Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Catching up with Novato HS's Erik Olson...

The past Sunday, the 98th annual Dipsea race took place once again on the 2nd Sunday of June. This legendary race attracts some of the best runners in the Marin area as they attempt to either win the race, claim one of 35 black shirts or just simply survive the rugged 7.5 mile course. Novato HS sophomore Erik Olson (pictured to the left courtesy of the Novato Advance) did more than survive as he finished in 14th place and claimed the top spot by a high school runner. Olson has quickly established himself as one of the up and coming runners in the NCS this past year as he finished 5th in the NCS Division III cross country race to qualify to the state meet as an individual. He also finished 6th at the NCS MOC in the uber-competitive 3200m. recording a lifetime best time of 9:25.62.

1) How did you get interested in participating in the Dipsea race?

Well, last year I volunteered along with my sister and thought it looked like a fun race. So I talked my coach about it and we decided that it would be a fun thing to do at the end of the track season. Unfortunately, my sister wanted to run it but was not able to on account of going to college at UCSD.

2) What did you do in preparation to run on the Dipsea course? Have you run on the trails before?
The week before, I ran the practice Dipsea along with my fellow teammate Courtney Madson, who was also running it this year. After running that I realized that the Dipsea would not be an easy jog in the park. So, two days after the practice Dipsea, my coach, Mr. Bousquette, took me and a couple of teammates along to rerun the course and figure out all the well-known shortcuts. I then just ran long runs around Novato with as many hills as possible just to get my muscles use to the strain of hill running.

3) What was the most difficult part of the race? Favorite part of the race such as a part of the course, fellow runners, the crowd, a tradition etc?
The most difficult for me would have to be going up Cardiac Hill. It is not that the hill itself is hard, it is just that you feel every other hill prior to Cardiac when your running up the hill. My favorite part would have to be the top of Cardiac because there were people there cheering for you and the rest of the race was relatively downhill. I would also like to thank all the race supporters and the crowd because they truly made this experience wonderful.

4) Can you describe the course for any runners that have never done it before?
The Dipsea is basically uphill till 4.1 miles and then downhill the last 3.4 miles. If you planing on running it, be prepared for the stairs both up and down. While the hills are hard, you can train for those by just running hill repeats, but the stairs were a killer for me. Going up the stairs is tough because you feel the burn in your calves, but going down the stairs in Steep Ravine is the hardest. Oh, and if you haven't run it before, you must learn the shortcuts! Also, do not worry if you feel insanely sore after running the Dipsea, and if you don't feel sore at all, you are a beastly runner.

5) Before the race, were you aware of all the history that goes along with this event?
Yes, but I was not aware of all the great runners that ran the Dipsea.I also never realized how hard it is to win it until I ran it; so I now have the utmost respect to all the men and women who have won the Dipsea. Now I feel apart of the Dipsea crowd and hopefully I will be able to run it next year.

6) How many runners do you think you passed throughout the race?
I am not sure. Possibly 100. I had a three minute head start so i figure there were at least 100 people ahead of me. It may be more or less. I'm really not sure.

7) Looking back at your track and field season, what do you consider your best race? Proudest achievement? Best track and field meet?
Best personal race would have to be NCS MOC were I p.r.ed in the 3200. Best race overall would have to be the Skyline Distance Fiesta because the whole distance team went and it just felt like a giant party. My proudest achievement would be wining the distance triple at MCALs which helped prepare me mentally and physicall going into the NCS races.

8) How did you get your start in distance running? Who were the runners that you looked up to as you were getting started as well as now?
Well my sister, mom, and dad got me into running. Going into 8th grade, my sister started doing double days over the summer and in the morning runs I decided to run along and thats where it all started. In the beginning I could barely stay with my sister, but by the end of the summer we were both improving. I didn't start race competitively until freshman year, but my family has always been active and my family and i did fun runs. When I first started running, I looked up to Pre, but then I realized that personality wise he wasn't a great role model. I then started hearing about this Californian runner Ryan Hall and I've looked up to him ever since. I personally look up to him more for his religious method towards running and try to look at running in the same light.

9) Who is going to be your toughest competition in the MCAL and NCS next year?
A lot of people. Umm... to name a few MCAL runners Corey Rand (a great miler and 800 runner he never gives in an will stay on you the whole race), Steven Iglehart (a fierce 3200 runner), Peter Kissin (another tough 3200 runner with great genes), and Brian Hernandez (a great miler). For NCS, obviously Sterling and his brother Devin. Both of whom are fantastic XC runners and track runners and will be in our division this year. Wyatt Landrum of course. Umm...Alex Summers of Granada who had an awesome sophomore year this year and Mark Blattler who must of had the fastest sprint I have ever seen in XC.

10) If you had to choose your favorite race on the track , what would that distance be and why?
3200, because if you make a mistake, you can still be in the race, and since I am a distance runner I feel that the more laps I run the more I can relax and get in to my running "groove."

11) What are your plans for the summer in preparation for your junior season in cross country?
Lots of mileage with my teammates and cross training. I'll be training with Novato's top seven, to hopefully build a strong team for next year and my senior year. The team and I may do a running camp in the mountains but we're not sure yet. Our teams looking great and we're all young so I'm hoping we will continue to improve from my freshman year.

12) What have been the most important workouts for you that have been a big part of your success in both xc and track?
400's they not only help me, but when we run them, everyone seems to have a great race the next week. Also, any run that includes the team seems to get me pumped up for races. For example, when we do a five mile team run at a relatively fast pace and everyone stays together, that gets me excited for the races to come.

Thank you again for your time and I'd like to say watchout for Kiko Rodriguez, Marc Klunk, Joe Montoya, River Raras, and John Latham they're going to be the runners to look out for!!!!

Thank you very much for your time Erik!


Anonymous said...

hahaha Erik has really come a long way since he was a 7th grader.

I remember he did a 4 mile race in around 7:30 pace in May 2005 (when he was in 7th grade). He also ran the Kenwood 4th of July race in a little under 13 minute (I personally beat him by over 2 minutes and I wasn't even fast in that race). Basically, he was pretty slow at that time.

In 8th grade, he was still a good minute and a half slower than future Novato high school teammate Mark Bretan (a sophomore at the time). By track season though, he dropped his times to around 4:40 for 1500 and 10:40 (or something like that) at Kenwood 3000.

Once Erik got into high school, he just kept on improving from day one. As a freshman, he (much to my suprise) challenged junior teammate Mark Bretan in almost every race. Though Mark Bretan was usually faster that season in XC, Erik was never more than 20 seconds behind. Ultimately, he finished 6th in MCALs and ran an impressive 16:49 at NCS.

However, if his first high school XC season was good, his first track season was simply amazing. By that time, Erik was clearly establishing himself as the #1 runner at his school. He really shocked the entire MCAL league in the 1600 finals when he kept up with David Buscho for most of the race to run a 4:28. He then came back later that day to run a 9:57 3200 (2nd place). He literally lept across the finish line in that race. At NCS, he furthur PRed in the 3200 by running a 9:42.

Of course, everybody knows how well his sophomore year went. Here are just a few highlights: #1 runner at his school by over a minute (in most races), MCAL champ by 24 seconds, 5th place NCS D-III in 15:35, 17th place State D-III in 16:10, also placed 2nd to German Fernandez in some random Invite. In track he achieved: 4:20, 1:59, 9:25, MCAL 1600/800/3200 champ, 2nd NCS Redwood Empire in both 1600/3200, and 6th at NCS MOC.

In conclusion, with his amazing level of improvement, I can't wait to see what Erik is capable of doing.

Anonymous said...

Also thank you Erik for mentioning Branson's Steven Iglehart as a fierce 3200 runner. He's a very talented runner and you guys will be representing the MCAL league with your awesomeness. Steven = 4:30/9:34 BTW. The previous year he was only 4:55.

Anonymous said...

A little birdie told me that you ran the practice course with Steven Iglehart.

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