Norway’s Didrik Hermansen championed the 2015 The North Face Lavaredo Ultra Trail and made a breakout into the international trail running scene in the process. In this interview, Didrik talks about how he moved up through the field throughout the race, what it felt like to take control, and when he was pretty sure that he was going to win.
Read our results article to see how the rest of the race turned out.
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Didrik Hermansen, 2015 TNF Lavaredo Ultra Trail Champion, Interview
iRunFar: Ian Campbell of iRunFar with Didrik Hermansen, the Lavaredo 2015 Men’s Champion. Congratulations!
Didrik Hermansen: Thanks a lot. Thanks a lot.
iRunFar: How was it for you? How does this rank in terms of wins and the best races?
Hermansen: It’s always fun to win. This was the first race which I actually was one of the favorites.
iRunFar: A little bit more pressure?
Hermansen: Yes, for sure. It’s a complete opposite thing to be a underdog which I was in Transgrancanaria earlier this year. This race was some of the same, almost the same length.
iRunFar: Similar length and similar sort of terrain, do you think?
iRunFar: And technicality?
Hermansen: Yes, I think.
iRunFar: You come from… you’ve done 100k and roads, you’ve done a lot of roads. How do you work that into mountain running? It’s quite different and different skills?
Hermansen: I have a hard time switching the effort. Actually, I think that’s one of the reasons I could win a race like this because when I’m running on the road daily, I keep my speed up. Today, I can speed up in the flat sections and the downhill sections. It’s a good thing, you know, against the other runners.
iRunFar: You sure had a lot of leg speed on the flats. I could see that for sure. What was your game plan going into the race? You started out in the top 10 pretty much all the time from the beginning. What was your game plan? The guys did go out pretty fast, didn’t they?
Hermansen: As always. My plan was to start a lot harder than I normally do. Normally I prefer to have a slow start, and then I speed up and catch up to runners. Today I was trying to push a lot harder. So that was a new thing. Yeah, I was perhaps number 10 in the first climb.
iRunFar: Yes, you were to the top in 10th and then came into about eighth in Ospitale. You were in pretty good shape there.
Hermansen: Yeah, I was pushing through the whole night I think. When I came to [Auronzo…]
iRunFar: Yes, at Auronzo, at the top. There you seemed to… then on the descent, you must have really pushed because I think you went from fourth to first.
Hermansen: Yes, and I was seven minutes behind at that downhill. I think it was almost 20k with that downhill and that flat road to the next [aid at] Cimabanche.
iRunFar: Cimabanche, yes. That section suits you because it’s downhill and flat.
Hermansen: Yes, so I was pushing really hard in that part. So I caught up to the other guys and by Cimabanche, I was leading. From that point, I was leading.
iRunFar: No pressure there.
Hermansen: No, it was too early. It was 67k, so it was too early for pressure. I heard Yeray [Durán] was just a couple minutes behind. I could also see him down at the mountain in some of the sections. I said to my wife before the race, ”If I’m leading at 90k, then I have a big chance to win.” At 90k I was up on the top and there was not much climbing left and with the downhill part at the end. At the last aid station at 102k, there I was 10 minutes ahead. A long race like this, 10 minutes is not big, so I was pushing all the way to the finish line.
iRunFar: One thing I did notice about you, and maybe it comes from your road background as well, most of the other runners will go through a checkpoint and they stop. You didn’t stop at any checkpoint. You virtually just pick up and head straight out. You must save probably two minutes per checkpoint. Over a race, that’s 15 or 20 minutes.
Hermansen: I don’t know what the other runners are doing at the checkpoints. I don’t see what…
iRunFar: You don’t stop. You tend to just fly through.
Hermansen: Yeah, I can speak with with my friend another time. “Hey guy, how are you doing?” You’re probably right, at least a few minutes or something.
iRunFar: You’re probably saving at least 15 minutes over the course. It’s a good strategy to take. How did it feel coming into Cortina with the crowds cheering? They’re really good supporters here.
Hermansen: Yeah, how does it feel? It’s just amazing. For me, it’s my first big international win, so for me, it’s just huge. Yeah, the crowd here in Cortina and also around the course was really, really nice. They were cheering at me and they were… yeah, all the way around the course.
iRunFar: That’s true. You do get a lot of support all the way around the course which is just great. After this, what are you going to plan to do? What are your next objectives? Are you going to take some time out or straight back into training?
Hermansen: I’m going to do a proper summer holiday.
iRunFar: A running holiday?
Hermansen: I always bring my shoes for sure. My next race is going to be UltraVasan in Sweden, 90k. It’s something between a road and a trail. It’s in the woods, but not too…
iRunFar: Not too technical?
Hermansen: It’s single paths, so it’s quite runnable. A lot of good runners are in there. It was the first edition last year, and it was a huge success. Max King is coming this year.
iRunFar: Ah, so that’s some speed you can race against. Max, are you watching? Look out!
Hermansen: He’s too fast for me.
iRunFar: What’s your marathon PB?
Hermansen: Me? 2:32.
iRunFar: Alright, okay, yeah.
Hermansen: I’m going in the long distance.
iRunFar: After UltraVasan, what’s next?
Hermansen: After Ultra Vasan, I’ll run in Winschoten in the World Championships 100k. After that, I need to pick out one last race.
iRunFar: A third race in the UTWT?
Hermansen: Yes. Perhaps it’s going to be Diagonale des Fous. Because I have two really good results now here and at Transgrancanaria, so it should be great to have a third one.
iRunFar: Oh, nice. Yeah, okay. You definitely want to take advantage of that. Diagonale des Fous is a great place to go as well.
Hermansen: Yes, it’s 40k longer than today and more steeps, but this probably means that I have to do a lot of running on my summer holidays.
iRunFar: When’s the holiday? It’s a working holiday. In terms of what’s a typically training week for you?
Hermansen: Both road running and trail. I’m running to the top and back home.
iRunFar: So you’re commuting running every day? Is that what you do?
iRunFar: You run to where you’re working as well? You’re running to and from work?
Hermansen: Yes, and then I run in the evening after the kids are asleep. It’s hard to be a family man.
iRunFar: You’re not a “professional” professional runner. You’re like the rest of us. We work and we try and fit in training, and it’s hard.
Hermansen: Yes. I think it’s a good thing. It makes me do other things rather than just running. I’m not working full time, but I have a job to think about. I also have my kids, and I think that makes me a better runner.
iRunFar: I suppose the children will be really, really excited and pleased with daddy.
Hermansen: They’re not here now, but they were yeah, “Whoo Whoo! Great job!”
iRunFar: You’ve already explained it to them.
Hermansen: Yes. My son is four and we have a… you know when you start 100-meter sprint?
iRunFar: In the blocks?
Hermansen: Yes. He was telling me before the race, “Daddy, you have to do like those guys do.”
iRunFar: That would have been different on the start line here. Didrik, congratulations on a superb win. Well done. I look forward to seeing you perhaps at Diagonale des Fous.
Hermansen: Thank you. Yeah, maybe I’ll be running into you some other time. Thank you.