The third man at the 2013 The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc was Javier Dominguez. Javier will agree with us when we say that few people beyond his home Basque region of Spain would associate his name with ultrarunning. That is, until now! In his interview with iRunFar, Javier talks about what it was like to run with (and in front of) some of the biggest sames in the sport, his background with trail running, and where his new fans (our words, not his) can find him racing next.
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Javier Dominguez Post-2013 TNF UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Javier Dominguez after his great third place finish at the 2013 UTMB. Congratulations, Javier!
Javier Dominguez: Thanks.
iRF: I think I feel pretty safe in saying that not many runners around the world know you. You were a surprise.
Dominguez: Yeah, but I don’t know all the people in the world anyway. You cannot know all the runners from the other countries. Where I come from, people know me, but it’s normal that I come here and nobody knows me.
iRF: Do you have any idea that you could run such a high place at UTMB?
Dominguez: I was expecting just to get in the top 10, but not the third place because for me to get a third position in this race is very difficult because there are a lot of great runners. For me, it’s unbelievable. I cannot believe it.
iRF: What do you think when you go past Julien Chorier late in a race?
Dominguez: I was like, “Oh, no.” That’s not… I thought I cannot do this. Normally I don’t do those kinds of things. Julien Chorier and then I passed also [Anton] Krupicka. So it was, “No, no, no, no, no.” I’m sleeping. I don’t know what. I was dreaming.
iRF: Day dreaming. How did your race go? Did you have any points where you felt really bad?
Dominguez: It was ok. I was doing my race because I didn’t expect what I was going to do. So I just take my pace and go and go and go and then the last kilometers, the last hours, especially going up, I was feeling tired, but I knew that I was third and that gives you a lot of power. I don’t know how to say.
iRF: You’re on top of the world.
iRF: You have that energy.
iRF: Did you have any other really good points earlier in the race? You felt you were moving very well and catching people?
iRF: Any one place? Any time?
Dominguez: What place did I feel good?
Dominguez: All the race, especially at the end when I was running through Chamonix’s streets. It was unbelievable. One thing I do remember of the day’s highs, it gives you a lot of motivation to follow and to keep running and go to races.
iRF: You’ve finished UTMB before, correct?
Dominguez: Last year, although it wasn’t the proper route.
iRF: Did it feel different crossing the finish line this year?
Dominguez: Yes, because last year was more… for me… the weather conditions were not so good and I felt sore. This year everything was perfect weather… the race… and the position…
iRF: What is your background with running or other endurance sports?
Dominguez: Normally, I do a lot of short races 30k, 40k and during the year 3 or 4 ultras. I started doing mountain races 6 years ago but ultra races like 3 or 4 years ago. The first time I did an ultra I got into the fifth position. I was like, Oh, I think I’m good at these. Anyway, but I try to specialize more in ultras and for me it’s really motivating and I like it a lot.
iRF: What have been some of your other best finishes in ultra trail? Your other top performances?
Dominguez: In the Basque country there is an ultra, a 100-mile ultra, called Ehunmilak, which means “100 miles” in Basque. I won this race three years ago. Then I won the short race, because we have two races—the 100 miles and the 50 miles. I did it last year; I won it. This year I also got second position one month ago. For me, that’s the best place I got. Also, I went to Zegama…
iRF: I was going to say, have you been to Zegama?
Dominguez: Zegama, yeah twice, and last year I did my best mark, which is not…
iRF: What place?
Dominguez: 23rd place. I mean, I’m not a top runner, but I enjoyed it a lot. Zegama is like being here, because there are so many people and it’s a special race. It’s nice.
iRF: It’s a great atmosphere both amongst the competitors and the crowd. Thousands of people last year there were. It was cold and rainy and there were thousands of Basque people along the course.
Dominguez: I was running and I was thinking, How the heck you can be here? It’s very cold. Anyway, it’s amazing because of all the people.
iRF: Speaking of Zegama and the Basque country, American and some other European trail running fans have seen a lot of Catalan/Catalunya flags and they know of Kilian [Jornet] and Nuria [Picas] and Emma [Roca]. How important is being a Basque runner? At Zegama, there were a lot of people crossing with Basque flags. Here, Basque buffs or shirts. How important is that to your community?
Dominguez: In the Basque country, we have our own identity. The same happens in Catalunya. That’s why we normally bring our flag to say to the world, “I’m Basque,” or “I’m Catalan or from Catalunya.”
iRF: It’s interesting because I’m looking at the web results for you crossing the line and it says “Spain.” I see the white, green, and red, and I say, “He is Basque, yes?” So I have to ask at the finish line, “Is he Basque?”
iRF: Do you have any other races that you plan to run this year?
Dominguez: Yeah, in three weeks I’ll do Cavalls del Vents, you know that race in Catalunya.
iRF: 80k ish?
Dominguez: Yes, it used to be 80k, but this year they have to change the road so it will be 100k.
iRF: 100k—are you looking forward to that?
Dominguez: Yeah, yeah.
iRF: Are any other top runners going to be there that you know of?
Dominguez: I don’t know. I don’t know. I haven’t seen the website. Last year it was part of the Skyrunning World Series.
iRF: There’s no Anton or Kilian this year probably.
iRF: Maybe you win this one?
Dominguez: No way. When people at work say… I say, “Last weekend I went to a race.” All the people, “Did you win?” “No, I don’t do those kinds of things. I just go for fun.” Sometimes when I go Monday—“Did you win the race?” “Yes.” “You said you don’t do those kinds of things.” “Well, I know, but sometimes…”
iRF: So now you can say, “No, I didn’t win,” but you had a pretty good race.
Dominguez: But for me, it was like winning.
iRF: This was winning for you.
iRF: Unbelievable. Congratulations on a great run. One bonus question for you, Javier. What’s your favorite Pinxto?
Dominguez: Tortilla de patata.
iRF: Potato pancake?
Dominguez: No, it’s a potato pancake with onion. That’s the secret.
iRF: Onion and potatoes.
Dominguez: Yes, that’s the best.
iRF: Have many of them this week.