Caroline Chaverot won Transgrancanaria last year, and is back to defend her title this year. In the following interview, Caroline talks about the challenges of running TGC, how she lacks confidence despite her dominating 2016 season, and why she will push herself to the finish line.
Read our Transgrancanaria preview to find out who else is running this year’s race!
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Caroline Chaverot Pre-2017 Transgrancanaria Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Caroline Chaverot before the 2017 Transgrancanaria. How are you, Caroline?
Caroline Chaverot: Very well, thank you.
iRunFar: You are the returning champion, and you were second the year before. You know this race pretty well.
Chaverot: Yes, it’s the fourth time I race because in 2014 I had to quit in Garañón, and then I did two times successful races. I really like this course. It’s very technical and very… I think it’s a complete race. You have to be quite fast because there are some quite fast sections, very technical sections, steep, and the temperature can change from 0-30 Celsius. That’s great!
iRunFar: You were saying earlier today, you were at a photo shoot up in the mountains, and it was quite cold?
Chaverot: Yes, it was 3-degrees Celsius with wind and even rain. It can be very cold. I have to buy myself some gloves. I didn’t take any gloves because I thought, Oh, okay, the island will be warm, but I think I’ll take gloves with me.
iRunFar: It’s cold there at the night start especially on the north side of the island—it’s windier, and there’s rain more often.
Chaverot: Yes, every year we have some fog and a little bit of rain sometimes. Maybe it would be a good idea to start in the south at night instead of in the north, but it seems we are supposed to run north to south. The end is very warm. Every year I suffer from the heat at the end.
iRunFar: This year, the race is even earlier than it’s been in past years. It’s in February. Are you prepared for this early in the season?
Chaverot: Yes, I think so. I had a long season last year with a lot of long races, so I think it trained me well. I went to the Canary Islands at La Gomera and Tenerife, at Christmas, and I could train really a lot. I did a lot of kilometers and [climbing], and at home, I had pretty good training. I was a little bit tired in February. I think I was a bit overtrained, so I had to rest, but yes, I think I’m prepared.
iRunFar: Did you take any long rest in there before February?
Chaverot: Not really. I don’t like to rest too much. I like so much to be outside. The spring was beautiful, so I always wanted to go out. So I didn’t rest as much as my coach wanted me to, but I think I am rested and ready and motivated.
iRunFar: You’re willing to listen to your body, so even if you were already increasing your training, if you feel tired, you’ll take a break?
Chaverot: Yes, yes, for sure. I am able to break, but sometimes it’s difficult because when it’s sunny outside, and I have a day off from my job, I want to train. It’s difficult, I think, to cope and to improve ourselves. To be world class, we have to train a lot, and the limit between good training and overtraining is tiny, and sometimes it’s difficult to motivated to do the right amount of training.
iRunFar: Do you think you have more of a problem doing too much rather than too little?
Chaverot: Yes, I think I always fear to do too little, so sometimes I do too much. Also with my job and my children, I’m very busy, so I cannot rest as much as I need to. Yeah, it’s difficult, I think, to motivate my level of training.
iRunFar: Can you just look back at your 2016 season and see how well it went? That was a pretty good basis.
Chaverot: Yeah, it was a great year. The problem with me is a lack of self confidence. I think sometimes it helps because it pushes me to do always better and better and better, but before a race I always feel that I am too slow, and I don’t climb enough. Even with my great year, it’s the first race of 2017, and I’m a bit nervous about that.
iRunFar: I hear what you’re saying, but last year you won everything, and I was looking, and maybe there was a 50k in 2015 where Andrea Huser beat you late in the year, but not a lot. What is it going to take for you to be confident?
Chaverot: I don’t know—maybe a second year like that? Yes, I know on the paper I’m supposed to have all the chances, but you know, in ultra, you never know. Maybe you can just fall or you can be tired or you can do some mistakes. Yes, I did a good year, and I have to tell myself that I’m perfectly able to race well today.
iRunFar: This is a course that you’ve had much success on, and you know how you’ve come in last two years. Do you feel as strong this year as you did coming into last year’s race?
Chaverot: Yes, I think so. The training, I increased. I’m better. I used Strava so I can compare. I did some improvement in my training, but after, I have to confirm in the race. Yes, it’s a race I really like. The difficult part is the end. Last year I did a great race, but at the end I was quite slow. This year I will try to do as well at the beginning, but I want to be less slow at the end. We will see.
iRunFar: That’s another question I want to ask you. Last year you won this race by quite a long amount, and you have a very long, difficult season ahead. Do you ever have a thought of not pushing so hard at the end when you have a huge lead?
Chaverot: I don’t think I will have a huge lead because Andrea improved herself, and so has also Azara Garcia who was pretty close to me at the World Championships—seven minutes. We had a really good fight. There are also other runners like Gemma Arenas that are pretty strong. I don’t think I will have two hours in advance. It’s not in my personality to say that if I’m in advance then I will slow down. I push myself to the end because it’s a race, and I’m a perfectionist. I want to do a good time, so I will push myself until the finish line, I think.
iRunFar: Do you enjoy yourself out there as well?
Chaverot: Yes, but sometimes during the race it’s not so fun. At UTMB, I can’t say I had a great fun. It was a nightmare more than fun, but I will try to have fun. Sometimes when you push yourself really hard, you don’t have really good fun. It’s just hard. But after, the fun comes as you have good memories and you say, “Ah, yes, it was fun.”
iRunFar: You look more toward being proud of your performance than maybe enjoying the course along the way?
Chaverot: Yes, it’s more like that. I enjoy the training. I enjoy a lot to train and to push myself in the training, but during the race, it’s more racing and not really having fun. Sometimes I enjoy the landscape or the technical descents. I love the descents. I always enjoy the descent, but then the uphill is really hard, and I don’t think it’s really good fun during a long race like that.
iRunFar: This winter, did you mix any other sports in with your running, or is it all running all year?
Chaverot: I ran a lot, but I also did some indoor biking and cross country skiing. My kids are in a cross country club, so when I bring them to the club, I train also for myself. I really love cross country, so I try to do a lot. I would like to do skimo, but it’s more complicated. It’s farther from my home, so I didn’t have the luck this year to do skimo. During the summer, I bike a lot. I really love biking.
iRunFar: Did you do any cross country racing for fun?
Chaverot: No, I would like to do Transjurasienne, it’s a very famous race in France, but I am a bit afraid because in skating, people take a lot of place, and for passing by people, I think it’s less simple than in trail running. I’m a bit afraid of the cold. I asked myself if I should do it or not. I don’t know.
iRunFar: Well, your season starts this weekend, and best of luck!
Chaverot: Thank you. Thank you. Bye-bye.