Luis Alberto Hernando attempted his first 100-mile race at last year’s Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, where he dropped out. This year, he’s been on fire and, now, he’s making another attempt at UTMB. In the following interview, Luis talks about his training during the 2015 race season, what went wrong in last year’s UTMB, and how he’ll approach this year’s race.
[Editor’s Note: Thanks to Depa for the translation assistance.]
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Luis Alberto Hernando Pre-2015 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Luis Alberto Hernando before the 2015 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB). Welcome, Luis Alberto.
Luis Alberto Hernando: Gracias. Thank you very much.
iRunFar: You have had a very strong season. You won Transvulcania. You were second at the IAU Trail World Championships, you won Ice Trail Tarentaise. How are you feeling now?
Hernando: Good. Well, I pretty much don’t know very well what sensations I should have for a race like this, this long. But well, overall, I think the most important thing is I don’t have any pain, I feel like new, and well, I don’t know if I’ve done enough volume training. But I didn’t want to arrive here tired, at least sensations don’t show that, sensations are good and I think I’ve done a good job.
iRunFar: You had many races early in the year. Have you found time to actually train? Did you find time to train since you started racing? Was there enough time to have focused training?
Hernando: I’m sure that if I’ve focused more on this race and I’d taken out some of the previous races I might have arrived here with better legs, but well, it’s impossible for me to quit races like the ones I’ve done. I mean, it’s impossible, playing all in to one card is dangerous and considering UTMB is at the end of the season. I’ve focused in each race I’ve done, and we’ve focused in UTMB this last month.
iRunFar: Last year you started UTMB but you did not finish. What went wrong?
Hernando: Well, last year was a bummer. Last year I did focus more in UTMB comparing to this year, and besides, you know I had more time with UTMB in the back of my head, thinking of it. It was a pity, that we don’t know where the problem came from, we don’t know how to avoid it, and we don’t know what to do if it happens again. Last year is gone, but I did learn that the world is not over. In the trip back home, we were thinking of other races and also in UTMB 2015. I’m hoping to have better luck, to not have this problem, but well, it’s 20 hours of racing that if this problem doesn’t come back, there are many other that can come.
iRunFar: So why did you come back to UTMB? Why did you return to UTMB?
Hernando: I think it’s a special race, that you must run, I would really like to finish it. Of course I’d like to be in the front pack and try to win it, but it’s a race I will never forget, neither last year’s nor this year. It’s a special race, it’s a must do for every trail runner, it’s necessary to do it.
iRunFar: If things become difficult late in the race, you try to compete early and you are with the head of the race, but if things go wrong, will you still try to finish?
Hernando: I’m going out trying to finish as closest to first as I can. The idea is to finish as close to the top spots as possible, of course. But well, it’s a distance that I’ve never done before, I’ve never gone over 110 kilometers, so I think the best choice is trying to do what most experienced people does, trying not to show myself so much, follow their pace which I think they know how to set a better pace than I do, I have no idea what pace should I set at this race. I’ll try to draft them as much time as I can, get as less tired as possible, and pay attention to what I always do, eating, drinking, and not much more.
iRunFar: So what runners specifically do you think you will try to run with early in the race?
Hernando: I think the one I think the most it’s, maybe, Miguel Heras. Maybe.
iRunFar: You’re going to try to run with Miguel Heras early in the race. He’s smart. Is there one thing you are most excited about or that you most want to experience for this race?
Hernando: I think the most exciting thing to do here is, well, I believe it must be winning. I think, I think.
iRunFar: Buena Suerte.
Hernando: I think Depa speaks English better than you because I understand Depa and you, nothing.
iRunFar: I will practice.