While Ricky Lightfoot cut his off-road running teeth on fell running in the U.K., his successes in the world of trail and ultrarunning have since expanded. This weekend he’ll be testing himself against some of the world’s best at the Grand Trail des Trempliers. In the following interview, Ricky talks about how he’ll hydrate in a race with distant checkpoints, why he won’t be running at full capability, how he’s likely to approach the race, and how this race’s team dynamic could come into play.
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Ricky Lightfoot Pre-2014 Les Templiers Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Ricky Lightfoot before the 2014 Grand Trail des Templiers race. How are you, Ricky?
Ricky Lightfoot: Great. It’s great to get some winter sun from the U.K.
iRunFar: It’s already winter up there?
Lightfoot: Yeah, it’s pretty cold and miserable. But yeah, we’ve had a good summer just the weather has turned a bit sour.
iRunFar: So these will be pretty hot temperatures come the end of the race tomorrow?
Lightfoot: Yeah, it’s really cold in the morning, but when 12:00 midday strikes, it gets really hot. I think hydration is going to be key in this race.
iRunFar: It’s interesting because the hydration points can be pretty far apart on this one.
Lightfoot: Yeah, they’re pretty far apart, but I think we have got to carry water, obviously, but I think they’re sufficient enough for a race of this distance which is 44 miles or something like that. So yeah, I think it’s okay.
iRunFar: You’ll make do?
Lightfoot: Yeah, I train anyway to run without water, so we’ll see.
iRunFar: So do you carry a handheld or do you have something like a waist belt or a backpack? How do you approach it?
Lightfoot: I’m going to carry the new Salomon pack which is basically a vest with two bottles on the front (two 500-milliliter bottles). I’m going to give that a whirl tomorrow.
iRunFar: Pretty lightweight, the new one?
Lightfoot: Yeah, it’s pretty lightweight. When you don’t need to carry a lot for a race like this, I’ll only be carrying the water and the equipment which is meant to be carried. Yeah, it’s pretty lightweight.
iRunFar: Which is pretty much nil. You have to carry the little card and a headlamp at the start.
Lightfoot: Yeah, exactly, so I’ll maybe carry a couple of gels just in case and I guess maybe a light jacket in the morning. I’m not sure yet. We’ll wait and see in the morning.
iRunFar: You’re based in the U.K. Have you raced in France at all?
Lightfoot: Yeah, I’ve raced in France a few times, the last one being the MaXi-Race in Annecy which up until about 70k I was leading. But with the lack of training and injury, the legs fell to bits and I felt awkward in my stride, so it was a struggle to finish.
iRunFar: Did you find the aid stations and the food and that sort of thing were similar to the races in the U.K. or quite different? For the Americans, it’s quite different.
Lightfoot: Yeah, I mean, the races in the U.K. don’t really have a lot of aid stations to be honest. You maybe get your water at only a couple of points, so we train to be quite self-sufficient for the race. I always set off with enough to finish the race in case there’s no food or what I need at the aid stations. In the MaXi-Race in Annecy, it was pretty well supported and the aid stations were amazing. It was good to have lots of support in the race.
iRunFar: Unfortunately, you’ve had a bit of a down year this year. You’ve been battling injury? How are you feeling now?
Lightfoot: Yeah, now I’m sort of three weeks back into running, but to come to a race like this with such a competitive field, it’s going to be difficult. It’s hard because I’d like to think this is a course that would suit me, so it’s disappointing not to be at full capacity. Tomorrow is all about enjoying the trail and training towards next year.
iRunFar: Since you’re coming into it a little undertrained or under-prepared, are you going to approach the race any differently than you normally would?
Lightfoot: I think I’ll… like I say, I never know what I’m going to do until the race actually starts and I see the first couple of minutes of the race. Yeah, if I don’t know what’s going to happen during the race, I’m not going to able to race to my full capacity, that’s going to change the way I’m going to start the race. I’ll wait and see how the rest of the guys go out, and then I’ll make a decision.
iRunFar: I ran most of the course yesterday, there’s a good mix of a little bit of road, some doubletrack non-technical, and then some fairly technical. How do you choose a pair of shoes for a race that has such a big mix of terrain?
Lightfoot: Yeah, a race like this, it’s each to his own. Everybody prefers a different kind of shoe. I only run in three or four shoes anyway. I’ll probably pick the… I brought the Sense SoftGround and the Fellraiser with us. I’ll probably go for the SoftGround to be honest. It’s a good shoe for a mixture of terrain, and I think that’s what we’re going to find tomorrow.
iRunFar: What do you think of the team aspect? You’ve raced on the IAU Trail World Championships, which you have won. That was obviously a team aspect. What do you think about bringing it over to this unofficial context?
Lightfoot: Again, it adds another sort of string to the bow, I guess. It makes it quite interesting for me. Tomorrow, if I am down and out and thinking about packing in or struggling through a hard time, there’s a team to think about as well. It may just pick you up and spur you on for that last little bit. It’s an interesting concept, and I hope it works.
iRunFar: Yeah, it’s an interesting concept because if you’re in the top three or whatever, you’re going for the win no matter what the set-up. But if you’re in seventh place and having a pity party, you might be like…
Lightfoot: Exactly, you’re more likely to pick it up a little bit and work it to the finish rather than just sort of slogging it in.
iRunFar: Pack it in and say, “I’m just going to use this as good training for North Face in a couple of weeks.” Will you be coming still to the States for that?
Lightfoot: Yeah, I mean, it’s still a bit off yet. It’s seven or eight weeks away. I’ve still got a lot of time to get back up to full fitness and sort my knee out and sort my back out and hopefully fingers crossed I’ll be there. I’ll be there whatever happens, but whether I’ll compete is a different thing.
iRunFar: Best of luck this weekend and have fun out there.
Lightfoot: Thanks very much. Cheers.