Thomas Reiss

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Thomas Reiss

I joined Team Sportiva in January of 2008 and am just now writing my meet the team story.  After six years, many trails, and lots of running shoes later I suppose it’s finally time to tell you a bit about myself.

I started running at 22 in my native country of Germany.  My first goal was simply to finish a marathon.  With just 3 months of training I not only finished, but with a time of 2:56.  Not a bad finish time for so little training.  Then again, I was 22.  Nonetheless, this first success landed me a spot on my hometown’s running club team and opened the doors to the world of middle and long distance running.  As a member of the club, I ran anything from 800m to half marathons.

In 1997, I moved to the United States to marry my wife Valerie, a California native. In my newfound home, I continued running a mixture of 10k’s and half marathons until 2001 when I lost the running fever and quit completely.

In 2005, I learned of the Tahoe Triple, a crazy, three-day race consisting of three back-to-back marathons that no sane person would ever try to run.  Naturally, I had to try it.  Much to my surprise, I won the whole race and set a new course record.  More importantly, I discovered a new passion, long distance running.  I ran the Triple again in 2006 (3Days/3Marathons 8:43:19) and at the end of that year decided to give Ultra races a try.

At the age of 39, I ran my first Ultra, the Jed Smith 50k in 2007 (3:12:32).

That same year, I also had the honor of representing my home country, Germany, at the IAU Ultra Trail World Challenge.  I was a member of the German National Team again in 2009 at the Trail World Challenge in France.

Leading up to 2013, I ran many Ultras all the way up to 100-mile races (results at with good finishes at Leadville 100 (16th overall, 3rd Master), Tahoe Rimtrail 100 (2nd overall, 1st Master) and Western States and much success in the 50k to 50 mile range with a still standing course record at the Tahoe Rimtrail 50 miler.  After all this focus on distance and trails, I decided to work on my speed again and run a road marathon at the end of 2013.

After 3 months of specific road marathon training, I raced at the California International Marathon in Sacramento in December of 2013 where I took 2nd out of 2500 in the Masters division in 2:36.  Not too bad considering the temperature hovered around a bone-chilling 23 degrees all day.  That’s cold even for a German.

This success inspired me to run a 100k road race, despite two past failures with just such endeavors.  In March of 2014, I found myself on the starting line of the Razorback 100k, physically ready to run and finish a 100k road race and prepared to do it fast.  Mother nature had other plans, though.  After almost no rain all winter here in California, the skies unleashed downpours on us all morning.  I completed more than half the race right on plan, even in the bad weather, before the conditions caused my hips to tighten, which led me to drop from the race at mile 37.

In retrospect, I’m happy with my decision to drop from the race, because I didn’t suffer any injuries and recovered fairly quick.  And, being in good physical condition, I ran very well at the American River 50 just a few weeks later.  The race had 1079 registered and almost 900 starters.  My goal was to finish in the top 5 with a time of 6:40.  Running at a solid pace, I found myself in 15th place at mile 9.  By mile 13, I was in 9th place and ultimately finished the race in 3rd place with a 6:39 time.  This was a major victory after the setback at the Razorback 100k.  I won the Masters division, took 3rd overall, and hit my goal time.  Mission accomplished!

This is what I have on the schedule for the rest of the year:

  • Miwok 100k - This will be a nice, long day on the San Francisco headland trails with friends. The main objective is to get a Western States 100 Qualifier.  If I feel good at 40 miles I may try and race the last 20 miles hard. 
  • Big Basin 50k – This race is in early June, a fast trail 50k near Saratoga. 
  • Western States 100 – This race is at the end of June and I’ll be pacing my friend Brett Rivers owner of the famous San Francisco Running Company
  • VACATION – Then the week after WS100 I’m off to Germany for three weeks to rest and relax with my family in July
  • 50 mile USATF Road National Championships
  • Trail Marathon USATF National Championships – My goal is to try to place as high as possible in the Masters Division in both those races, since I am eligible to race at a USATF National Championship since becoming a US Citizen this year

When not running, I am Creative Director at Kraftwerk Design, a high-end, design and branding agency that works primarily within the wine industry. I live in beautiful San Luis Obispo on California’s central coast with my wonderful wife and 2 boys (ages 9 & 11) and our family cat.

Below are some of my PR’s on distances from 800m up and other accomplishments:


  • 800m 1:58:2 (Track, 1995)

  • 5,000m 15:26 (Track, 1996)
  • 10,000m 31:51 (Track, 1996)
  • Halfmarathon 1:09:10 (Road, 1998)

  • Marathon 2:32:18 (Road, 1998)
  • 50km 3:12:32 (Road, 2007)

  • 50 mile 5:56:17 (Road, 2007)

  • 3Days/3Marathons 8:43:19 (Road, Altitude, 2006)                  

Course Record Tahoe Rimtrail 50 Mile
7:52:09 (Trail, Altitude, 2008)

2011 RRCA National Champion Masters 100 Mile Trail
20:58 (Trail, Altitude, 2011)

2x Member German National Team
Trail Ultra

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