France’s Nicolas Martin took second at the 2016 Transvulcania Ultramarathon and continued his trajectory of rising stardom in trail running. In this interview, Nicolas talks about making Transvulcania one of his two main 2016 objectives, his background with competitive trail running, and how he felt strong throughout the entire race.
Check out our results article for the full race story.
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Nicolas Martin Post-2016 Transvulcania Ultramarathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and it’s a couple hours after the finish of the 2016 Transvulcania Ultramarathon. I’m with men’s second-place finisher, Nico Martin. And I’m also here with Fred Bousseau from Trails Endurance Magazine who will be translating today. Congratulations, Nico!
Nicolas Martin: Thank you.
iRunFar: How are you feeling? It’s just a couple hours after the race finish.
Martin: I’m tired. I’m very happy for my race. This race was the first for this season, so I’m very happy to finish in the second position. I discovered La Palma is very beautiful. The race is very difficult, but the landscape is magnificent. The people are very passionate, so I’m very, very happy for this day.
iRunFar: This is my first chance talking with you and the first chance for iRunFar fans to learn about you. People in America might know you the person who came in third at the CCC last year and who battled with Americans there at CCC. Can you tell me a little bit about your background with the sport?
Martin: I played football (soccer) 15 years. After, I run for just pleasure for five to six times per week, but not for the competition. In 2010, I did the runs for competition. I grew step-by-step to finish second today. I’m not very talented, but I work very, very hard to have this level.
iRunFar: Maybe a little talented, too?
Martin: Yes, maybe for workout, I think, but not very talented, for a lot of runners in France are more talented than me, but I think I work harder.
iRunFar: When you aren’t running, what do you do for work? What is your job?
Martin: This winter, I work in a ski rental shop with Franck Piccard, the Olympic champion from Calgary in 1988. It’s a good experience. Now, I don’t work for training.
iRunFar: Now, you’re running only?
iRunFar: Lucky you.
Martin: Yes, it’s my dream. I tried for two or three years, and after maybe I finish the competition… I don’t know.
iRunFar: You mentioned before you started with endurance trail in 2010. We at iRunFar have seen you race in Europe over the years, but it seems like 2015 was a year in which your results were elevated. We saw you finish top 10 at Trail World Championships last year, and then be on the podium at CCC in the summer time, and then we also watched you finish second at Les Templiers.
Martin: Yes, and first with Benoît Cori at La SainteLyon.
iRunFar: Right. To what do you attribute your increase in performance levels this past year?
Martin: I think it’s part of a result of mentality. I think I have the will to be great, and so I take risks to be at the head of the race like today with Luis Alberto [Hernando] and Sage [Canaday]. Since 2010, I’ve increased the level of training year after year.
iRunFar: The amount of training or intensity or…?
Martin: Yes, in winter, the training is more intensity and short sessions. Now, I cycle a lot of hours in the week, 10-12 hours in the week. I run longer training in the mountains to prepare for Transvulcania. Now, I run a short race just one hour in our French Championships for the mountain running racing team.
iRunFar: The qualifier for the World Mountain Running Championships for France?
Martin: No, it’s the European Championships. The French Championships are qualifying for the European Championships. In the summer, another race is the qualifier for the World Championships in mountain running. I think it’s difficult for me to qualify because it’s another race and all the runners.
iRunFar: Lots of competition?
iRunFar: Nico, I want to ask you about your race today. Very early in the race, you looked super comfortable. Your body looked comfortable, and you also seemed very calm. Were you sure right away that it was going to be a good day for you?
Martin: Yes, it was a very good day for me. I was leading for the first kilometers, but it’s a lot of runners who were together. After, Sage lead the race, and I was with Luis Alberto. I was third in El Pilar. After, Sage lead the race and just two minutes between Luis Alberto and me at Roque de los Muchachos. After, Sage descended slowly, and I took the second place on the descent.
iRunFar: Did that happen early in in the downhill up high still?
Martin: Just at the beginning of the downhill Sage was two minutes in Roque de los Muchachos. After, Luis Alberto was stronger on the downhill, so I’m happy to finish second place.
iRunFar: Given what happened today, you have to also agree that this is your strongest performance so far in endurance trail running?
Martin: I don’t know. I think yes. It’s the first time in Transvulcania, so it’s difficult to know the trail. It’s not easy for me, but I hope the next year is better… I am better maybe.
iRunFar: You’ll come back again?
Martin: I think so.
iRunFar: Okay. My last question for you is given what has happened today, does it change your mentality in terms of who you think you can compete against and maybe what types of races you want to go to now?
Martin: I don’t know. The Trail World Championships are very important for me in 29 October. It’s a bit difficult for French Runners with Benoit Cori and Sylvain Court. The Maxi Race, the last championships, is the race to select other runners for Team France. We hope to keep our title at the team world championship. So it’s difficult to run other Sky Running, because I think three races are necessary. It’s difficult to run Transvulcania and two other Sky Races and the World Championships, so I chose to run in the World Championships. Maybe the next year I will try Sky Running.
iRunFar: Congratulations to you. I hope you enjoy the party tonight. I hope you enjoy being second place on an island like La Palma where now you become a celebrity.
Martin: Yes. Yes, it’s incredible. In France, it’s very different. In La Palma, people are very excited by the race.
iRunFar: Like nowhere else except maybe Zegama, right?
Bousseau: Zegama, or some places like in Chamonix for CCC, but it’s incredible.
Martin: In Spain, it’s special for the sport. In France, not a sport culture.
iRunFar: Not yet. Maybe someday.
iRunFar: Congratulations again, Nico.