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2010 UTMB: Pre-Race Interviews – Part 1

9 questions answered by a few of the best trail runners on the 2010 edition of the UTMB:

Sebastien Chaigneau, Julien Chorier, Miguel Heras, Kilian Jornet, Karl Meltzer, Geoff Roes, Dawa Sherpa and Lizzy Hawker.

Just a couple of notes before going to the juicy stuff: those are just the athletes I had the chance to get in touch with and, obviously, they are not the only ones with chances to take a top stop at this year’s race. I also wasn’t lucky to contact any women running the UTMB I’m happy to say that we have Lizzy Hawker on board!. But I’ll leave the article “open” in case I hear back from any other runners.

So here’s the first 4 questions of the interview. Stay tuned for the second part in the next few days!

Are you running any races on the weeks prior to the UTMB?

Sebastien Chaigneau – No, I’m not the kind of runner who runs every weekend, first of all because I don’t think I have the physical ability, and maybe not even the mental one for that. My line of action is to nourish the enjoyment, to grow the feeling. To take part of a race, specially an ultra, I need my body to be fresh and my mind to be dying to run that race…to be 100%! Therefore I stop racing 8 weeks before a big event like the UTMB

Julien Chorier – No, my last competition was late June at the Andorra Ultra Trail

Lizzy Hawker – It has been a full season this year – focusing towards UTMB at the end of August. Just earlier this month I made a beautiful 2-day stage race (the Gondo Event) a double marathon over the Simplon Pass – a race created in memory of the inhabitants of Gondo who died during terrible floods during 2000. On Sunday 22nd I will do a short ‘warm up’ race – the Matterhornlauf – another beauty which finishes at the foot of the Matterhorn. It will be just enough to get the head, heart and legs into race ‘mode’.

Miguel Heras – No, this year I will just train to get more rest. Throughout the year I ran the races I found more adequate for my preparation towards the UTMB

Kilian Jornet – Yes, the Giir di Mont, the Skyrunning World Championship (32Km) and Sierre Zinal (31Km), but they are not training races for me, but goals in itself

Karl Meltzer – Not from this point on. I just ran the Ashland Hill Climb last weekend [August 6th] for fun. 13.5 miles, 5600′ vertical climb. It was not that steep.

Geoff Roes – I ran a 25 mile wilderness race in Alaska (the crow pass crossing) a couple weeks ago. That will be my only race between Western States and UTMB

Dawa Sherpa – No, I ran on Sunday [August 8th] in Courchevel my last one before the UTMB

What is your motivation to run this race?

Sebastien Chaigneau – I love the alpine profile, it’s a course absolutely gorgeous in terms of scenery. We’ll climb a mythical peak. This race’s profile goes well with me but I had to tame it first though: for two editions I was forced to quit, on the third I finished 20th in a bit over 24 hours. The third time was really a pleasure when I finally took the 2nd place. And all those steps allowed me to tame the course!

Today I feel well on it, I know how I have to run to be at my best. And then the atmosphere is so amazing, the goose bumps on the start line, the cheering all along the race! It’s a unique ultra with a mix of nationalities, very strong runners but also an amazing camaraderie. All in all, it’s the Mecca of the ultra… and I love it!

Julien Chorier – After my drop out in 2009, I really look forward finishing this edition

Lizzy Hawker – My motivation to run UTMB is to again be part of something that is so much more than just the incredible challenge of the race itself. Every runner, every volunteer and every supporter becomes part of something truly special – the shared passion and dedication make this so much more than just a race – more a shared journey of exploration and endurance within the greater journey of our own life.

Miguel Heras – My personal challenge is to finish under 24 hours

Kilian Jornet – The special atmosphere one lives during the race, the scenery and the course are amazing. I have run it for two years now and it’s a unique race, with a tough trail and first class runners

Karl Meltzer – A trip to Europe and the course is sweet. The race not having prize money means it’s just another race really. The opportunity to run a nice course is always good.

Geoff Roes – It just sounds like a really amazing experience with top notch competition. And 30,000 feet of climbing. It doesn’t get much better than that

Dawa Sherpa – For me I run this race as any other, except that you have to manage night hours

What are your personal expectations and how do you feel about it?

Sebastien Chaigneau – For me I’m going to live a great adventure. The UTMB is a great and beautiful adventure which will last between 20 and 25 hours (hopefully not more than that!). I’m permanently looking for enjoyment when I toe the start line of an ultra (as I said before)

Julien Chorier – My goal is mainly to finish and, if all the right conditions are met, to be close to 22 hours. For this I will have to really manage well the race. Currently, my preparation is all under normal parameters

Lizzy Hawker – I am truly looking forward to again being part of this experience, and to making what is such a beautiful mountain journey. Of course I have expectations, but with a race like this anything can happen. So my goal is to run the best that I can, to give as much as I can, and to run with joy inside.

Miguel Heras – To finish in the top 5. It ¡s not going to be easy, as there are many factors involved: injuries, blisters, the elevation gain,… If I’m lucky, I hope to achieve my goal!

Kilian Jornet – My main goal is to enjoy myself, but that’s guaranteed just being part of the race. In terms of results, the goal is to be as close to the top as possible. Achieving a 3rd victory would be unbelievable

Karl Meltzer – My only expectations are to finish. Top 10 would be great. I know I can run top 5 if I have a decent run. I’m in decent shape, so we’ll see.

Geoff Roes – I don’t really know what to expect. I think that I am very well suited for this race. I typically do really well with big, long, steady climbs and this race has 10 of them! I think this is going to be a really fun one. And that’s mostly what I’m looking for

Dawa Sherpa – I never have goals. I start the race as usual and let my body do the rest, and if it does not turn out to go as last year’s, I will just stop and drop out

Tell us briefly about how will be the week previous to the big day (nutrition, physical and mental preparation, training with other racers, …)

Sebastien Chaigneau – At nutrition level, I’ll watch out to not have anything which could be bad for my instestins, as fruits, raw food or food with too much fiber. I won’t be doing any major changes other than get extra energy through Malto, a product from Overstim’s that allows to carbo-load without overloading your stomach.
At a physical and mental level, I’m going to have a break in Val Ferret, Italy, with no cellphone signal to avoid any calls. I’ve been told that having a good result at the UTMB on a previous edition will put you on the media spot, and I need to get focused. I’ve got a generous side which turns into a defect in this type of situations… At training level, I’ll do short daily 30 min shooting sessions for my partners, just enough to keep my legs fresh!

Julien Chorier – The previous week I’m going to work until Wednesday, which will help keep the race out of my mind a bit. In terms of training, I’ll do a couple of 30min runs on Monday and Wednesday. As per my diet, I do a carbohydrates reload four days prior the day of the event and I cut back on fiber.

Lizzy Hawker – For me it is important the week before a big race to find some quiet – to allow myself the time and space to prepare physically and mentally, to absorb some of that beautiful energy of the mountains, and to realise how lucky we are just to ‘be’.

Miguel Heras – I’ll spend the week before combining rest and light training. I’ll be with Kilian, Nerea [Martinez] and my family. As per the nutrition, I don’t make any big changes, except loading more carbohydrates than usual. My psychological way of preparing is actually not thinking about the race, which is easily achieved just being with my 2-year-old daughter!

Kilian Jornet – It’s going to be a resting week, with the usual 2-3 hour training Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday is rest and Thursday an easy hour. At nutrition level I won’t change much, just carbo-load starting on Thursday and stay away from indigestible food. I hope to train with my friend Miguel Heras and maybe even be joined by other runners!

Karl Meltzer – I won’t train with others. I plan on chilling out in Switzerland until about 2 days before the race, then showing up and running. Mentally, it’s no different than any other 100 I’ve run. I just get to run all day supported. Nutrition wise, I’ll just eat what I normally eat, which is everything in sight. No junk food stuff, but I don’t have a specific type of diet.

Geoff Roes – Nothing too specific. I’ll be travelling over to Europe on Monday and just relaxing, sleeping a lot, short runs, and hopefully some great food. In the next few days, before heading over there I’ll try to squeeze in a few last big mountain runs, but the fitness that I’m going to be using for this race is already there from all the mountain running I’ve been doing since Western States

Dawa Sherpa – I never change my diet habits the week before the race and I don’t do any training either. I just physically and mentally rest