Luis Alberto Hernando won the 2016 Transvulcania Ultramarathon, his third win and fourth podium finish. In this interview, Luis talks about being sick before, during, and after the race, how he had to give 100% in order to win, and how the race played out among the rest of the competition.
Check out our results article for the full race story.
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Luis Alberto Hernando, 2016 Transvulcania Ultramarathon Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and it’s the day after the 2016 Transvulcania Ultramarathon. I’m with men’s three-time champion, Luis Alberto Hernando. Congratulations!
Luis Alberto Hernando: Thank you very much.
iRunFar: What an incredible day you had yesterday, but I think you feel like shit.
Hernando: It’s actually… I don’t think I was that bad as before. I think it was my brain, the suggestion of my brain, thinking I was going to be sick. I had a fever though.
iRunFar: In the days before the race?
Hernando: In the days before the race. It wasn’t that bad, otherwise I wouldn’t have run yesterday like I ran before. Actually, now I’m really happy with having finished and having won. All my body feels really bad—my nose, my chest, everything is wrong now. I feel really, really bad. Like you say, I feel like crap.
iRunFar: So, just to confirm, you became sick a couple days before the race, and you thought maybe it was going to be really bad?
Hernando: Yes, I’ve been feeling really bad the days before. My son was sick. He had a fever and was really bad. Also, being with him, well, I probably was sick, too, but it took longer to get it out. Yeah, I guess it was my brain thinking I was not going to be 100% with nervousness and everything, but finally it turned out well.
iRunFar: So let’s talk about how the race played out. When the race started, the field went off fast just like it was kind of anticipated. In the first climb all the way up to Deseadas, where were you in the men’s pack?
Hernando: The difference from the other years, from the start lines to the first aid station, there were no groups. We were all running together in a long line. Getting to the first aid station, we started splitting ourselves. To get the aid fast and get out quick from there, we all kind of rushed to get into the aid station to go out quick. A group was made there, and I was around sixth getting out of [Los] Canarios, but not as fast as previous years. After Los Canarios to the first summit, I was running or getting positions back, and also trying not to lose that much difference on Sage Canaday. I guess I got to the first summit in third, but the most important thing for me was arriving there with only one minute or something to Sage who was leading at that point.
iRunFar: When we saw you before El Pilar, you were then running in second place a little bit behind Sage. During that descent into El Pilar, could you see him? Did you know how far back? Also, you were breathing really hard then. It looked like you were working very hard then. How were you feeling?
Hernando: I could actually see Sage coming down into El Pilar. I was pushing hard for that reason. He was setting a really good pace. I knew the pace was good, and we were going to do a really good time if we did that and ran that kind of race, not only competing together with him but also to open a gap for the other runners. It took me a couple minutes in the flat part, but I could always see him going up. That’s kind of how things turned out yesterday.
iRunFar: Up at the top at Roque de los Muchachos, you and Sage were basically together within seconds of each other, but then very, very quickly Sage said that on the runnable steep part of the descent, you were just gone. That must have been a decisive move for you where you said, “This is where I have to put my time on Sage.”
Hernando: There was actually no crucial moment for me. We were all competing from the start to the end, but there were no actually moments of relaxation or super tense. We were racing the whole thing. Yes, I did take care of myself. I was 30 seconds behind Sage into Roque. I did take care of myself. I let him go a bit before the aid station, so I could keep my muscles safe for the first drop, the start of the descent. I did a quick moment in the aid station. That was a good move. I took the aid really quick. What I did was to start to run faster after the aid station to open just a bit of a gap and to be leading and setting the pace in the downhill. It turned out to be a good move. If I had to choose a moment of the race, yes, doing the aid station at Roque quickly.
iRunFar: Four times a finish at Transvulcania—one time a second and three times a win—what is left to do here with this race for you?
Hernando: I don’t know. I believe I’ve run four races in a different way but with the same emotions and same excitement. So if I have to repeat, I don’t know what I have left here, but if I have to repeat, it wouldn’t be a problem.
iRunFar: Last question for you. When we interviewed you before the race, you said you hoped to save yourself a little for Zegama [Marathon] in just two weeks. Did you save yourself at all?
Hernando: I had the expectation to save something for Zegama in 15 days, but I didn’t save anything. There was seven hours of pushing 100% of myself. We have 15 days, so we’ll see what we can do. No, I’m not going to be 100% recovered for that, but I will go and see what I can do. Yesterday was 100% race for me. I couldn’t save anything.
iRunFar: Congratulations. Recover well. Get well soon.
Hernando: Thank you.