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Between Two Pines Takes on Western States

The lottery gods have smiled upon us, and Dominic Grossman and Andy Pearson, hosts of Between Two Pines Podcast, will take their turn in the hot seat this weekend, June 29, 2024, when they hit the start line of the Western States Endurance Run in Olympic Valley.

Zoë Rom

June 26th, 2024

5 min read


This week, UltraSignup is sending two of its best and brightest to compete in North America’s most competitive 100-mile foot race: the Western States Endurance Run.  

The lottery gods have smiled upon us, and Dominic Grossman and Andy Pearson, hosts of Between Two Pines Podcast, will take their turn in the hot seat this weekend when they hit the start line in Olympic Valley. It has absolutely nothing to do with this interview, thank you for asking.

The Long Road to Olympic Valley 

Pearson and Grossman are no strangers to Western States.  

In 2014, Grossman was in a Golden Ticket position at the Sean O’Brien 100k, but decided at the line to wait for his friend Chris Price to finish and take the ticket.  

“He hates that story so much,” says Grossman.  His sponsor at the time, Injinji, gave him a sponsor bib for WSER anyway.  

Grossman, throwing himself fully into training, logged ten back-to-back 100+ mile weeks. While he felt fit and fast, he showed up flat and tired on race day.  

“I trained hard, too hard in fact, and was burnt out by race day,” says Grossman. “I felt so tired and sleepy from miles 10-75. I hung on to finish in 18:09.” 

Lessons in Patience 

Pearson lotteried into the race in 2016. And it has taken him eight years to get back in. Patience remains a virtue for Pearson, whose stoke exceeded his grasp early in his WSER training, and was sidelined with injury.  

“I was so excited about getting into States that I went out too hard in training and hurt myself,” says Pearson. “So the enthusiasm was there, if not the patience. So I guess I learned not to be an idiot.” 

Grossman has also tried to implement the lessons learned from past mistakes in his WSER training, focusing more on having fun than on logging impressive, high-volume training weeks. Instead, he focused on slowly increasing his training volume and building speed with a downhill road marathon and the Silver State 50-miler. Over the winter, Grossman skied with his two daughters and toured the backcountry. A more relaxed approach to training gave him better bandwidth to handle volume increases down the road.  

“When I was younger, I cared so much about performance. It was fun pushing myself super hard for months on end in training, but obsessing about performance kept me from enjoying the event more. This time around I’m more looking forward to enjoying all the miles and all the people I meet along the way,” says Grossman. “I’m not too nervous because I’m just going to go out and do my best and not force things.” 

From the Pines to the Track 

Pearson says he looks forward to rounding the Placer County High School track, and feels a sense of calm as he rounds the final corner of race preparation. 

“It’s always a really special moment,” says Pearson. I’m looking forward to that. As for being nervous, I’m not, which makes me nervous.” 

Pearson and Grossman have “interviewed” or, uh, roasted several prominent WSER names on their podcast, which has given them a new appreciation for this storied race and the runners who hope to be a part of history on the road from Olympic Valley to Auburn.  

“When we are roasting our guests, I think they are revealing some of their opinions on the sport and their frustrations,” says Grossman. “I think I’ve learned that they are much more multifaceted and that they have real human emotions. My takeaway is that ultras are more about celebrating humanity than winning the race.” 

While Pearson insists the BTP duo aren’t known for running advice, they do offer some choice nuggets for other runners lining up this weekend.  

Be present. Enjoy the day, whatever it brings. Shove ice in whatever crevices you can.  

“Buckle up,” warns Pearson. “Those canyons are going to be screaming hot. I bought a hand-crank shaved ice maker I’m going to have my crew use to essentially make snow for me I can shove into my hat. I think it’ll be the most important advance in ultrarunning technology since Spring Gels.” 

“The volunteers and the community are so special. Soak up the love and enjoy the journey. The gold isn’t in the hills; it’s in the people,” says Grossman. “Enjoy the journey, the challenge, the unconditional love the entire race gives you.” 

You can listen to BTP’s latest episode about all things Western States and Billy Yang wherever you get your podcasts. 

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