Lithuania’s Gediminas Grinius took third at the 2016 Vibram Hong Kong 100k on an extraordinarily cold day in Hong Kong. In this interview, Gediminas talks about how he managed the cold weather, how his race strategy changed as the race progressed, and where we’ll see him racing in 2016.
For more information on how the race played out, check out our results article.
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Gediminas Grinius Post-2016 Vibram Hong Kong 100k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Gediminas Grinius after his third-place finish at the 2016 Vibram Hong Kong 100k. Was this what you were expecting?
Gediminas Grinius: Actually, not because it’s the first race and because there were a lot of good athletes here, and in ultras you cannot predict. In this case with the strong field, it was impossible to predict even more because you never know what will happen in ultras. With weather like this, it’s terrible. So I didn’t expect it, but I was excited to run. Usually after 5k, I feel good or bad. After 3k, I felt good, so I started to run faster and faster. The first part is more or less flat. Where I come from is flat country, so it’s my strength. So I started to push until the finish.
iRunFar: So you were pushing and you were running more or less with François [D’haene] and Yan [Long Fei] for awhile?
Grinius: Yes, in the early stage I was running with them and a few other guys whose names I don’t know. Basically I was running with them. Of course I don’t remember which ascent, but François is a climber and Yan is a good runner, so they left me. Basically I was running all by myself.
iRunFar: You were alone for a long time. Were you thinking more about catching the guys ahead of you or not getting caught by the guys behind you?
Grinius: My wife supports me, and usually in the aid station she tells me what to do because she is more fresh and she’s always better help with the tactics. She’d already told me, I don’t remember at which aid stations, “Don’t think about the guys in front because they are 15 or 20 minutes ahead of me. Pau Capell is eight minutes behind me.” So I was thinking about Pau Capell and how to get rid of him and be fast through the last aid stations.
iRunFar: Did you find some strength late in the race?
Grinius: Actually, I felt good all the time. It was just that my speed was slower on the ascents than François and Yan, but I felt really good. I didn’t have the problems with my strength. I notice in the long races and all these ultras, usually in the marathon length or 40-some kilometers, I’m losing the power, but after another 5k, I’m feeling good again and I can push. This happened this time as well.
iRunFar: So how do you train for the mountains because you’ve had success with mountain ultras. How do you train for that in such flat country?
Grinius: I’m doing a lot of preparation because we have still some hills, so I’m running on those hills. In 20k, I can collect 1,000 meters, so if I’m doing repetitions on the same mountain, I can do 15k and 1,000 meters. I’m doing a lot of gym training and squats and box training and jumping and climbing just to try to imitate the climbing.
iRunFar: So you do cross train?
Grinius: Yeah, I do cross train.
iRunFar: You couldn’t have expected weather this cold.
Grinius: No, actually, nobody expected it because I believe in Hong Kong it’s the coldest day in many, many million years. Back in Lithuania I did heat adaptation because it’s supposed to be hot here, and everybody said the humidity and the heat so it should be hot or warm. I did some heat training which basically was worthless.
iRunFar: Did you feel cold out there?
Grinius: Yeah, I felt cold.
iRunFar: What does your season look like ahead? What are you focusing on?
Grinius: I’ll have a few races, but my A race will be the Grand Raid Réunion at the end of the season. In a few weeks I’m going to race Transgrancanaria and then Lavaredo and then UTMB and Diagonale des Fous.
iRunFar: So the longer and harder the better this season?
Grinius: Yeah, I like longer races because you can run slower. I think I don’t have the speed, so for me, the longer races work better.
iRunFar: You say you don’t have speed but that’s because you’re comparing yourself to someone like Yan Long Fei who is a two-hour-and-low-teen marathoner.
Grinius: Yeah, but sometimes in ultras it doesn’t matter.
iRunFar: Diagonale des Fous you don’t need…
Grinius: Yeah, you don’t need to be so fast.
iRunFar: Just strong. You showed you were strong today, Gediminas. Good to see you today. See you this season.
Grinius: Thanks, Bryon. See you.