Sébastien Chaigneau is the reigning Hardrock 100 champion (post-race interview). After running 24:25 in the counterclockwise direction last year to reset the course record previously held by Karl Meltzer, he’s back to give the clockwise direction a go. In the following interview, Seb talks about what he remembers most fondly from last year’s race, why he doesn’t feel any pressure as the reigning champ, what sort of problems he’s had racing this year, and why running with Joe Grant is his goal for this year’s Hardrock 100.
For more on the race and links to other resources, check out our Hardrock preview.
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Sébastien Chaigneau Pre-2014 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Seb Chaigneau before the 2014 Hardrock 100. How are you, Seb?
Sebastien Chaigneau: Well. For a moment, well.
iRunFar: Well, for a moment. Well, for a few days. It’s beautiful here.
Chaigneau: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
iRunFar: You won last year. You had a wonderful race.
Chaigneau: Yes, it’s all done. It’s all done.
iRunFar: Yes, but what is your best memory? You’ve had a year for it to age like good wine.
Chaigneau: I think it’s pacing with Scott [Jurek]. Ahh, amazing. Amazing. 80k with Joe [Grant] and after 80k with Scott. And the last part of the race with Scott—amazing, amazing.
iRunFar: What was the amazing part of that?
Chaigneau: The last miles when you arrive in the center of Silverton and he says, “Voila, it’s the new record.” It’s incredible and just this moment it’s amazing and you take time for taking pleasure and for listening to the new day and to listen to everything. It’s amazing.
iRunFar: You had a large enough lead that you actually got to enjoy those final miles. You weren’t sprinting into Chamonix.
Chaigneau: Yes, because for this race, it’s never finished. Just it’s finished in the finish line because all of the other race, it’s complicated with altitude, with technical roots, and singletrack, and rain, and animals. I think the finish line is the time for taking pleasure and keeping under.
iRunFar: When you crossed the line you were so joyous.
iRunFar: You do come in as last year’s champion. You have race number 1. Do you feel pressure?
Chaigneau: No, because I have just one explanation—it’s not a race, it’s a run. Just for that it’s different. You have the connection with the globality of the other runners. You have the connection with strong runners—Kilian [Jornet], Timothy [Olson], Joe, Julien [Chorier], and the others. But you have not the same condition in the other races. It’s different. The connection is more interesting because it’s more of sort of training. It’s not a race.
iRunFar: No. So do you think you’ll be… I know a few years ago at Mont Blanc it was you and Iker [Karrera], and Kilian, and Miguel [Heras]…
Chaigneau: It’s the same. It’s the same. It’s the same and with the manager says, “Oh, go fast, go fast.” “No, I’m so good. I take pleasure. What I want? Yes, I win the race, no problem, but I take my time for a moment.”
iRunFar: Last year you ran with Joe Grant a lot. Were you able to… I mean, we’re at high elevation and the climbs are very steep. There’s no talking on the climbs?
Chaigneau: No. Impossible. Last year it’s very special because I stay in the wait list during six or seven months. I received the acceptation of the bib in July 5 for the race on July 12. It’s very short, but I take the decision on June 27 and I take the plane and come. I say, “After, if I don’t run, I make pacing and I see.” I prepare the race in two weeks because before I don’t know if I run, if I travel, if I go to Colorado. I think it’s better. Great result. I’m so happy. This year, I take more time. I take three weeks. I organized a trip with Joe this year. One week to Boulder and around Boulder with Longs Peak and Indian Peak[s] with different summits for acclimatization. The second time to Leadville and the 14ers. I made five or six summits of Nolan’s. It’s amazing and I take the test for the future. Yes, I think so. The last time I come to Silverton to make the preview with Joe. I take pleasure. I made a lot of kilometers and a lot of elevation, but I take pleasure.
iRunFar: It’s not training.
Chaigneau: Yes. I see a lot of animals—a very big bear just after Ouray in the valley, 200 or 300 kilos, very big black bear. Joe says, “Oh, it’s the first time when I see this size. It’s so big.” Lot of elk, moose, lots of animals, marmots…
iRunFar: And Joe.
Chaigneau: And Joe.
iRunFar: You’ve run a few races already this year. You’ve had some troubles, some problems in the races. What has gone wrong?
Chaigneau: Yes. It’s surprise. It’s surprise. Yes, the first part of the year after the Transgrancanaria, I take degradation and have rhabdomyolysis.
iRunFar: You had rhabdo? Okay.
Chaigneau: Yes, very, very complicated. Just two or three weeks after, I take the mono [mononucleosis]. I don’t know. In Japan I have no force, no power, no nothing. I test, but my body does not respond. I don’t understand why. When I came back from Japan, I made a lot of exams and it says lots of answers. Hemoglobin and everything is bad. I take the time for recovery and I go slowly time after time. It’s strange because when I arrived to the U.S. three weeks ago, it’s the first three weeks when it’s the possibility to train three weeks along without bad day. It’s a good thing.
iRunFar: So you feel good now?
Chaigneau: Yes, but surprised. I don’t know.
iRunFar: You’re the champion, but there are a lot of great… on Saturday morning you’re no longer the champion. If someone other than you were to win it, who do you think is most likely?
Chaigneau: I think the first objective is the globality and the finish line. The second thing, if I have the very great sensation, 24 hours is great objective. After, if the best, best is 24 hours with Joe.
iRunFar: Best of luck.
Chaigneau: Thanks a lot.
iRunFar: That’s the perfect segue to what I was going to ask as the bonus question. Joe Grant—describe Joe or your connection with Joe because…
Chaigneau: It’s a multi-language people/guy with an English, French, American—it’s bigger, a lot. So, nature and I think it’s so humble. Just for that I love Joe. I think if I have possibility, if my body give the possibility to stay with Joe all over the race, I stay with Joe.