Jonas Buud returns to the North Island of New Zealand as the defending Tarawera Ultramarathon champion. In this interview, watch Jonas recap last year’s race, explain the ups and downs of his 2016 racing season, his previous match-up with fellow competitor Jim Walmsley at the 2015 IAU 100k World Championships, and just how fit he thinks he is.
To see who else is running, read our Tarawera preview. You can also follow our live coverage of Tarawera starting at 6 a.m. local time this Saturday, February 11, which is 10 a.m. MST on Friday in the U.S.
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Jonas Buud Pre-2017 Tarawera Ultramarathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here in Rotorua, New Zealand. It’s a couple days before the 2017 Tarawera Ultramarathon. I’m with men’s defending champion, Jonas Buud.
Jonas Buud: Hi.
iRunFar: Hi, how are you doing?
Buud: I’m fine, thanks.
iRunFar: Is this the first race of your 2017 season?
Buud: Yes, it is.
iRunFar: Let’s talk a little bit about your 2016. Your 2016 had some high highs and some low lows. You had some great races, and you had a bit of injury and physical issues.
Buud: Yes, it started really great with Tarawera last year. It was a big success, that race. After, it was when the problems started.
iRunFar: What exactly was your problem?
Buud: It was, I think, the whole past season, I did too much competitions. It went well until after Tarawera last year. I ran Transgrancanaria in March. Just after, I think I was sick for some days, and then I could do some training, and then I was sick again. This continued for six weeks. Then in the beginning of June and end of May, I went to Comrades in South Africa, and I only had maybe 10 days in a row of training that I wanted to do. Then just before Comrades, I got sick. I didn’t know if I could start when I entered the airplane in Stockholm. I ran Comrades, but not so good. I came home and started to train a little bit more, and I was a little bit sick again. The spring last year was terrible. Then I was running Lavaredo Ultra Trail in mid-summer. It was an okay race. I was seventh, I think, there. After Lavaredo, I started to get some problems with my back. Then I started to do some more cycling and do something more except running. Then I wanted to run Ultravasan in the end of August. I started to get a little bit panicked. I wasn’t getting any better. It’s just the same problems with sick and pains and everything. Then I started Ultravasan 90k. I started knowing that I would not come to the finish because I had so much problems with my legs, so I would go maybe 20 to 30k in that race.
After Ultravasan, the plan was to run the [IAU 100k] World Championships as the defender there also. The training went okay some weeks after Ultravasan. Then I managed to do some really good runs, some really long runs, but all in all it’s getting better now. Maybe I think maybe 10 days before the world championships, it really pained my whole back. It was really stiff. I couldn’t hardly lay on the bed for some days. It was terrible. I also started to wonder what the problem was. Almost the rest of the week of the world championships, I just wanted to run some runs before the world championships. At the starting line, I knew it was going to be really tough to run 100k, but I had two weeks before the world championships felt I was in really good shape, so I gave it a try anyway. I started to feel pain after 20k at the world championships, but then it was getting a little bit better. From 20 to 30k, I thought it was going to be good anyway. But around 40k, it started to be really bad, so I quit the race. After the world championships, I got home and thought, Okay, I must do something. I got some acupuncture in my back and in just one or two days after, I felt great. It just disappeared immediately. Then I could start training. This was in the beginning of December, so I’ve had two really good months before this at least. So, I hope it will be enough.
iRunFar: It’s February 2017. It’s a fresh racing season. You’re healthy. You’ve been training. You won Tarawera last year. What was the motivation to come back to a race you’ve already won and you’ve already done?
Buud: I love the summer.
iRunFar: This is an escape from Sweden?
Buud: Yes, it is. It’s good to have a break in the Swedish winter to come and run and have some nice training and really good competition. I think this course is just perfect. It’s fast running. You can run fast almost the whole course. It’s perfect, I think.
iRunFar: You’ve arrived a little bit early. You were here some days before the race so you could do a little bit of adventuring before you begin tapering. What have you been doing?
Buud: I’ve been trying to reach the top of two volcanos but without success.
iRunFar: You got denied two times in a row, didn’t you? One time for weather, and another time…?
Buud: Yeah, I took the wrong way. It was just too steep to climb. It’s fun anyway. I’ve been out running some really nice courses and loops also.
iRunFar: You were down south of Rotorua in the national park exploring the volcanic highlands?
iRunFar: Camping there? Staying in a lodge?
Buud: Staying in a lodge for four nights. It’s been really good.
iRunFar: Getting an extra sample of the North Island of New Zealand?
Buud: Yes, I’m starting to feel prepared for the heat and the time change. It’s 12 hours different from Sweden, so it’s good to be here some days before the race.
iRunFar: It’s really good to be here some days before the race. Let’s talk about your race here last year. From an outsiders view looking in, it seemed like you had a perfect race. You were able to take the first half casually and then push when you needed to. What did it feel like from the inside out?
Buud: That was the plan. I knew the last part was better for me than the first part because it’s a bit faster and not so much hills. That’s better for me, I think. I didn’t know the course last year, so I took it a little bit easy in the beginning. It’s nice to run together with someone. It’s a bit more fun. I didn’t chase any course records. I just wanted to have a good race.
iRunFar: In the end, you started pushing over the last 40k or so. You were not chased closely at all. You won with 22 brilliant minutes, a little bit less pressure. Do you suspect it will go a little bit different this year?
Buud: Yes, I think so. There are some more really good competitors at the starting line, so it’s going to be really fun this year. It’s going to be a tough race for everyone, I think.
iRunFar: People out there in the wide world of trail and ultrarunning are talking about the rematch of Jonas Buud and Jim Walmsley. The two of you have raced before two falls ago at the IAU World Championships. Can you talk about that race a little bit? For you, independent of what you and Jim did, you had a remarkable day there. It’s a race you had four times finished fourth at. That time, you won. Talk a little about memories of your experience winning and then racing with Jim.
Buud: That year I had also injuries. I had my stress fracture at the beginning of the year, so I didn’t run or compete in anything before the end of August. I made my first long run three weeks before the world championships. I ran Ultravasan in my home town. I set a new course record there. The plan was then just to run Ultravasan, and then maybe I’d run the world championships. The main target was Ultravasan that year. I felt really, really strong before Ultravasan. When I finished in that time I had over there, it was, Oh, maybe I’ll go for the world championships also. That was a few weeks after Ultravasan. At the starting line, the plan was to do a good race with same speed from the start to the end. That was the plan. It felt really, really good. I had the same split times in almost every loop.
iRunFar: Over and over—it was within two seconds at times.
Buud: Yeah, it was really, really close. It was really nice. After 60k, he went up in the lead. He was running really fast for some kilometers. I thought, Okay, I’m keeping the pace I want to have. The finish time is about 6:22 to 6:25. It’s much faster than I’ve ever run before. If he can run under 6:20, that’s really good, but I knew that’s too fast for me. So, I let him go. He was running ahead of us for maybe 20k or something. I caught him again, and then I didn’t see him anymore. He’s a fast runner.
iRunFar: Yeah. When you listen to people talk about Jonas Buud in this community, people say that a fresh and rested Jonas Buud is a dangerous Jonas Buud. Would you agree with that statement?
iRunFar: Are you fresh and rested now?
Buud: Yes, I hope so. I haven’t done so many races since I’ve just been quitting the races. The last race I finished was Lavaredo, which was eight months ago or something. I think I haven’t competed too much for the last six months, so I think I’m fresh and rested.
iRunFar: Awesome. Best of luck to you out there on Saturday. We look forward to chasing you between Rotorua and the finish line.
Buud: Thanks. Yes.
iRunFar: Good luck.