Well, we can now call 2016 the year of Caroline Chaverot. With her triumph this weekend, the Frenchwoman adds a win at the IAU Trail World Championships to her victories at UTMB, Transgrancanaria, and the Skyrunning World Championships. In the following interview, Caroline talks about what she thinks of her race and her season, how she was able to have a good race despite difficulties, what her offseason will look like, and how the French teams are able to perform so well at the Trail World Championships.
For more on how the world championships went down, read our 2016 IAU Trail World Championships results article.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Caroline Chaverot, 2016 IAU Trail World Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Caroline Chaverot after her win at the 2016 IAU Trail World Championships. Congratulations.
Caroline Chaverot: Thank you, Bryon.
iRunFar: How does it feel to be a world champion?
Chaverot: It’s amazing. I’m so happy.
iRunFar: Could you imagine that result?
Chaverot: Not really. Everyone told me I was prepared for it, but I knew it would be very tough. I knew there would be good athletes, and my season has been long. I didn’t feel that good the week before. When I was running, I was feeling good. I’m doing some heart check, and they were not so good. So I was not very, very optimistic, but I’d do my best.
iRunFar: And you did. You controlled the race from the start to the finish. How did you feel the first half of the race?
Chaverot: I felt really, really good. I had good legs. I felt really good, very quiet, and very comfortable. The only thing was I was breathing really hard, just some breath problems, and then it got worse. After 55k, I started to have problems calming my breathing. I was breathing so hard. Even one time I had to sit just to let the heart get slower.
iRunFar: Was that at a checkpoint?
Chaverot: No, it was before Lindoso in the quite flat section… no, after Lindoso. I had to sit because I was nearly losing my breath. I will just sit for one minute, and then it went very well and felt better.
iRunFar: When I saw you at Soajo at 64k, you looked like you were still moving well, but you’d had a good lead and it was very close.
Chaverot: It was melting. I didn’t know that.
iRunFar: When did you find out?
Chaverot: In the long, long way up after Soajo, suddenly I heard a woman’s voice, and I saw Azara García just behind me. I was like, “Gosh! Ahh! What?” It was like at UTMB. First I thought, Okay, I will lose the race. She’s coming faster than me, and I’m very tired and breathing really hard. I have no chance. Then I said, Okay, I’m still beyond of her. I’m not losing yet, so I have to fight to the end. The problem was I was breathing hard to stand on my poles sometime and… [demonstrated catching breath]. Then I said, Oh, it’s finished if I go that slow. Then I saw after I did four breaks like that and turned, I saw the gap between her and me had not shortened. I was optimistic. I said, Maybe she’s as tired as me. I will wait for the downhill and give all the effort I can.
iRunFar: The downhill went well?
Chaverot: Yes, great. She was not very good in the technical section. She’s a very good athlete. I think she does 1:16 in the half marathon, so she has a lot of speed. But in the technical she’s not so good. So I gave all that I had in the technical spot, and the gap went from one minute to five minutes in Mezio. I didn’t know that, but I could look back and I didn’t see her. After, I had just to push hard.
iRunFar: Do you think maybe having gone a little more slowly between the middle of the race and 60k let you have more energy at the end?
Chaverot: Yes, definitely. I thought about Ludovic Pommeret in the UTMB. Okay, maybe when you start slower, after, you can go faster. It’s not losing time. I was a little bit wiser because of that. I think it worked, but the end was really hard for me and all the girls, I think.
iRunFar: So the race doesn’t have to be perfect from start to finish to be a good race.
Chaverot: No, exactly.
iRunFar: Speaking of good from start to finish, your 2016 has been an amazing year.
iRunFar: UTMB, the Skyrunning World Championships, Transgrancanaria, and more…
Chaverot: Yes, it’s a dream. I never failed a race. All my races went well. It’s a dream season.
iRunFar: Is this the end of your season?
Chaverot: It’s the end of my important season. I will rest a little bit and then train. I go to Hong Kong because I was invited there and I said, “Okay, I will go.” I will do the race, but I will not put that much that much energy in the race. I will take it as a training.
iRunFar: That’s in December?
Chaverot: Yes. But it’s not a goal for me. It’s only a training and discovery.
iRunFar: Do you worry at all about having had so many races this year and running them all so well that you might need a longer break than usual before next season?
Chaverot: I don’t think so. I feel tired because I didn’t sleep that night, but I’m sure in some days I will be in good shape. No, I don’t think so. Everybody tells me that. “Be careful when you do so good season, the next season will be awful. You will be tired. Look at some people who did that.” I think I’m optimistic. If I take care of my health and I rest and train correctly, there’s no reason I couldn’t do well the next season.
iRunFar: What does your off season look like?
Chaverot: I train from my work. I try to do some quality training and also other sports like cross-country skiing, skimo, walking, and different stuff.
iRunFar: Do you do fewer kilometers per week for any months?
Chaverot: I don’t really check at the number. At the mountain where I train, there’s a long uphill. Sometimes I run for four hours and only do 20k.
iRunFar: Is there a period of a few weeks or a few months where you do fewer hours per week?
Chaverot: No, for the next two or three weeks I won’t train. I will run, but as I feel.
iRunFar: No focus, no looking at the watch?
Chaverot: Yes, it’s great because I have time to work, and I have time for my kids.
iRunFar: You take a mental and physical break.
Chaverot: More mountains. Not always saying… you know when you do some quality training with really hard sessions, even in the morning when I train at noon, I’m thinking about that. Oh, that will be tough to train. It’s good to just go running without thinking about training.
iRunFar: The opposite side of that, you could just always go enjoy the running. What makes you want to push the training and to compete?
Chaverot: I think it’s my nature. In every sport I do, even non-competitive. I was a rock climber, but I never competed, but I wanted to be a very good rock climber. I also had this experience of wanting to do well and wanting to improve myself. I think it’s my personality.
iRunFar: Congratulations on a great season and a world championship and a team world championship.
Chaverot: Yes, it’s great.
iRunFar: The French teams at the world championships were just so good.
Chaverot: Yes, the men were amazing—five in the top 10. I was so happy for them.
iRunFar: And the women, three in the top 11. What do you think makes the French teams so good?
Chaverot: We have good people taking care of us. We go along very well together. We did a week together near Nice in the south of France. It was amazing. The atmosphere was really fun. We do joking all the time, whistling, very nice personalities. We are all focused and motivated and getting well along. I think that counts.
iRunFar: Excellent, well, thank you very much, and see you again soon.
Chaverot: Thank you.