With his second-place finish this year, Julien Chorier has proven himself a formidable force at the Hardrock 100. In the following interview, Julien talks about what it was like racing Kilian, what happened to his back, how late into the race he was unsure of whether or not he would finish, and why he’d like to come back to Hardrock again. You can also watch Julien’s Hardrock finish as well as his descent off Grant-Swamp Pass.
For the whole story on the 2014 Hardrock 100, read our results article.
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Julien Chorier Post-2014 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Julien Chorier after his second-place finish at the 2014 Hardrock 100. Congratulations, Julien.
Julien Chorier: Thank you very much.
iRunFar: I know you won in 2011, but how do you feel about your accomplishment this year?
Chorier: This year was a totally different race because it wasn’t the same direction and a lot of very fast runners and the weather was not easy. It was a very incredible race.
iRunFar: You were near the front of the race for the first half. Coming into Grouse Gulch you caught Kilian [Jornet]. What were you thinking?
Chorier: It was nice because I can share some part of the race with Kilian, but I know Kilian run and work very easy and when he wants to accelerate he can. It’s what he’d did on Handies Peak. When we are near 4,000 meters, it starts to be difficult for a ‘normal guy.’ For me, I walk slowly and I see Kilian start running and go fast at the end and finish very fast.
iRunFar: So you’re at Grouse Gulch together and by the top of Handies Peak, he’s 12 minutes ahead. You might not be able to see him.
Chorier: No, for me it’s impossible. It’s not the same race. He’s an incredible guy.
iRunFar: So it doesn’t discourage you?
Chorier: No, no, no, I just want to take my own race with my pace.
iRunFar: You seem to do a very good job of that. Every time I saw you, you were in control of your effort.
Chorier: Yes, for me it’s a very nice race, always control. Just the last 20 miles, however, are very difficult.
iRunFar: When did you start getting into the rain? When did you get a storm?
Chorier: The middle of the descent from Handies Peak.
iRunFar: So Handies Peak down to Burrows the rain starts. Is it heavy? Lightning?
Chorier: Yes, very heavy. Lightning very near us. Very close.
iRunFar: About that same time, your back?
Chorier: Yeah, my back started to be painful maybe near Maggie’s. It’s bad and bad and after Cunningham, it’s very, very difficult. When I start to climb after Cunningham, I see the up and I ask my pacer, Brendan [Trimboli], “Whoa, it’s a very long uphill?” “No, just 2,000 feet.” 2,000 feet is 700 meters—actually, it’s incredible. I can’t go. I can’t finish because it’s very difficult for me just to walk. I try to walk five meters more, five meters more, and try to go to the finish line, but it’s very, very difficult.
iRunFar: So there were times at the end of the race that you didn’t know if you would be able to finish or did you know you would make it to the finish?
Chorier: No, the last 10 miles I’m not sure I can finish. Really. The last three miles I’m not sure I can finish because I am completely broken.
iRunFar: You were like this. [demos bent over]
Chorier: Yeah, I finish like this. It was very difficult.
iRunFar: It was pain and also you couldn’t run.
Chorier: I can’t run, no.
iRunFar: In terms of running in the other direction, you changed directions this year. How did you like the two different directions?
Chorier: For me, this direction is very better because for two parts of the race the very, very long downhill into Ouray is all downhill and very better because on the uphill it’s very, very boring to go 15 miles on a large road—the same after Engineer to go downhill before Handies Peak.
iRunFar: So you have steep, nice uphills before long, less interesting places are quick downhills. Do you have any favorite memories from the race?
Chorier: For me, it’s incredible to start the race with a lot of friends and go to Island Lake with the sun and so many people to support us and incredible landscape. For me, it’s very beautiful.
iRunFar: Early on, even at 15 or 20k, there were still seven runners within two minutes. Who did you get to talk to you while you were out there?
Chorier: It’s very nice because we can speak about all. I speak with Adam [Campbell] because it’s since two years our paths have crossed. We take some news about family and all. It’s very nice.
iRunFar: And you ran with Kilian. Who else did you get to run with?
Chorier: Yeah, Kilian, Timothy [Olson], Dakota [Jones]—it was very nice, yeah.
iRunFar: It’s incredibly hard race, but there are times where you still get to chat. It’s very long. You have time.
Chorier: Yes, but after we know and all runners takes own race and own pace and we have the time after. If some runners are better this day, he was in the front. It’s normal. There’s no strategy.
iRunFar: Do you think if you trained your best for a year and you had the perfect race, could you have run 22 hours?
Chorier: No, for me, my race was close to be perfect. I think I can run one hour.
iRunFar: One hour faster?
Chorier: Yes, just under 24 hours, I think it’s possible. After, under 23, I’m not sure I can.
iRunFar: I’m sure you were thinking about that out there. You were thinking about 24 hours. How late in the race were you still thinking you could break 24 hours?
Chorier: To be honest, never because I never think about my time.
iRunFar: Before the race and after the race, but during…?
Chorier: During, no. Just running and enjoy and be focused on the race.
iRunFar: Before your back started to hurt, did you have any low points during the race? Any places where you did not feel good?
Chorier: No, a lot of after 3,700 meters, each time is difficult, but I think for a lot of people it’s the same. But I am never low.
iRunFar: What is the biggest problem above 3,700 meters? Is it the effort or do you feel ill?
Chorier: No, just the effort. Just thinking, I’m slow.
iRunFar: Early in the race there are some fun downhills with loose rock. Did you enjoy coming off Grant Swamp Pass?
Chorier: Yes, I enjoy. I see your movie. It’s very nice. It’s like skiing down the road. Very nice. I enjoyed it.
iRunFar: Am I correct in thinking you want to come back to Hardrock sometime?
Chorier: Yes, I think I want to come back and maybe try one more time to break 24 hours.
iRunFar: What else do you have on your calendar for this summer?
Chorier: The GR20 record. I want to break it. Since one week, it’s not Kilian who has the record. Another guy has the record. After, in October, I go to Réunion.
iRunFar: It’s going to be a very strong race this year at Réunion—you and François D’Haene and [Tsuyoshi] Kaburaki-san wants to go.
Chorier: For me, it’s incredible. It’s one of two or three races that I think have the better spirit.
iRunFar: Tell me what you think about the spirit of Hardrock?
Chorier: It’s here. It’s United States. It’s Colorado. It’s big mountains. It’s a big race. It’s simply incredible. It’s into the wild.
iRunFar: It’s great having you here. Congratulations on a great race.
Chorier: Thank you.