While previously unknown in the US, Manuel Merillas made his American-soil debut… and made himself known in taking third at the 2014 The Rut 50k. In the following interview, Manuel talks about what his sporting background is, what he thinks of his performance in this race and improvement over this season, and what he might focus on next year.
Thanks for Kilian Jornet for serving as translator for this interview.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Manuel Merillas Post-2014 The Rut 50k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Manuel Merillas and Kilian Jornet, our translator. You finished third. Great job.
Manuel Merillas: I was pushing a lot the last part. It was really hard. It was really runnable all the race on a lot of levels. So, I really like the races where it’s a big fight to the podium. I’m really happy for the third position.
iRunFar: Did you enjoy the different terrain—the flat and then the steep and then the flat again?
Merillas: Yeah, it was a lot of different places like running and then walking and then technical and then running again. I really liked this thing to change all the time. I really liked the rocky part, the more technical. I’m better and prefer when it’s more technical and more walking.
iRunFar: You don’t train much on the flat running, do you?
Merillas: No, asphalt and dirt roads are not good friends. I train almost never on flat.
iRunFar: You’re a mountain athlete?
Merillas: Yes. I consider myself more a mountaineer. I prefer the climbing and practicing other sports in the mountains.
iRunFar: What is your background and your history in endurance sports?
Merillas: I started in football [soccer]. I started when I was 10 years old until 17. I was in the first division in Spain. Then I was in the categories there. I started running to train for that. I started running and running and enjoying more in the mountains until now.
iRunFar: Do you also compete in skiing?
Merillas: Yes, I have been doing three years of ski mountaineering. This will be the fourth season. I really like it. I started later in skiing but I like the competitions and touring around.
iRunFar: A lot of chasing Kilian?
Merillas: When I started, the models (inspirations) were Fran Pineda and Salvador Calvo, two athletes that really inspire me. Kilian is an objective to catch and also a model to follow.
Merillas: [says something in Spanish to Kilian]
Kilian Jornet: No, it’s not that difficult.
iRunFar: Kilian said that you’re new to going to these longer distances and that you improved through the season. Are you excited to go to next year and run in Skyrunning?
Merillas: Yes, for next year I’m thinking ski mountaineering through the World Cup and championship in ski and then for the running season, I’m more thinking to do the short distance and maybe not do the ultra distance. I have some projects and records and crossings. I want to learn every day and to improve.
iRunFar: Do you have any more races this season?
Merillas: The last one is Limone, and I’m also fighting for the podium in the short distance.
iRunFar: Good luck there. In the Skymarathon distance, yeah. Do you think you want to come back and run in the U.S. again?
Merillas: Of course. I would like to come over in America.
iRunFar: We hope to see you again. Congratulations on your great run and your great season.
Merillas: Thank you.
iRunFar: Bonus question. What is your favorite football club in Spain?
Merillas: I started with being a fan of Barcelona but now I’m more for one of the teams he was playing for.