Yoshikazu Hara of Japan has a 6:33 personal best for 100 kilometers and won the Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji this spring. Now he will take on some of the same great runners he beat Mount Fuji at The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. In the following interview, Yoshikazu talks about his running background, how he plans out his running year, and how he wants to beat Jonas Buud on the trails.
[Editor’s Note: Here’s our full 2013 TNF UTMB men’s race preview.]
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Yoshikau Hara Pre-2013 TNF UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Yoshikazu Hara of Japan and Koichi Iwasa is going to help translate for us today. Can you tell some about your running history or your background with running?
Yoshikazu Hara: I just started trail running for three years. I’m not very confident about running on trail.
iRF: How many years have you been running in total?
Hara: Twenty-one years.
iRF: Me, too. 1992. Were you a shorter-distance runner? When did you move to marathons or longer?
Hara: My favorite is 100k.
iRF: 100k—and you are quite fast—6:33, correct? How many years ago was that?
Hara: Last year.
iRF: You were at the top of your fitness. You’ve been a road runner for many years and a trail runner for three years. This year you’ve already won the Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji. You beat many great runners—Julien Chorier, Sebastian Chaigneau, Gary Robbins. How did you learn to run trails so well so quickly?
Hara: Yes. Mt. Fuji has a surface or elevation or profile that fits me. I’m not sure how I excelled in running trail. I’m not quite sure.
iRF: So this weekend you have a lot of trail. You have 160k on trail. What have you done to prepare for the Alps and the trails?
Hara: I’m not quite confident in summer races like August and September.
iRF: Why is that?
Hara: Too hot.
iRF: Summer is too hot? So you don’t train much in the summer?
iRF: Same in the United States. It’s very hot in many places. I’ve taken my off-season. In the United States… you’re a doctor? Physician? Medical doctor?
Hara: Respiratory doctor.
iRF: In the United States, doctors work many, many hours. Is it the same in Japan?
iRF: And you have a family?
iRF: How do you find the time to train and to be in such good shape?
Hara: In the week days, I can just do commuting runs from work and home. That’s all training for me.
iRF: How far is that one way?
iRF: 10k in the morning and 10k at night?
iRF: On the weekends, what does your training look like? How long do you run?
Hara: In the past two months, I did eight long runs in the mountains. The distance was about 50k and the vertical was about 3,000 meters gain (each run).
iRF: So a lot of gain in your long runs. Are you feeling strong?
Hara: (nods head as if not sure)
iRF: I don’t know what the food is at races in Japan, but are you having your family bring you food you can eat like in Japan or are you going to eat the food at the aid stations here?
Hara: Basically I have some small gels like Honey Stingers, some sport drinks that his wife and his kids prepare for him at the aid stations.
iRF: Just to give you more gels and more drink?
iRF: No real food? Not solids?
Hara: I’m okay with just gels and sports drinks.
iRF: You’ve beaten many of the world’s best runners at Mt. Fuji. You’ll be racing many of the same runners here—Chorier, Chaigneau, Robbins—on the terrain they are used to. Is that intimidating or are you looking forward to racing them again?
Hara: I just want to have fun and run with them. I have no strategy. I’m not trying to beat them. I just want to enjoy and run with them.
iRF: You had a strong history with road running and now you’re running more trail races. What attracted you about the trail? What makes you want to run here rather than IAU 100k?
Hara: I was competing with Jonas Buud who ran here last year and was very good last year. He is a very good road runner. I have been beaten by him many times on the road.
iRF: Now you’re on the trail. Why trail?
Hara: I want to try to beat him on the trail. I’m not very sure I can do that. I want to see if I can beat him.
iRF: You’ve raced Jonas Buud many times. You couldn’t beat him on the roads. You know he’s here, so now you want to beat him?
Hara: Yes, on the trail. I also know Mike Wardian who excels on road and trail.
iRF: Mike Wardian is not here.
Hara: He’s not here, but I want to race him again.
iRF: Maybe we can get him to come to Mt. Fuji next year. Wardian, he wants to race you at Fuji. Will you run Mt. Fuji again next year? Do you plan to?
Hara: Yes, Mt. Fuji next year.
iRF: Best of luck here and I hope to see you at Mt. Fuji next year.