Yeah. I haven't been on those trails, but even the best trails I find impose about a minute / mile penalty on my pace vs. road. I've been doing big hill loops -- up ~1,200 feet over a few miles, then down, then repeat. Been trying to bomb the downhill to toughen the quads. I got in one 7:24 mile -- and I felt like I was flying. Most are over 8:00. I was also thinking about Max's performance. Hard to fathom.
We'll both be at the WS training run this weekend; maybe I can pick his brain. But probably he will just disappear down the trail ahead of me.
Funny, he is not too optimistic about Western States. Publicly he is saying he is shooting for sub-20. He says he has not had much success at mountain 100s. I saw him there last year; he wasn't running, not sure whether he was pacing or what. He handily won the Montrail 6k uphill challenge (first 6k of the WS course, straight up), which they hold the day before the race.
BTW here is his Ice Age report.
thanks Bhearn, that was a good read.