Anna Comet is the highest-returning female entrant from last year’s Transvulcania Ultramarathon, having placed second. In this interview, Anna talks about what she learned during Transvulcania and the rest of her first full season of trail ultrarunning, and how she sees the women’s race playing out on Saturday.
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Anna Comet Pre-2016 Transvulcania Ultramarathon Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m on the island of La Palma. It’s about a day-and-a-half before the 2016 Transvulcania Ultramarathon. I’m with women’s highest-placing returning runner from last year, Anna Comet, who finished second place. Good evening.
Anna Comet: Good evening.
iRunFar: How are you doing? You’ve literally just arrived to the island, and I swept you up to do an interview.
Comet: I’m okay. I’m really happy to be here again. I think it’s a really nice island, and I have really good memories from this race. I’m really happy to be here.
iRunFar: I want to go back to your race here last year. You were really fun to watch. You ran a conservative early race and then came on stronger and moved up from fifth place to fourth place to third place to second place by the end. But you were pretty new to running trail ultras then?
Comet: Yes, I’ve been running shorter races as I told you last year. It was my first long race, my first ultra. Yes, maybe for this I started slow and then I started to feel good and to go faster. I hope this year to be so wise or intelligent to do the same. I hope so.
iRunFar: How did you get it in your head last year the proper pacing for you that you were able to start conservatively and be able to speed up and be so strong in the end? Was it just instinctual?
Comet: Yes, I think I used to race like this. In shorter races, I think I’m doing the same. It’s different because you have to go faster earlier, but they know me for doing that always. I think it’s maybe an instinct, yes.
iRunFar: You were very early on in your trail ultra career here last year, but you’ve gone on to race some more ultras in the 2015 season. You were at the Mont Blanc 80k where you took second place. In front and behind you were two girls who are racing this weekend.
Comet: Yes, they are both here.
iRunFar: Then you also raced Ultra Pirineu in September. In that race were also some more girls who are here this weekend.
Comet: Yes. I think on Saturday there will be a very, very interesting race. I think the level on the girls is very high. It’s really nice to see this because for our sport, it’s very important to have a good level and competitiveness.
iRunFar: A good story in the women’s race brings more women in, right?
Comet: Yes, of course.
iRunFar: Talk to me about what you’ve learned about this sport in the last year. Have you made some funny mistakes or done some things right that you’re really proud of?
Comet: I think I made very big mistakes last year, very big.
iRunFar: Like what, for example?
Comet: Transvulcania, I think, was a very good race. It was very good, but for example, in Chamonix, I started racing alone in the first place, and maybe I had to wait a little bit and run with Mira [Rai] and with… Hillary [Allen]. I think I ran too much races and I finished the season very, very tired. In Ultra Pirineu, I was so tired. Then so much small mistakes, I have learned a lot this year. I think all the races I finished exhausted, so exhausted.
iRunFar: Spent—totally spent.
Comet: Yes, it has been a hard season for me, but exciting, too.
iRunFar: When we talked after this race last year, you had said you’d forgone some of your ski-mountaineering racing in order to do mountain running. Did you race on skis this winter?
Comet: No, I didn’t do any races. I’ve been doing cross country—very, very short races. I like it a lot.
iRunFar: Ski races?
Comet: No, no, sorry. Running cross country. Nothing on the skis. I’ve been skiing a little bit just for training, but not any races.
iRunFar: Do you feel like you have been able to recover from how tired you felt at the end of Ultra Pirineu?
Comet: Now? Yeah, I think so. After Ultra Pirineu, I’ve been in Nepal doing Everest Sky Race. Yes, after Nepal, I’ve been resting a little bit. Yes, I think I’m recovered. I’m really excited to run on Saturday. I know it’s going to be a really hard race, but I’m really looking forward to doing it.
iRunFar: Let’s talk about Saturday’s race. The girls’ competition at Transvulcania for years has been strong, but this year I almost think the girl’s race is more competitive than the men’s race—the depth of very fast women.
Comet: Yes, I think so. It’s the year with the highest level of the girls for sure. Maybe with the 10% of men and women, it’s higher, as you say, in women.
iRunFar: I agree. Given what you know about some of the women in the field having raced them now over the last year, and knowing how competitive the race is in general, what are you going to do? What is going to be your approach this weekend?
Comet: What I have really clear is to run on my pace and on my own and just do my race. If I’m running good, I’ll be where I have to be. I know if I try to follow someone or someone else, I think it’s going to be a mistake. So I have to run on my own feeling good and pushing, of course, but I have to do my own race.
iRunFar: What happens if you come into El Pilar at 25k—and is Marc, your husband crewing for you?
Comet: No, he’s going to race.
iRunFar: He’s also racing! Okay! What happens if you come into El Pilar and they say somebody is 10 minutes ahead? What will you think? Do you think, I’m still going my own race, and we’ll see later on?
Comet: Yes, I think so. Yes, I have to run like this. The only thing of getting old is you know yourself.
iRunFar: You get smarter.
Comet: Yes, or you know yourself better. Yes, I know that to do a good race, I have to run on my pace. I’ll try to do this. Sometimes you start the race and you are excited and you don’t do this, but this time, I’m thinking I have to do this. It’s the first race of the season. We don’t really know how the others are. I think it’s very important to race like this.
iRunFar: My last question for you, and then you can go to sleep because it’s late…
Comet: Thank you.
iRunFar: You now know the Transvulcania course. It’s incredibly diverse in terms of the terrain you run over and the plants and trees you run through, and the views that you have. Do you have any particular memories of places on the course that you’re looking forward to seeing again?
Comet: This morning we’ve been talking about this with my husband. I have short memories I think about every part. I can tell you every place to eat, have water, and some special places, but I don’t have a specific one. I think it’s, as you said, it’s a really special race. It’s exotic. It’s different. The people here are very, very close to you. They cheer for you. It’s very special. It’s a very special race.
iRunFar: Good luck to you this weekend.
Comet: Thank you.
iRunFar: Thank you for taking time out of your literal arrival on the island for an interview. Thanks.
Comet: Thank you very much.