At this point, there’s little doubt that Luis Alberto Hernando is the man at roughly 80 kilometers in the mountains. He showed that again this weekend by winning the IAU Trail World Championships in textbook style. In the following interview, Luis Alberto talks about how it feels to be a world champion, how that compares to competing in the Olympics, how he’ll plan out his 2017 season, why he’s so good at 50-mile races, and what he thinks of the French team.
For more on how the world championships went down, read our 2016 IAU Trail World Championships results article.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Luis Alberto Hernando, 2016 IAU Trail World Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Luis Alberto Hernando after his win at the 2016 IAU Trail World Championships. Congratulations!
Luis Alberto Hernando: Thank you very much.
iRunFar: Before the race you said it may take a couple years to really know what you feel about winning a world championship if you did. Now you won a world championship. How do you feel?
Hernando: I will try to say the same things as last week not to change the speech. Now having seen the people who toed the line yesterday, the people that was there at the award ceremony, and the high level of competition, it’s really valuable to have a world-championship medal not that it’s more important than the IAAF. I’m really, really happy to have been here and to have had the race I had.
iRunFar: You’ve also competed in the Olympics where you were a strong competitor but just another competitor. How does it compare, the level of emotion, winning a world championship versus being an Olympic competitor?
Hernando: I can’t compare because they’re completely different. When I went to the Olympics, my objective was just to qualify as it is such a competitive sport. The whole Olympic thing is super, super competitive. It’s way different than our sport. It has its competition but it’s more friendship. The goal was completely different. Here, I was aiming to do something more. I’m really, really happy. The satisfaction is almost the same because I’m making my goals.
iRunFar: Do you enjoy the camaraderie of the trail running? Is that something that is important to you in this sport?
Hernando: Yes, when I was doing biathlons, the ambiance was a bit more tense because people were putting a lot of things in them. Here it’s different because we are all here to run and compete but we’re also here to enjoy the mountains and our friends and to be all together. You enjoy both when you’re training, both sports, but on the week of the race, here it’s way more easy to enjoy and to be more relaxed.
iRunFar: On a competition level, what about the French team?
Hernando: We knew this was going to happen because of what they did last year at the other world championship. They were the favorites in teams in male and female, but they also had four or five individuals who were able to win the race. It happened actually coming out of 30k. There were six French people and me and Diego Pazos from Switzerland. We all knew this was going to happen because they prepare this race in a very big way. It definitely happened.
iRunFar: You’ve run really well at shorter trail races and you’ve had some success with your second at UTMB, but at 80k, you are unbeatable. What is your secret? Why do you think you’re so good at more or less 80k?
Hernando: This year I tried to prepare for two races, Zegama and UTMB. So you have a 42k race and a 170k race. Maybe this training means it’s better for distances in the middle. I’ve been trying to prepare all these kinds of races, and the only race that goes far from this distance is UTMB. Maybe that’s the reason I’m having success in these kinds of distances. Also, it’s the distance I have more experience in and feel more comfortable running.
iRunFar: One final question for you. Over the previous few years, you did more and more longer races. This year, you changed by doing a small number of races. Have you thought of how your season may evolve next year?
Hernando: The maximum is going to be the same number of races as this year. I need to have objectives and goals on the short period of time. If I have a race now and in two months, it’s hard for me to get out and train. I get a little bit lazy. I can go out to the mountains and enjoy the day, but to get the serious training and intensity of trainings, I need to have something on my mind like when you go to exams on the school. I try to keep short-term goals. It’s what keeps me racing. It’s also true that it’s getting harder for me to recover after a race. It’s going to be more or less the same as this year.
iRunFar: Thank you very much. And Mauri.
Hernando: Thank you very much.