After winning Transgrancanaria last year, Gediminas Grinius came back to the race and finished a close second to last year’s runner-up Didrik Hermansen. In the following interview, Gediminas talks about how he battled Didrik late in the race, why he took longer than normal in aid stations, who his countryman Vaidas Žlabys (8th) is, and where he’ll be racing in the second part of his 2016 season.
For more on what happened at the race, check out our 2016 Transgrancanaria results article.
Gediminas GriniusPost-2016 Transgrancanaria Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Gediminas Grinius after his second-place finish at the 2016 Transgrancanaria. How are you doing, Gediminas?
Gediminas Grinius: I’m doing well. How are you?
iRunFar: I’m doing well. You didn’t win this year like you did last year, but you ran faster. Are you happy with your race?
Grinius: Yeah, actually, I’m very happy for me and Didrik [Hermansen] because we are friends. It’s nice to see your friends… supporting them… of course, I’d like to win as well, but it’s better that it’s someone I know, a friend. Didrik and I are friends, so I like it.
iRunFar: The race itself was very dynamic. Aurélien Collet went out in front, but then there was a group of you that moved around a lot. Were you racing for many of those kilometers or were you just around people?
Grinius: Yeah, I was just around the people. I tried to stay calm and apply my race just to be in good shape at Roque Nublo and try to push from Roque Nublo if I have power in my legs. This is actually what happened. Not everything went according to the plan, but I stayed with Vaidas [Žlabys], my countryman for 50k. After that I joined the group of Diego [Pazos] and Andy Symmonds, it was very good to run with them because it was a normal pace which I was accustomed to. Later in the race from Roque Nublo I was just having to fight Didrik and Aurélien. Basically, the other guys were just left behind. I was very fast on the uphills, so the whole time I was ahead of Didrik. But the downhills, he just, poof, passed by me with no chance to get him.
iRunFar: If you weren’t on the course, you never would have seen that you two were fighting back and forth, back and forth. Was it stressful? Was it exciting? How did it feel?
Grinius: For me, it’s exciting because I like to fight. I saw that it was just a fight between us. As I said, on uphills I was stronger, on downhills he was stronger. As the race is, the last part of the race is purely downhill, so Didrik won this race, and I’m very happy for him.
iRunFar: Did you still try to catch him those last 15-20k?
Grinius: Yes, actually I had two thoughts in my mind. One thought was that somebody from behind was pushing as hard as me, and the other thought was, of course, just to try to catch Didrik if he had bad moments at the end. It seems he had very good moments.
iRunFar: When you passed Aurélien, did he seem like he could go with you or were you pretty sure you had him beat?
Grinius: Actually, no. From the race start I thought Aurélien would win the race, because he’s a super strong guy, but when I passed him, I saw that he had some problems. He told me that he hit a stone and his feet is not feeling right. In Ayagaures, I saw that Aurélien was out of the game.
iRunFar: You said your race didn’t go exactly as planned. It never does, but what went wrong?
Grinius: Actually with this race, I was surprised because it was different from other races. I fell so many times. I twisted my ankle maybe twice. I thought, Oh, it’s no good. Maybe I won’t be able to continue the race, but after awhile the feet warmed up and everything went well.
iRunFar: Was there any reason you were tripping? Was it nighttime? Was it shoes?
Grinius: No, it was nighttime and I basically hit the stones fast on steep downhill to… I don’t remember the place… but anyway a fast, steep downhill. I just fall down. It was brutal. Seth Swanson just stopped and look at me, “Hey, man, are you okay?” It was really hard falls.
iRunFar: It’s great to hear that this is a major race, you’re with top competitors, and they’ll still stop.
Grinius: Exactly. It’s kind of family. Nobody is racing to win. If something goes wrong, they stop and give you help. It’s what excites me in trail running.
iRunFar: How do you think you ran so much faster this year than last year?
Grinius: I don’t know. I just discussed with Didrik how it happened. During the race I felt like I was running slower, and I still have more power than last year. But then I arrived at the finish line and the clock shows I was even faster than last year, like 40 minutes. I don’t know. I cannot explain that. Because the course was changed a bit, it’s more technical. But if you compare previous course and this course, it’s shorter (this year), but the level is the same.
iRunFar: Was it much nicer during the daytime? Was it cooler?
Grinius: I believe it was the same. During the day, the last part which goes to the south of the island is pretty hot, so I put ice on and did everything I learned in Western States to cool me down.
iRunFar: I know Didrik has reputation of being very fast through the aid stations. How is your time in the aid stations this time?
Grinius: Usually I’m fast in aid stations, but this time was a little unusual because I had a lot of stops in the bushes and in aid stations. So for the first time in my life, I stopped in the aid stations to eat the normal food, the solid food because I felt something was wrong with my stomach, and I figured I was just hungry. So I stopped and had some potatoes and soup, and I saw that Didrik was coming in and going out and I was still eating. Then I pass him again on the climb to Nieves, but he was faster.
iRunFar: But it was worth it?
Grinius: Yes, it was worth it because after that I didn’t have any problems with my stomach. I lost maybe five minutes, but I maybe saved the race.
iRunFar: So can you tell us a little bit about—I don’t remember seeing Vaidas at a race—can you tell us a little bit about your countryman?
Grinius: Yes, he’s pretty much a very fast runner. He’s doing very well in the short races. I’ve never won against him in the last three or four years in the shorter races. In the long distances, he’s just done them for three or four years, and he likes to do the trails and he likes to do the roads. So he’s trying now to somehow combine with each other, while me, I just dropped the road running and purely enjoying the trail running. I believe in a few more years, more Lithuanians will come to the scene and we’ll have strong trail running.
iRunFar: What’s his last name?
iRunFar: On your schedule, what do you have coming up?
Grinius: Actually now… I divided my season into two parts. One part actually ends right now after Transgrancanaria. Now I have much more relaxed and easy just to have recovery, which I didn’t have after Réunion. Later, I’ll start another part, which will be Lavaredo, UTMB, and Grand Raid Réunion.
iRunFar: So, you have a challenging stretch coming up?
Grinius: Yeah, I have a challenging time. I’m looking at UTMG and Raid Réunion as my A-class races.
iRunFar: Awesome. Good luck with your rest. See you down the trail.
Grinius: Thank you.