Despite not finding out he definitely had a place on the start line of the 2013 Hardrock 100 until less than two weeks before the race, Frenchman Sebastien Chaigneau won this year’s Hardrock, breaking Karl Meltzer’s counterclockwise record of 24:38 with a time of 24:25. In the following interview, Seb talks about running with fellow competitor Joe Grant as well as his pacer Scott Jurek, his animal encounters on the trail, using trekking poles, and whether or not he’ll come back to defend his title in 2014.
[Editor’s Note: We also interviewed Seb Chaigneau before the 2013 Hardrock 100 and captured his finish on video.]
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Bonus: Seb Chaigneau’s Post-Race “Press Conference”
Sebastien Chaigneau, 2013 Hardrock 100 Interview Champion, Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell with Sebastien Chaigneau after his win at the 2013 Hardrock 100. Congratulations, Seb.
Sebastien Chaigneau: Thanks a lot!
iRF: How was your journey yesterday and the day before?
Chaigneau: It was an amazing day. Incredible. I passed 80k with Joe Grant. After, he had a little problem and he stopped in Ouray. I picked up my young pacer (Scott Jurek). After, he make amazing pacing. It’s incredible. I finish in great time. It’s great.
iRF: I know before the race you were talking about how you were looking forward to spending time with other runners in the race. You did spend 80k with Joe. What was that like? He speaks French. I assume you spoke in French.
Chaigneau: It’s very important because he proposed to discover the country—his country. He explained in different attitude with the animals—the wild animals. I see a lot of animals. When you pass them it’s more easy to look at the animal. It’s great moment because it’s fusion with another racer. In this moment I explain to Joe that I don’t make a race, I make a jog.
iRF: You two, together, sometimes one of you would go out of an aid station a little before, but then you would wait. You would stay together.
Chaigneau: Yes. Together about 80k. I take the time when he decide to stop to speak with Joe and I want to take a great decision. After I make my race.
iRF: What kind of animals did you see out there? Deer? Elk?
Chaigneau: Amazing. And moose.
iRF: You saw moose? Was it close?
Chaigneau: The baby. Yes, at three meters off the trail. Joe says, “Stop, don’t move.” Because you look at left and you look right and you move slowly because if the mom comes, it’s a very bad moment for us.
iRF: That must have been exciting. Scary.
iRF: You picked up your pacer, Scott Jurek, at Ouray at 90k. What was it like having him as a pacer? He knows and has won the race before.
Chaigneau: Yes, I think if I win and I made the new record it’s too Scott’s record because it’s amazing the power and he knows the world and he said, “You eat and drink! Go! Go! It’s good time! Go! Go!” It’s very amazing. It’s a good chance for me and good excuse for make a run with Scott. For everything it’s more better.
iRF: Not only did you have his knowledge while you were out there, but I saw you and him in aid stations together and you were relaxed in the aid stations and Scott was ready to go. “Two minutes! Go!”
Chaigneau: Yes. I says the first time he said, “One minute, then stop!” “No, please, two minutes. Two minutes?” “No, one minute and stop. It’s a race.” “Ah, shoot.”
iRF: So there was a difference between how long you wanted to spend there and how long he let you spend there. Is that the difference between breaking Karl’s (Meltzer) record or not?
Chaigneau: Yes. I think if I make a pacing before, I think it’s possible to make 23:50 or 23:58. I think it’s possible.
iRF: In the direction you went yesterday.
Chaigneau: Yes, in this direction. For the other direction and the other record, it’s not the same.
Chaigneau: Kyle Skaggs made 23:23 and it’s an amazing time.
iRF: Do you think you’ll come back here next year and go for it?
Chaigneau: Yes. I think yes. It’s in the other way. It’s a different race. Every year it’s a different race.
iRF: Thinking about your race this year, you had Joe with you to Grouse Gulch at 80k. Then you picked up your pacer, Scott Jurek, around 100k. You only had that one section alone. How was it from Grouse to Ouray?
Chaigneau: I stayed with Joe from Grouse to Engineer. I made 7k in solo. Just.
iRF: That’s it? All race. It’s amazing.
Chaigneau: It’s amazing. After, it’s a very great direction for me because the objective of this race when I take the bib is to run with the other. With the result, I run with the other.
iRF: You did. How were the flowers out there? Amazing?
Chaigneau: Incredible. Incredible.
iRF: Congratulations out there. I’m so happy you’ll be coming back next year.
Chaigneau: Thanks a lot. See you next time.
iRF: I’ll see you in Chamonix.
Chaigneau: Yes, UTMB. Thanks.
iRF: One extra question for Seb. At many races like UTMB you use poles (sticks). You didn’t at Hardrock. Why didn’t you use them?
Chaigneau: I used them. To the last part to Sherman to the finish line I take the poles in the last descent in my bag.
iRF: Not before that. Why not?
Chaigneau: I think I had more power. After for the last part it’s more easy during the night for sort of assistance for the last part to Chapman to the finish, Scott used the sticks. He says it’s not to the American spirit, but…
iRF: But some have them… I think Karl did one year and I think it may have been the year he ran fast.
Chaigneau: Yes, and more people use slowly time after time and it is a good help.
iRF: Will you use them at UTMB?
iRF: Thank you very much.
Sebastien Chaigneau’s Post-Race “Press Conference” Transcript
Press: Who was your pacer?
Sebastian Chaigneau: With Scott (Jurek). He knows the race. At all of the checkpoints I see Anton Krupicka, I see Dakota Jones, Krissy Moehl.
Press: They’re all out there. This is your first time running Hardrock.
Chaigneau: Yes, I tried the lottery for the first time.
Press: How many times have you put your name in the lottery? This is your first time? And you got in?
Chaigneau: Yes, after a long time because I won the bib and it’s very complicated (waitlist). I stay on the waitlist in fourth place from December 16. The waitlist didn’t change until the first day of June.
Press: So you didn’t know until June that you’d be running this race?
Chaigneau: Yes, six days ago I received the bib number.
Press: That’s amazing. Wow.
Chaigneau: Yes. But I stayed in June in the first place of the waitlist and no movement. I take the risk.
Press: Did you buy your plane ticket in advance? So you were hoping…
Chaigneau: Yes. If I have no bib, I may pace for one of the racers. But I want to make this race a long time ago, but I didn’t take the time to ask for entrance, but now I’m a Hardrocker.
Press: Any problems with the weather out there? Lightning? Pretty crazy?
Chaigneau: Yes. When I climbed to the top of Handies Peak with Joe Grant, Joe said (He speaks French. It was fantastic.) that the bad weather comes if the wind turns on top of Handies and it’s not easy. The wind didn’t turn, but after and during the night. Whoooosh! At the summit, nothing but very cold. But at the feet (valley), rain. Rain, no rain; rain, no rain.
Press: Who were your pacers?
Chaigneau: My pacer was Scott Jurek. He won in 2007. He prepares for the race in Leadville and it’s good acclimatization. 80k at 4,000 meters.
Press: So you only had the one pacer, Scott? When did he join you?
Chaigneau: Yes, yes. Ouray to the finish line.
Press: Oh, wow. That’s great. He’s familiar with the course.
Chaigneau: Yes, and it’s very interesting because I have the possibility to speak with the other racers and the best racers that Scott called me in France and say, “You make Hardrock?” I say, “No, for a moment I did not know (him) at least.” I say, “I think you run Hardrock. I make you pacer.”
Chaigneau: After, he posted a message, “How many kilometers?” “80k?” “Okay.” It’s not easy.
Press: At one point, it looked like you would set a course record. Were you thinking of that at all? You were very fast.
Chaigneau: No. The objective for the race was just one objective is the loop and running with the others. After, the record and the good place is just a consequence with the race and with preparations, but it’s not an objective. It’s strange because I am 41 years old, and during last two or three years, three years ago, I changed my vision of the race. Now I prefer to make the race or the run with the others racers without objective because I think it’s one objective… it’s in the spirit of the trail. In ultras, if you are not a number or a bib…
Press: You set goals? Run as hard as you can and that’s it? You just don’t want to put pressure on yourself?
Chaigneau: No. I come and if I finish five or 10, it’s the same. I run with the others.
Press: Do you think that mindset is liberating and makes it easier for you?
Chaigneau: After… I’m so old now for making a competition with the other. It’s very complicated.
Press: In Hardrock, age doesn’t seem to matter as much, it’s more about mental toughness.
Chaigneau: Yes. I want to come to the finish line to see different friends. One was Hans(-Dieter Weisshaar). Because if Hans makes the loop—73 years old—it’s a reason.
Press: A Frenchman (Julien Chorier) won the race three years ago? Four years ago? Are you friends?
Chaigneau: Yes, yes, but I don’t make the run of the race with the same spirit. He has an objective of the competition and very concentrated and very… but it’s not me to put there. It’s very complicated.
Press: Tomorrow it’s Bastille Day?
Press: What was the hardest part of the race—the most difficult part?
Chaigneau: The ascent of Handies Peak. It’s not easy. The first part is hard because you stay very high.
Press: The altitude?
Chaigneau: Yes, during long time, and after my descent.
Press: Did you feel sick?
Press: From the altitude—headache.
Press: Did you have any hallucinations?
Press: What did you see?
Press: What about the stretch after Ouray to Governor Basin. After Ouray it’s such a long, slow climb.
Chaigneau: You close the eyes and you run. It’s not easy. It’s very long with the cars.
Press: You’re on the road for a long time. You prefer to be on the steep.
Chaigneau: I think if Scott was not here, in the middle of that I’d come back to Ouray, and I stop.
Press: Did you think about stopping at all? Dropping out of the race? Where did you think about stopping?
Isabel Levionnois (Seb’s wife): No… He explained that it was really hard in the mountains. But he never felt the sensation to stop. That’s part of the pacing, in the second part of the race, the main part of your body is tired. His pacer Scott helped with that. But he never said he wanted to stop.
Dale Garland (race director): You can sit as long as you want.
Press: Did you say that you and Joe Grant were speaking French together?
Press: That’s cool.
Chaigneau: I know Joe long time ago. I think he has a good feel of me. I think it’s very important to speak a lot with Joe and to explain different thoughts for the U.S. and for the country… [obscured by background noise]
Press: Different mentalities?
Levionnois: It’s a different mentality… [obscured by background noise]
Press: Did you bonk much?
Chaigneau: Yes, in the last part.
Press: On the downhill.
Chaigneau: Yes. I don’t know why because it’s not high altitude, but very little, but had that sensation. I wanted to go down that last descent, but I ate very little. I think with the energy products over the day, over 24 hours…
Press: How about gels? How many did you have?
Chaigneau: I don’t know, 40, 45? In Japan (at UTMF) I consumed 45 gels for 100 miles.