Tyler for this edition of Quick & Dirty to hear about those races as well as his future racing plans.

Tyler en route to winning The North Face Endurance Challenge – Madison 50 Mile
RunFlaherty.com: Can you share a bit about your competitive running background pre-ultras?

Tyler Sigl: I went to Seymour high school and graduated in 2004. I ran track all 4 years, making it to state (division II) in the 1600 and 3200. I placed 4th in the mile in 4:22 (8sec pr) and 3rd in the 3200 in 9:34 (~15 sec pr). I joined XC my sophomore year and made state my jr year (20th) and sr year (5th).

College— I went to UW-Platteville (DIII) where I ran track and XC. I qualified for nationals all for years in XC placing 14th, 4th, 10th and 1st with an 8k pr of 24:02. In indoor track nationals I placed 2nd in the mile my freshman year. My sophomore year I qualified in the mile and got 10th (got mono during the season and ran through it). I got 5th in the 5k my jr year and senior year I got 2nd in the 5k (by .01) and I anchored our DMR to 1st. Outdoor track I was 17th in the 10k fr year, 3rd in the 5k so year, 1st in the 10k and 2nd in the 5k my jr year and 1st in the 10k and 3rd in the 5k my sr year. I ran PRs of 4:10 in the mile, 8:17 in the 3k, 14:20 in the 5k and 30:03 in the 10k.

Post College— As you can see from my results, the farther the race the better I got so once I was done competing in college I started to race half and full marathons. I made my marathon debut at Chicago in 08 and crashed with the heat that year (ran like 2:52). The next year I ran the twin cities marathon and had what I would call the best race of my life to date. I ran 2:17:28 which qualified me for the US Olympic Trials. Since this race I’ve ran2:19:XX a handful of time but have not been able to replicate the 2:17. My most memorable race would be the 2012 US Olympic trials race. I went out fast than I wanted but I tried to put myself in contention to place well. I went through 17.5 miles at 2:14XX pace and was in 26th place and that’s when I crashed. I ended up running 2:19 and change and placed 46th overall. It wasn’t the race that I wanted but when you’re a little aggressive you either hit a nice PR or take a couple punches. Post college PRs are 5k-14:20, 8k-23:46, 10k-29:46, 1/2mar-65:33, marathon – 2:17:28, 50m trail – 5:27:55

RF: I was very impressed by your ultra debut at last year's The North Face Endurance Challenge - Madison, where you won with a CR 5:38:49. Then you went even faster this year, winning again on Saturday with a 5:27:55 (besting second place Scott Gall by an hour). Can you tell us about how those two performances went for you? Was it what you expected? Any particularly hard patches you had to work through?

TS: Both last year’s race and this year’s races when spectacular. Both years had perfect race conditions and cool race time temperatures. I was able to take plenty of fluids and nutrition with no adverse side effects (side aches, indigestions, etc.). Last year I wasn’t sure how to pace myself or what the terrain was going to be like so I ran the first ¼ of the race in 1st/2nd place. At that point it was daylight and I felt good so I took off and finished a solid race. This year I was hoping to get in a solid effort (not kill myself) and improve on last year’s performance. Both years around mile 35-45 were probably the hardest part of the races for me. 35 miles is a little longer than my longest training run so I have to break through that barrier and stay mentally strong. Once I hit mile 45 I could taste the finish and things picked back up. All in all, both races went about as expect although I ran a little quicker this year than I thought I would by a couple of minutes.

RF: Why did you decide to race ultramarathons?

TS: I decided to take the jump to ultramarathons because I needed a change. I was doing the same training and same race distances for 5 years and my times had plateaued. Last year I ran TNFEC just for a change of pace, to mix things up a little bit. I always thought the longer the race the better I did so why not? I enjoyed the race and the surrounding atmosphere but most of all I enjoyed the result. After one ultra, I was hooked. I had a couple of ultras on my radar for the spring/early summer and none of them fit into my schedule. Shortly after registration opened for TNFEC I signed up and booked my fall schedule around that.

RF: You're running the USA 50 Mile Road Championships at the Fall 50 on October 25. What are your goals for that race? Do you think you can approach the elusive sub-5 hour mark (North American All-Time List)?

TS: The Fall 50 is only an hour (to the finish line) from my house and with it being the 50 mile road champs I have to run it. I’ve got a couple of goals for the race, my primary goal is to win. I like to go into every race thinking that I have the possibility of winning…it’s why I race. I love to compete. Competition is what makes racing fun (at least to me). My secondary goal is to break the 5 hour mark. Zach Bitter ran 5:26 on the course in 2011 after going 6:08 at TNFEC so I know the course is a bit faster (being on the roads as opposed to sandy trails helps). If we get a tail wind and if there’s some good competition with the race being a championship don’t be surprised if you see a sub 5. I know sub 5 is being a bit ambitious and 5:15 would be more suitable but like the old saying goes, “Go big or go home.”.

RF: Do you have any other plans for ultras in the future? Any interest in competing at some of the marquee events in the U.S., like the TNF EC 50 Mile Championships in San Francisco?

TS: As of right now I don’t have any other ultras planned. I’m still on the fence on whether or not I want to fly out to San Fran for TNF EC 50 mile champs. I haven’t raced three marathon in a year let alone try to run three 50 mile races in 3 months. Last year I had a quicker recovery from the 50 miler than I did for marathons so we’ll see. As for next year I’ve picked out about 10 ultras so far that I’d like to dabble with that I need to narrow down (Mad city 50k/100k, ice age trail 50m, Cayuga Trails 50m, TNF race series, Fall 50m, Caumsett 50K…). I still plan race some 5k-marathon race distances as well.