François d’Haene ended his 2012 with a second-place finish at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championship behind Salomon teammate Miguel Heras. In the following interview, find out how he bounced back after racing the hilly Trailwalker 100k race only two weeks earlier, how his race went, whether he intends to defend his TNF UTMB title in 2013, and where else he might race in 2013.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
François d’Haene Post-2012 TNF EC 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with François d’Haene after his second-place finish at the 2012 The North Face Endurance Challenge. Congratulations, François.
François d’Haene: Thank you very much.
iRF: You had a very good debut here on American soil. How do you feel about it?
d’Haene: Yes, it’s a very good beginning for me in an unexpected place. I’m very happy.
iRF: Today you were second in a very strong field with all these top American and international runners. You’ve won UTMB. Do you really try to find the most competitive races in the world and run them?
d’Haene: No, for me it’s been an incredible and amazing season. All my races were very formidable. For me it’s the end of the season. I can’t dream so beautiful an end for my season. It is very nice.
iRF: I forgot to mention last week you ran the Trailwalker 100k — super hilly in Hong Kong. Did that affect you at all today? Did you feel it?
d’Haene: I think my recovery was very good. I don’t know if it was Beaujolais wine or anything else, but… Yes, I was very tired this week, but I sleep a lot and I train a lot. I tried to keep fresh for the two last days before this race. I just want to push myself during all the race for the best result.
iRF: During the race, some runners lost their way and went off course, but no one knew who had been off course. Did you know what place you were in for most of the race?
d’Haene: No, I don’t know my place; I don’t know where I am or how many miles I’ve done. It was very difficult in my head. I always think you must keep morale. You must eat and drink because it’s very long race. Don’t care about the other runners and maybe you can catch them and have a good finish.
iRF: At mile 30, there were a couple runners who had gone ahead and who had gone off course. There was still a group of runners: Miguel Heras, Mike Wolfe, Greg Vollet, Cameron [Clayton].
d’Haene: The fast American.
iRF: When did that group fall apart?
d’Haene: We passed through the finish line twice. When we passed through the first time, they said you are 20 minutes behind the leader. We say in our head, “It’s impossible,” because we are so fast – one runner, one runner, one runner. They run in group. It’s incredible, no? At this moment, the group exploded because Miguel wanted to catch them. I say, “Oh, it’s impossible – 20 minutes in so short time.” I think I could have a bad day, but I feel good. I ask the other runner and he said it’s impossible. So I say we stay calm and drink and eat and maybe it will be good. And as we thought, it was good.
iRF: It was. You ran a great race, a very smart race, and you were patient.
d’Haene: Yes, I had a very strong race. I’ve never run so fast in a long time because in France, the races are not so fast or so speedy; it’s difficult. With the young American, he was amazing. He passed me; I passed him; he passed me during the 10 last kilometers. At the end, he was just 100 meters behind me. I must always, always, always run. At the finish, I was totally exhausted.
iRF: Did you pull away from him when you were descending?
d’Haene: No, on the ascent. He catch me on the descent and I would catch him on the ascent. At the end, there’s a long flat section and… it was very terrible for him and for me. It was very amazing.
iRF: It’s the time of year when people think about next year. Do you have any races planned in America next year?
d’Haene: Yeah, I’d like to come to America maybe in April, but I don’t know, and “for sure.” Maybe in September for Run Rabbit Run, and maybe for UROC – I don’t know because I have my [vineyard] and September is the moment where I must harvest.
iRF: It’s wine season.
d’Haene: Yes, it’s wine season and I must be there. It’s why I try to make good planning.
iRF: If you have those races planned in September, are you probably not going back to UTMB next year?
d’Haene: Probably not, yes. Maybe I’d like to change because it’s three times that I’ve had the same preparation and the same summer. Now I have the possibility to discover other countries, other people, other athletes, other runners. Maybe it would be good for me.
iRF: Well, great. Wherever you run next year, I hope to see you a lot. Congratulations on a great year!
d’Haene: Thank you for all!
iRF: Thank you for your funny friends!