Last year, three-time Olympian Laura Orgué changed her focus from Nordic skiing to trail racing. This year, she’ll test herself for the first time at the Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon after winning the vertical kilometer here on Friday evening. In the following interview, Laura talks about her history with sport and the mountains; why she’s transitioning to trail running and, increasing, longer-distance trail races; and how she’s feeling about Sunday’s race.
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Laura Orgué Pre-2015 Zegama Marathon Interview Transcript
Laura Orgué: Fine, a little afraid but fine.
iRunFar: Afraid of what?
Orgué: Afraid of 42 kilometers.
iRunFar: Yeah. Over the last few years you’ve run a lot of vertical kilometers and won many of them. You’ve had great success. What has made you want to move into longer distances?
Orgué: Until now I was racing only in verticals more or less because I was a cross-country skier and I did my running races only during the summer when I was training for the winter. I think that doing longer races was too much for my training and to be ready for the ski season it was too much, so I decided only to do the short races or vertical kilometers.
iRunFar: But last year you did more. You did Dolomites and Sierre-Zinal maybe?
Orgué: Yes, Sierre Zinal and also Limone. Yes, last year I tried to start with those races because I love running and I was at home like this (claw hands). I wanted to try. This year, I will continue running longer races.
iRunFar: So the people might not know, you are a three-time Olympian in Nordic skiing. In Sochi your best finish was 10th in the 30k skate?
Orgué: Yes, 30k, yes.
iRunFar: That’s quite impressive. How long have you been a skier?
Orgué: I’ve been a skier for 10 years, but now I’ve decided to stop with my cross-country ski career. I will focus on mountain-running races.
iRunFar: Why will you make that change especially since at Sochi you had your best finish ever at an Olympics?
Orgué: Yes, but I think that after the Olympic season, I try another season (this season), and I was not as good as I wanted. I think that now is the moment to stop and change things and focus in other things.
iRunFar: When you were focused in Nordic skiing, you also ran for training?
Orgué: Yes, I was also running but only for training, not thinking about the races and preparing very well for the races. My cross-country ski coach said I could only do it in free time.
iRunFar: Maybe you wanted to do more running?
Orgué: Yes, yes. Every time I wanted to run more, but I knew that if I want to make the ski season more or less okay, I have to be…
iRunFar: Have you always loved the mountains and nature?
Orgué: Yes, since I was young. I went in the mountains every weekend with my parents in the summer. I think it’s my place to be, in the mountains.
iRunFar: Where are you originally from?
Orgué: I’m from a small town near Barcelona. So in this place there is no mountains, but my parents and my family are mountain people even if they are not from the mountains.
iRunFar: That seems very typical of the Catalan people. There’s a very strong mountain culture. Does it come from that?
Orgué: I think that in Cataluña, people usually do it in the weekends—go to the mountains and hiking.
iRunFar: Last year it was your first year doing longer trail races and you had strong success. Do you feel stronger coming into this season?
Orgué: Last season it was not bad, these longer races. The results were not bad but my feelings were not okay because I felt that I was not training enough to do these races. After every race I did I have to rest a little bit because I was not used to it. My plans now this season are to try to prepare more for the races and to get to push more in the races and try to do better and better recovery.
iRunFar: I’m guessing this is very exciting trying a new sport, or competing in a new sport?
Orgué: Yes, it’s my new goal to achieve now. I think that tomorrow at Zegama, my first 42k in a race, it’s a hard beginning I think. It’s at the beginning of the season with not a lot of kilometers in the training. We’ll see.
iRunFar: And one of the hardest 42k races you could possibly run.
Orgué: I think so.
iRunFar: Obviously, you won the vertical kilometer again yesterday here at Zegama. You’re very good at climbing probably from your cardiovascular background with Nordic skiing. How are you at descending?
Orgué: This is my black point, I think. I have to improve a lot in downhills. Until now, I nearly never trained for the downhills. Now I think that this season I will try to train this specific part.
iRunFar: Does this mean maybe you will push the climbs and the flat sections very hard?
Orgué: In a 20k race, maybe it would be my plan. But I think that tomorrow I have to be quiet and run with my head and not only with my heart in the uphill because if not, maybe I don’t have more energy in the last 10k that are only downhill and you have to push.
iRunFar: There’s such an amazing women’s field, so many strong runners like Elisa Desco, Emelie Forsberg, Oihana Kortazar, and maybe Emanuela Brizio?
Orgué: I don’t know Emanuela.
iRunFar: She has the course record here.
Orgué: Yes. Yes, tomorrow is a nice race and also a nice start for the sport because there will be a lot of high level and I think that it’s very nice. It’s also nice when you start a race and you don’t know exactly who will be on the podium.
iRunFar: Because sometimes on a vertical kilometer, there may be a few women, but you know who will be up there.
Orgué: Yes, and I think it will be very interesting tomorrow.
iRunFar: Best of luck and thank you very much.
Orgué: Thank you.