Luis Alberto Hernando stepped down in distance to defend his Trail World Championships title in Badia Prataglia, Italy this weekend. In the following interview, Luis Alberto talks about how he chooses races, what he’s really focused on later this year, whether he thinks of this weekend’s race as true trail running, and what he thinks about next year’s Trail World Championships at Penyagolosa in Spain.
For more on what happened at the race, check out our 2017 Trail World Championships results article, which includes links to additional post-race interviews.
Luis Alberto Hernando, 2017 Trail World Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Luis Alberto Hernando after his win at the 2017 IAU Trail World Championships. Congratulations!
Luis Alberto Hernando: Thank you.
iRunFar: You have just won the world championships two years in a row. How do you feel?
Hernando: Good. I’m even happier this year. Now that I’m older, I feel even better, so I can realize even more than this world championships.
iRunFar: I saw you a little before 40k and you were in second, maybe two minutes behind, but I could see you would win. Were you relaxed for the whole race?
Hernando: No, to win one of these races is not even important. To feel well with myself and my body, but also to know that there are very good runners, and you have to know the other ones who are running because they are also good.
iRunFar: Now, you’ve won it twice in a row. You’re very strong. If you could race anyone in two months, who do you want to race the most?
Hernando: Right now I don’t really want to run anything. I’m trying to look for races that have notoriety and who have good runners. I want to maintain the same level—very good races with a lot of notoriety and that have the point of level I really want to reach.
iRunFar: What does that mean? Where are you racing soon?
Hernando: First of all is recovery because after this it will be quite hard, but after that, it’s going to be the European championships of ISF, and after that, UTMB.
iRunFar: UTMB will be a very high level this year. Are you prepared?
Hernando: I don’t like the races I know I’m going to win, so I really like to go to UTMB where I know it’s going to be hard to win. I’m going to do my best.
iRunFar: Would a victory there be a stamp of final accomplishment?
Hernando: Yes, I have only finished one of three times, so for me, it will be the best of my career because I know it’s one of the most difficult races. I never talk about a personal aim, but right now, UTMB is one of those personal aims I really want to reach.
iRunFar: It’s there.
Hernando: When there’s something I can’t reach, I really want to do it.
iRunFar: We’ll talk about UTMB some more in a few months. For now, this was the Trail World Championships, and you’ve run many types of races—many Skyrunning races and UTMB. Some people say this is ‘track’ or ‘athletism.’ For you, what does ‘trail’ encompass? What spectrum of races?
Hernando: Today I have been running around the mountain with the same feelings as when I’m up in the mountains, so it’s not only athletism. For me, it’s the same running here as an ISF race. Today, I had 45k, which were without asphalt path and 3,000 meters up and 3,000 meters down.
iRunFar: So, ‘trail’ is many things.
Hernando: Yes, for me, the organization is the same, and it’s not important if someone or another one is planning the race.
iRunFar: It’s the mountains. It’s the trail.
Hernando: For me, what really matters is the mountain.
iRunFar: You said you were more motivated today, and you had more motivation for this race this year than last year. How did that make you feel during the race? Did that make you push harder?
Hernando: For me, it’s very important to be motivated. I never go to a race just for walking or training. I really want to win. That’s why I came here.
iRunFar: Last year, you won, Luis Alberto. This year, you won and the Spanish team won. On paper, the French team was very good, but the Spaniards won. What do you think about the team victory?
Hernando: The years before, France, Italy, or the U.S. were pushing very hard, so they were the favorites. But from a couple years ago, we could see how the Spanish team was doing better and better. We are going to see how it will be more and more accomplished. We will not know which one will be the favorite in the next years. There will be a really good competition against them.
iRunFar: Next year I think the favorite has to be the Spanish team because you will be the defending champions and you’ll be running on the Penyagolosa course in Spain. Maybe we will see you there?
Hernando: I hope so. That’s what I really expect because for the runners, it’s the most amazing place to be running. That’s why I really want to.
iRunFar: Congratulations on your win this year. See you soon. Thank you.
Hernando: Thank you.