MF: To say the course is hellish is an understatement. Did you have any gear that made a difference?
JP: I went through two pairs of Inov-8 shoes. They’re minimalist with a very aggressive tread and are made for events like this. For apparel, it was really just a wetsuit and some base layers. I learned from last year—you cannot make it through an event like this without a serious insulated layer, no matter how tough you are. It’s just a matter of physiology and biochemistry. Once your body drops to a certain temperature, it stops functioning properly.
MF: Let’s talk about race day. Being the incumbent winner, guys were definitely vying to take you down. What was the competition like?
JP: Last year, the weather was the biggest struggle—in terms of the course and the cold. This year, it was the other guys in the race, especially with people gunning for me. I had a big target on my back. The first four laps I had company. I was running stride for stride with two other people. For a 24-hour race, this is not the wisest move to make. You should run as evenly as possible—sprinting is going to take a toll further down the line. Fortunately for me, it broke the other guys. They wanted the glory of taking someone down, but I was just too stubborn to give it up.