Miguel Heras, 2010 TNF EC Champion, Interview

Miguel Heras surprised the American ultrarunning world when he won the 2010 The North Face Endurance Challenge Championships. Heras’s victory was much less of a surprise to European ultra fans. Miguel is a long-time endurance athlete who has successfully transitioned from adventure racing to trail running in recent years. Listen to our interview to learn a bit more about his background, what he’s been running, what he thinks about the globalization of trail running, and where you might see him next.

[Ps. This is our first attempt as a translated video interview. We kept both Miguel Heras’s Spanish and the translation provided by Eduard Martinell of TrailRunningSoul.com. Please let us know if you have suggestions for the format of future bilingual video interviews.]

There are 52 comments

  1. Malcolm

    That was cool Bryon, only suggestion would be to have the translator on screen maybe? Other than that its a great interview, good questions too :)

    1. Bryon Powell

      It's been a long time since I studied Spanish, but I had fun picking up some of what Miguel was saying. I thought others English speakers might, too, while Spanish speakers might want to hear the original.

  2. Positive

    [This comment has been deleted. An individual with a history of anonymously posting inciting, baseless comments made unsupported accusations regarding a competitor in this past weekend's race. Any comments made by this person were to be held for moderation, I mistakenly allowed publication without checking who posted it. I apologize for that.

    While I've deleted fewer than 5 comments in the entirety of iRunFar's history, I reserve the write to delete hurtful comments, especially those posted by individuals with a history of similarly inappropriate comments. Furthermore, in situations where an anonymous individual repeatedly makes such comments, I can and will publicly out the individual. The trail running and ultrarunning worlds are small and such action would not be positively received.]

    1. Bryon Powell

      First off, this is a baseless accusation launched against a guy respected by all the top guys he beat this past weekend. Second, it's quite cowardly to post such a comment anonymously. If you're going to let accusations fly, please have the guts to post your name and, privately, your email address. I'd certainly like to have a few words with you offline.

      On a more substantive note, per the discussion over at the TNF Editorial article, there's simply not enough money or prestige in ultra trail running to warrant drug use at this point. Drug testing is, however, an issue that must be considered in the future.

    2. DavidP

      Positive it´s not only european runners/cyclists vinculated to EPO or doping.

      Let me remember… Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, Marion Jones, Lashawn Merrit, and a little more, even Armstrong has been still investigating about the "swiss blood affair"…

      Doping is a PROBLEM for everyone who likes sports, pure sport as you say.

      Europeans or americans. Same problem for everyone. And the problem is MONEY.

      Don´t believe you´re better than anyone else.

      Saludos

      DavidP

      http://corrersinsentido.blogspot.com/

    3. Brad G.

      "EPO/descended from cyclist Europeans". Wow, any other sweeping generalizations you'd like to share? Why is it that some Americans have such a tough time accepting results that don't fit with their expectations? Mountain running has a deep history in Europe and is ingrained in the culture to a greater extent than it is in the US. It stands to reason that these circumstances will produce some pretty damn good mountain runners. Drug testing may need to become a part of trail racing in the future but give Miguel the credit he deserves as Geoff and many of the other US competitors already have. He ran a great race and a brave race. He deserves some respect, not spurious accusations.

  3. Edu Martinell

    Bryon! I thought you were going to edit and cut my voice out of the video!!!! And guys, there's no need to see me on the video…. it's embarrassing enough like this!

    Anyway, great job during the entire event. You are definitely THE man to look for in this sport.

    Keep it up!

    1. Bryon Powell

      Edu, I'm sorry for the switch. Trust me, it wasn't intended. I didn't have an easy way to transcribe the text and include it in the video.

      Thanks for the kind words, I really appreciate them from one of my peers in the ultra trail media!

      See you in Chamonix!

  4. DaveB

    Hey Bryon,

    Great work! Keep doing what you're doing. I always look forward to your posts. I'll repeat what some other people have already said, have the translator on screen if possible. No big deal either way. You've done a great job so far, I hope iRunfar becomes everything you want it to be.

    Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

    Hey, it's probably a good time to remind people to link to amazon through iRunfar. I use amazon frequently, but many times I forget to come through iRunfar.

  5. Livan

    Positive, clean your mind, is infected from diarrea. I like this website long time ago, I read it everyday (I´m from Spain) (sorry for my english), It is a shame to read someone as Positive creating hatred with his words.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Livan, please don't let Positive's comments cloud your mind about iRunFar. Although I completely disagree with Positive's implied accusation, I aim to minimize my control of speech on these boards.

    2. Matt

      Bryon's approach of letting people speak freely is great, even when they talk highly controversial things. That's the price of freedom of speech. But, if you (Livan, Girona) find that somebody talks "unreasonably" and your reaction is using rude language and no arguments, then you put yourself much lower that the person you disagree with. It's not worth it.

      1. Anonymous

        Matt,
        freedom of speech? Have you heard about moral values?

        Arguments? don't work against ignorants and intolerants. I don't need them either because there is not evidence not even a small sign that would indicate that those accusations are possible.

        This is what happened:
        A guy (Spanish and unknown by most of you) was no more than 4 min behind the leaders for the whole race and he ends up winning the race by 4 min. People that do not know Miguel at all accuse him of cheating and we all know it is because he is not an American runner (clear signs of ignorance and intolerance).

        It is evident that Miguel was superior to rest of the runners in this race, a clear sign that Miguel is a super strong athlete.
        Girona.

        1. Bryon Powell

          I suspect that you and Matt agree more than it first appears. You both agree that there's no way that you'll convince the makers of these accusations to change their ways. There's reasoning with them. What I think Matt's trying to say while you can call these people out for their unsupported accusations, further attacking them does little good.

          As for "freedom of speech," Matt's simply noting that aside from substanceless personal attacks against others on the board, I let everybody speak. Where I strongly disagree, as I do with these accusations, I still believe I need to leave the comments up and note my disagreement, which I have. Miguel Heras is a great runner and, from the limited time I've spent with him, a great person. I think the vast majority of the readers of this website would agree… let's ignore the ignorant others.

          1. DavidP

            I agree with you at all Byron!!!!

            Amazing how envy can makes us blind.

            Best of sport is knowing how to win and specially how to loose. No matter what country are you from.

            Lots of effort behind those athletes and they deserve our respect and cheers at all.

            As i said little time ago, am willing for UTMB 2011. Great fight!!!!!

            Saludos

            DavidP
            http://corrersinsentido.blogspot.com/

  6. -Gus

    I want to first say that this website is really great – secondly, I would say that even with "serious" ultra running events in America, ultra running, so far, is not that serious. There will only be so many amateur athletes who take this level of distance running seriously – without prize money or comfy sponsorship the opportunity costs associated with 80+ mile weeks are usually not worth it… for most folks. However, if a promoter/sponsor wants to start introducing larger purses, primes, salary…etc, then things might change. I think that right now there is probably a relatively large contingent of "pro" marathon runners, and maybe pro triathletes, who would step into these races if there was a cash incentive – and blow the doors off the current crop of "serious" ultra runners. Forget drugs, when there is a consistent stream of money and support, speeds go WAY UP! – Gus

  7. patrick

    bryon, by no means am i an expert but i have spent many years in and out of the media world and a couple things i would suggest:

    1.) let the poor guy sit down.
    2.) keep yourself offscreen. in the world of journalism its considered very self-aggrandizing to stay in the frame or to cut to shots of the interviewer during an interview. the key point that was always emphasized in work and school: "you are not interesting! the person you are interviewing IS."
    3.) for non-english interviews, the best course of action is post-translations added as subtitles. in a pinch, you can have an off-camera translator quickly giving the responses. this is considered a last-resort option, usually reserved for unusual location shooting i.e. a tribes man in africa or something, where it is better to get a translation right then when your hired translator is nearby, rather than waiting until your back in post, trying to track down someone to do the translation.

    i hope it goes without saying that i don't think self-aggrandizement is your goal! hahaha! far from it! your are very selfless journalist in this field, but again…i would recommend a nice tight shot on the interview subject (whilst he is seated), with little to no audible prompting from the interviewer.

    here's a nice example (although i wouldn't necessarily crop SO close to a runner's face. a little overwhelming at times, plus you've got great scenary that could be fit in easily. i'm thinking like waist up, from a seated position. anyway…you can see in this clip that none of the interviewers comments make it into the final edit. just a solid, informative talk from the subject (a favorite author of mine) …i hope none of this comes off as unwarranted or wanted! just some ideas! take or leave them as you see fit! thank you once again for all of your hard work, you're doing a phenomenal job!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ggtt7cODZd0&fe

  8. DaveB

    Bryon,

    I don't want to start another argument here, but I disagree with Patrick. I also worked in TV and radio many years ago, so I do have some understanding of the subject. Your style of interviewing is appropriate for the subject and setting. You have the experience, intelligence, and knowledge. You are a runner. You have firsthand knowledge about the races and racers. You've been through all the training and competition issues, good and bad. This is your blog, The Bryon Powell Show. Just relax and keep it casual, you will work out the minor issues. These are not interrogations, nor slick big media propaganda. Your interviews are interesting conversations between people who are passionate about running. As a fellow runner, I trust you to ask the questions I would ask. So far, I think you are doing just fine. Does David Letterman sit off screen when he interviews his guests? No. How about Charlie Rose? No, he has a engaged conversation. So remember, your style is correct for the subject and the setting. Relax, have a real, informed, engaged, conversation. Have question thought out ahead of time, but absolutely deviate from the questions as the conversation progresses. You are doing great, relax. This is not faceless media. Stay on screen.

    Oh, and unless I'm injured or sick, the last thing I want to do after a hard run is sit down.

    I also like the wide view of the camera, it shows part of the setting of the race. It's been over twenty years since I have run in the coastal ranges of California. It was nice to get a glimpse of the trees and the overcast weather. Thanks.

    I guess I've said enough. Keep up the good work.

  9. Julie

    Awesome interview. I thought the format was great. Although I might be a bit biased because I was at the race, but its good to hear some of Miguel's story after watching him win. The other TNF EC interviews were interesting also.

  10. Josh

    You're doing great especially given your camera man is a tripod and your post production capabilities are basically non-existent.

    This is a post-race winners interview not some 60 Minutes expose.

    Josh

  11. mayayo

    Great job, Bryon.

    Miguel comes from the world of Adventure Raids (Adventure racing as Edu puts it), hence his physical and mental endurance will show more and more the longer a race is. No wonder we cam from behind to swepp the race, specially for those that bother to take a look at his previous results over this year.

    And as for trolls, there will always be some of them, it is a hateful breed that we strive to keep out of our digital houses.

    Looking ahead, we shall see far more of Heras, for sure, as he is an extremely talended runner and terribly tough competitor. Aupa Miguel!!

  12. patrick

    dave, i agree on your point regarding the great scenery! the shot could have been better in that regard. re: sitting. yeah, sit or don't sit. whatever.

    comparing these interviews with charlie rose/letterman/et al is unusual. we are watching the interview because we want to see the winner of an extremely competitive race, not because we are interested in the quips or technical insights of the interviewer (lettermen and rose, respectively) …plus, seriously you're going to compare any interviewer to charlie rose, the institution? yeesh. my point again: when barbara walters is interviewing someone and the camera repeatedly cuts back to walters…that's an ego thing. that's a brand being sold. bryon, by all i have read on this site, is a great guy and does not need to further his brand by standing on camera fidgeting. it's distracting, unnecessary and any journalist will agree that it's just not in anyone's best interest. the subject (the runner) creates the interest. not the journalist. you're not michael moore!

    bryon, do whatever you want, man! you're the only outlet for ultrarunning, you have essentially zero competition! we all appreciate your work! however, i will be very unsurprised if your style of videography changes as your website expands and matures. until then, i will continue to enjoy your writing first and foremost!

    last word from me on this, i swear: be so so careful not to "lead" your interviewees. it's easy to do when you're as knowledgeable on the subject as you are…but i guarantee you will not get nearly half as interesting of responses if you don't let the runners direct the flow of the conversation.

    anyway, fun little foray into a field in which i used to spend quite a bit of time! thanks for the "point-counterpoint" dave!

    -patrick

    1. DaveB

      Hey Patrick,

      Yeah, I guess my comparisons are a little off, but I do think Bryon is on the right path. Well, we have either been of some help to Bryon and should get consulting fees, or we have just added to his uncertainty. Bryon has done a great job all along with improving iRunfar, and I'm sure it will keep evolving in the correct direction.

      You are correct in saying that Bryon is a bit fidgety, and that he needs to keep his questions open, but I still like him onscreen. I like the idea of having someone with experience in the field (of running, not interviewing) conducting a conversational interview. As you mentioned, with open questions that do not lead, unless the interviewee is unresponsive. This style leads to each interview being more unique and hopefully with the correct questions they will also be informative.

      Bryon, like anything else it takes practice, and then it becomes very natural. So just relax and keep up the good work. I promise, no critiques for a while. I really enjoy the content and I don't think about the other stuff so much. Well, . . . until now. Thanks Patrick!

      See you on the trails,

      Dave

      1. patrick

        I guess we'll consider our work here done, dave! hahha! is it too soon for a congratulatory beer? anyway, irunfar now knows that it has a couple of resources to turn to for advice on videojournalism! good chat on some topics i haven't thought over in too long! thanks, dave!

        como la programa…

        paso por paso,

        patrick

      2. Ben Nephew

        Charlie Rose is an incredible interviewer because he does his homework. Bryon has been an ultrarunner for a while, so has been doing his homework on running probably longer than Charlie has for most topics. I would guess that most runners appreciate his input in the interview considering how bad most post-race running interviews tend to be in track and road racing.

        At least with the Roes interview, I didn't see distracting fidgeting. What I saw, as someone who has had plenty of both successful and disappointing races (like Bryon), is an interviewer who was empathetic about asking Geoff to talk about the race he just lost. It's hard to ask someone who just lost a big race to talk about their race without it seeming like you are kicking someone when they are down. Bryon did a good job of getting someone who doesn't lose often to talk at length about their race.

        1. DaveB

          Ben,

          You are absolutely correct. I think Patrick and I agreed that Bryon is doing a great job, and we were giving our professional opinions about minor issues. It's awesome that we have Bryon and iRunfar JUST AS THEY ARE.

          Dave

  13. HEINI

    in the whole spanish sport is dope alberto contador,the national soccer team,the cross runners when you read the european newspapers its only about the spanisch arts fuentes and his sporters

  14. vidalonso

    I want make aclaration. Miguel Heras isn´t vinculed with EPO. Your brother, Roberto Heras, exclicist yes has benn vinculed. I needed make this aclaration, from Tenerife, Spain. Thank you.

  15. Carlos

    http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/12/news/fuent

    Spain is at the epicenter of doping these days; so to say that someone from Spain whose brother has been convicted of doping offenses is definitely clean would be a mistake. Moreover, Mr. Heras is admittedly very close to his brother and, therefore, it is reasonable to infer he knew about his brother's doping. In turn, it is equally fair to say that Miguel implicitly approved of the doping because he said and did nothing when his brother subsequently denied doping.

    In sum, its a shame that the ultra races cannot dope test the top 5 or 10 finishers.

    1. Gloria

      Which is a shame is to read all of this offensive things. Yes, Miguel Heras is Roberto´s brother, SO WHAT?? Does it mean that he is guilty, then? Miguel is very proud of being his brother, and he is as close to his brother than to his other two brothers.

      Which is a shame is that his family is suffering thanks to people like you, people who don´t have any moral principles to write things like this without any prove. I remember you (I may say: I discover you) that he has made many dope tests in other races (yes, he´s not a begginer, he has won many races before…), and never no-one in Europe has questioned his integrity.

      Which is a shame is that a man like Miguel, honest, hard-working, discreet,a very good sportsman but a better person has to read things like this.

  16. Carlos

    I am not saying Mr. (Miguel) Heras doped. I am saying that (1) to declare him clean in the face of rampant Spanish doping (as set forth in the attached article) and the confirmed doping of his brother would be a mistake and (2) its a shame that the ultra races cannot dope test the top 5 or 10 finishers.

    This is what Roberto Heras said in 2006 when confronted with a positive test which was later confirmed thru additional sample testing:

    "I never doped myself," he said. "I didn't do it during the Vuelta nor at any other time. I've always won cleanly."

    1. Anonymous

      Carlos,

      Miguel Heras es todo un modelo de deportita a seguir. Y mas importante es que gracias a sus exitos, fruto de su sacrificio, disciplina y entrega, nos motiva a salir a entrenar cada dia llueva, nieva o haga sol. Acusaciones sin fundamentos nos duelen y estan lejisimos de ser propios de un comportamiento deportivo. GAS A TOPE MIGUEL!!!!

      Girona.

      1. Carlos

        If he is, and has always been, clean, this is a great tribute to Mr. (Miguel) Heras because seeing his brother's results and certainly knowing how his brother achieved those results must have generated great temptation. Remember, many of the athletes who have been caught doping, whether it be R. Heras, T Hamilton, I Basso, F. Landis, etc., were previously perceived as solid sportsmen of a humble nature, and all cite their incredible work ethic and past victories as "proof" they were always clean. Again, I applaud Mr. (Miguel) Heras if he did not yield to temptation within the sort of "sporting" environment which exists/existed among elite athletes in Spain and even closer in the form of R. Heras.

        1. Anonymous

          Perdón por no escribir inglés pero me resulta más cómodo así. Mira Carlos, NADIE, absolutamente nadie que no sea bueno en un deporte lo va a ser a través del dopaje. El problema muchas veces de tener un médico es que éste te lleve al límite de la legalidad, pero te repito que para eso, previamente has de ser bueno y tener unas condiciones físicas impresionantes. Ni siquiera cualquiera vale para doparse, como parece que tú piensas.

          De todas formas, como no es ese el tema, no me parece bien dudar de la falta de ética de nadie sólo porque se es libre de opinar. Por no tener, Miguel no tiene ni médico personal, y es hasta reacio a tomar un antibiótico cuando le duele la garganta. En fin, que buena gana de entrar al trapo, está claro que la ignorancia lleva a esto… Quizá si le conocieras un poquito más (por supuesto, no como persona, que te avergonzarías de lo que estás diciendo) como deportista, te darías cuenta de su gran calidad, espíritu de sacrificio e increíbles condiciones físicas.

          1. Bryon Powell

            Google translation with some touch ups:

            Sorry for not writing in English, but I find it more comfortable this way. You see Carlos, no one, absolutely no one that is not good in a sport is going to be good through doping. The problem often is having a doctor that takes you to the legal limit, but I repeat that the athlete previously has to be good and be in impressive physical condition. Not even anything works for doping, as you see to think.

            However, as this is not the issue, is does not seem right to doubt a lack of ethics on the part of someone just because you can speak freely. Miguel has no personal physician, and is even reluctant to take an antibiotic when his throat hurts. Anyway, good win to get the bait, it is clear that ignorance leads to this … Maybe if you knew a little more (of course, not as a person, who will be ashamed of what you're saying) as an athlete, you'd realize it is high quality, spirit of sacrifice and incredible physical condition.

            1. DavidP

              Three or four days since i haven´t read irunfar´s comments and it seems some things never change.

              Carlos, i understand your comments from your point of view.

              Right now spanish athletes are really hungry with dope situations. They feel they´ve been attacked with no proofs.

              But that´s not "our" point.

              We said before trail runnin is the "poor" brother of runnin, which also is a "poor" sport. It´s not worthy get into troubles for such a thing like that.

              You say it´d be very easy for Miguel to dope because of his brother…. we´d need more than a sentences to talk about cycling in Heras´ years. It´s not black or white….

              As Gloria said you don´t know Miguel, neither do i but i wish, i just met him in Zegama this year.

              Above all Miguel has been racing trail runnin for the last 2 years.

              EVERYONE who knows him respects his efforts and topclass. He´s the kinda guy when you listen to him you discover the kind of man he is.

              http://tenerifetrail.blogspot.com/2010/07/1-parte

              He comes from Raids. Long efforts, no rests, suffering like a fucking dog (this is a Spanish talk ?!) and this 2010 has been his first year completely trailrunning.

              Amazing year. Lots of victories, always on podium. Bunch of hard work behind him, man. No one has discussed about his class. Be more sportmen!!!! You should respect that, like it or not that he won that race…. Americans can not win ALL races!!!!!

              He has a family and they don´t deserve this. Believe me.

              Saludos

              DavidP

              wwww.corrersinsentido.blogspot.com

  17. Tony Mollica

    Thank you for the great interview Bryon! Nice teamwork between you and Eduardo too!

    I like seeing both the subject of the interview and you in the picture. From my point of view it is a conversation between two trail runners about trail running. I also like hearing both Miguel speaking Spanish, and Eduardo translating. I would prefer that you keep the translator's voice even if you find a way to transcribe the text. I don't think it's necessary to have the translator on screen; however I'm fine with whatever you choose to do. I'm happy everytime I check mt email and see that I have a new post from iRunFar!

    Keep up the fantastic work!

  18. Carlos

    Textual response:

    "You see Carlos, no one, absolutely no one that is not good in a sport is going to be good through doping."

    Agreed. All else being equal, the folks that dope and win usually work just as hard as the other top athletes that do not dope, and even harder given that the dope provides an uber capacity to train much harder — the principal benefit of doping being the freakish capacity to train and recover.

    "The problem often is having a doctor that takes you to the legal limit, but I repeat that the athlete previously has to be good and be in impressive physical condition. Not even anything works for doping, as you see to think."

    I do not know where you gleaned from my previous posts that I believe "anything works for doping." Doping helps dopers train and perform better than if they did not dope — plain and simple.

    "However, as this is not the issue, is does not seem right to doubt a lack of ethics on the part of someone just because you can speak freely. Miguel has no personal physician, and is even reluctant to take an antibiotic when his throat hurts."

    I do not know of his ethics or lack thereof. We do know of the ethics, and lack thereof, of the brother and of the "sporting" elites in that country (which lack of ethics are not confined to the brother or the country (see BALCO (US); Landis/Hamilton, et al (US); Basso/Pettachi, et al (Italia); Ullrich, el al (Germany); Johnson, et al (Canada); Botero, et al (Columbia) and on and on)).

    "Anyway, good win to get the bait, it is clear that ignorance leads to this … Maybe if you knew a little more (of course, not as a person, who will be ashamed of what you’re saying) as an athlete, you’d realize it is high quality, spirit of sacrifice and incredible physical condition."

    Not sure what you mean here. In any event, I do not doubt he is of "high quality, spirit of sacrifice and incredible physical condition." Dude runs fast.

    Restated conclusion: it is unfortunate that that ultra races do not test the top 5-10 finishers, but understandable given the economics race directors face. Moreover, it would be very difficult for ultra RDs to detect autologous and homologous blood doping, a current popular choice of athletes that dope: http://www.wada-ama.org/en/Science-Medicine/Scien

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