Caroline Chaverot will run her first 100 miler this weekend at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. In the following interview, Caroline talks about how she hopes to convert her shorter-distance success to 100 miles, how she has trained this summer for UTMB, and whether she’ll temper her speed to this longer race.
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Caroline Chaverot Pre-2015 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks here, and I’m here in Chamonix, France, with Caroline Chaverot just a couple days before the 2015 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB). Hi, Caroline!
Caroline Chaverot: Hi, Meghan.
iRunFar: How are you doing?
Chaverot: I’m fine. I’m fine, a bit nervous, but I’m fine.
iRunFar: Are you nervous because this is the UTMB? Are you nervous because this is 100 miles? What makes you nervous?
Chaverot: I think both. It’s my first 100 miler. I’m very impressed and have a lot of respect for this course. I’m not sure I can go to the end. Also, there are plenty of very good athletes, so I feel the pressure getting up.
iRunFar: You’ve had quite a 2015 so far. We’ve seen you compete a couple times—quite well at the IAU Trail World Championships, and then quite well at Lavaredo. Then you went onto have a really nice race at the Eiger Ultra Trail.
Chaverot: Yes, I had a very good season. I’m a bit surprised. I’m very happy but surprised to be that fast and to be in good health. Last year I had a lot of health problems. I had Lyme disease from a tick. I had lack of iron, and so I was very tired. I took plenty of time to discover what was wrong with me. This year, I’m in good health, and I train well, and I’m happy also with my training. I take a lot of pleasure to run. So, it’s a good season.
iRunFar: The last time iRunFar saw you compete in person was at Lavaredo at the end of June. We didn’t see your race at the Eiger Ultra Trail. Can you tell us how that went?
Chaverot: It went good, but it was a bit difficult because I had no assistance. In fact, I came just the day before the race. For having no assistance, it’s a bit complicated because you can’t drive. You must take a telepherique. I thought it was too complicated for an assistant who didn’t know the place. So I had no assistance. It was a bit difficult not to have my energy and my own food. In fact, I didn’t eat for the second half of the race. I only drink water.
iRunFar: Because you didn’t have…?
Chaverot: Yeah, I didn’t find what I wanted. So, the end of the race was difficult, but I was still happy to do a good time and win the race.
iRunFar: Yeah, you ran quite fast despite not having any food.
Chaverot: Yes, I was surprised. It made me to be optimistic about UTMB. Even if you have problems, you have to be confident and continue and keep going and keep hoping and keep having faith in my abilities, and maybe it goes well.
iRunFar: When there are lows, you’ve learned that even through those lows you can keep moving.
Chaverot: Yes, that’s true. I learned it at Lavaredo in a difficult stage in maybe 70k and also at the Eiger, the end was difficult. Sometimes it goes better, so you just have to wait, to be patient, and to try not to be focused on the pain, but to think about everything else. Maybe it goes better after.
iRunFar: I want to ask you about moving up to that 100-mile distance, to almost 170k. It’s an increase in distance and a lot of extra hours on your feet. Given that you’re becoming a master of the shorter-distance ultras, how are you switching your mindset to being out there for so many hours longer?
Chaverot: It’s why I’m nervous. I’m not sure to be able to start at a good pace and to be able to hold until the end. I will see. I don’t really realize what it will be. I think I have to be on the course to realize how long it is. It’s why I’m nervous and I have a lot respect for this course.
iRunFar: Are you planning to race your own race or follow some of the girls who have more 100-mile experience than you?
Chaverot: No, I don’t want to follow the girls. I will just try to be focused on my sensation, to feel good and relaxed. I will see. Maybe I’m very slow compared to the others, maybe not. I will just focus on myself. I really hope I can do that. Sometimes at the start I say I don’t want to do my own course, and in the middle of this course you get into concentration and you focus on other people. I think it will be not so good for UTMB. I will really try to get focused, but I’m not sure to be able to do it.
iRunFar: This is a race with pretty formidable female competition. There are a lot of fast women this year. You have some experience racing some of these people. You’ve dueled pretty closely with Nathalie [Mauclair], and you’ve raced some of the other women in the race. Who are you looking forward to running a little bit with if you happen to see them on the trail?
Chaverot: I think the women I will probably see at one moment or another will be Núria Picas. She’s a great favorite of the race. She has a lot of experience; she’s very strong. Nathalie, she’s also very experienced. Stephanie Howe, I don’t know her but she seems to be really fast. Other people like Francesca Canepa, Fernanda Maciel, Uxue Fraile, I think I will see a lot of these women.
iRunFar: We’ll see what happens, right? In a race as long as this, nutrition and hydration do become so much more important than in a shorter race. Do you have a nutrition plan? What are some of the foods you’re going to eat?
Chaverot: Yes. First of all, the years before, I only drink my energy drink. It’s this OVERSTIM.s. It’s very good for me, and I ate gels. Gels make me sick. After five hours or six hours, I wasn’t able to eat at all. In CCC, I stopped eating in Grand Col Ferret, and I didn’t eat until the end. I tried to change this. I stopped the gels. I don’t take any more gels. Yesterday I spent all the afternoon cooking. I cooked me a very good muffin without gluten, not fat, but good muffin with chestnuts and carrots. So I will have pleasure to eat them. They are pretty smooth, so they are easy to eat. I will try to eat some banana and maybe some salted almonds. That’s all. I will try to eat every hour, to be very serious with that, and to eat until the end. Usually, even in Eiger, I lost four kilos. I took them back very quickly because I spent all the month of August cooking and baking cakes.
iRunFar: Baking and eating cakes.
Chaverot: Yeah, I will try to eat more. It’s very important I think.
iRunFar: You are a teacher. School is out. You’ve been traveling and running in some interesting places this summer.
Chaverot: Yes, it was great. I was in Val D’Aosta. It was gorgeous place with very nice people, magnificent landscape. We did some light alpinism and running quite fast. It was really great. I didn’t want to spend all the month of recognizing the course. I think I want to have the surprise during the course. I wanted to make something different. I didn’t want to train really hard. I train in the winter, but in the summer I want to enjoy the mountains.
iRunFar: To play. To get fit and strong while playing.
Chaverot: Yes. Yes.
iRunFar: So alpinism on some of the mountains above the Aosta Valley. Which mountains?
Chaverot: It was Monte Rosa, Gran Paradiso, Castor and Pallux. It was really great. We had great fun doing that. I think it trained me well because I did some 3,000-meter ascents in one push, so it’s a good training. Also, the downhill with the heavy bag was good training. It was just fun. I did a lot of cycling, too.
iRunFar: So you’re very fit then?
Chaverot: Yeah, I hope so. I rested these three last weeks. I felt tired all of this mountaineering, but no, I hope I’m in good shape. We never know. Tomorrow I will know.
iRunFar: My last question for you: The UTMB starts at 6 p.m. It starts in the evening, so the first thing you do is run through the night. What do you think about that?
Chaverot: Yeah, I’m also a bit afraid of it because it’s the longest night I will do. I did some night in Transgrancanaria and Lavaredo, but we started at midnight and done at 11 a.m. Here we start at 6 p.m. and the night will come at 8 p.m. and we finish at 6 p.m., so it’s really long.
iRunFar: The whole night.
Chaverot: But I will have the music, and I think I will feel good in the night. The start at 6 p.m. is not easy to manage.
iRunFar: It seems difficult.
Chaverot: With nutrition, the want to sleep, the rest all the day—it’s not easy, but it’s fun. It’s a good experience.
iRunFar: Best of luck to you this weekend.
Chaverot: Thank you, Meghan. Sorry for my English.
iRunFar: Ahh, it’s so good. So good. Best of luck to you on your tour of Mont Blanc this weekend.
Chaverot: Ah, I hope I can get to the end. Thank you.
iRunFar: We look forward to seeing you there.
Chaverot: Thank you, Meghan.