Jake Wetzel bought some real estate in Golden in 2000 and subsequently went on to compete in three Olympic Games (2000 Sydney, 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing), including winning a silver medal in Athens and a gold in Beijing. Coincidence? We think not.
While it would be easy to think of Jake as a bit of eye candy with some serious neck bling, there is a bit more to the story. Jake took up rowing in 1997 after a successful junior career in cycling, and since his international rowing exploits, also completed a PhD in Finance. Now a father, husband and businessman, we caught up with Jake to figure out "why running?" and "why now?"
"The Golden Ultra is the first race that I've truly prepared for since I retired from rowing. I was inspired by Magi Scallion (Race Director) to do it because I think that it's just a great thing for Golden. It really profiles what Golden has to offer right from town - not just the national parks and other nearby attractions. Golden is not a traditionally sporty town and it's quite a humble community so it's really nice to give it this opportunity to shine."
"I had never done a running event before this summer but I know how to prepare. I think that running ultramarathons is really mental, and in a lot of ways that is what competing at the Olympic level was like. You have to really prepare for everything - segment the race, plan your nutrition, plan your lead up, and do your training. It's very mentally challenging."
"The thing I've enjoyed most is having a goal and doing something consistently. You can't take training gaps when you're preparing for an ultramarathon. It's been fun to run with other people and get into places that I would not go alone. I've done two events in preparation - the MEC 50 km in North Vancouver and the SkyPilot in Squamish. I really don't think of them as 'races,' and I don't feel the competitive pressure, it's more a challenge to push yourself to do more and it changes the way you look at exploring."
"I've had a place in Golden since 2000 so I know the area well. I think the biggest challenge for me will be the section from the Moonraker trails up the canyon to the top. It will be a long climb but it is so scenic: looking down the Purcells and into the Columbia Valley. It is one of the most beautiful spots and I think that will make that hard section worth it."
Good luck Jake! We're stoked to have you representing Golden!