France’s Nicolas Martin has had a breakout year, as confirmed by his second-place finish at this year’s IAU Trail World Championships. In the following interview, Nico talks about how he felt on the technical terrain of Portugal, how he and French teammate Sylvain Court worked together in the middle of the race to stay in contact with Luis Alberto Hernando, and–given his improvement from seventh to second place since last year–what he thinks his potential in future trail world championships could be.
For more on how the world championships went down, read our 2016 IAU Trail World Championships results article.
[Editor’s Note: Thank you to Fred Bousseau of Trails Endurance for his translation assistance.]
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Nicolas Martin Post-2016 IAU Trail World Championships Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and it’s the day after the 2016 IAU Trail World Championships. I’m with men’s second-place finisher, Nico Martin. Congratulations!
Nicolas Martin: Thanks. Hi.
iRunFar: You had a heck of a race yesterday. Last year you were seventh place, but this year you were second. How do you feel right now?
Martin: I’m very happy to have my main goal of the season for the [IAU] Trail World Championships. I’m happy. It was a very difficult race with Sylvain [Court] and Luis [Alberto Hernando]. Luis was so strong yesterday, so I’m happy to finish second.
iRunFar: I saw you in several places on the course yesterday, and the rest of the iRunFar team also saw you. Everybody said you looked smooth and relaxed all day long. Was that how you felt also?
Martin: Yes, I had good sensations during the race. Since I was in the podium, I was happy during the race. I tried to keep my place during the race. I’m happy to finish in second place and take the silver place. It was best result possible yesterday with Luis very strong.
iRunFar: The course is really diverse. There’s a bit of paved road. There’s some doubletrack. When the terrain is technical, it’s very technical. Can you describe what the course is like?
Martin: The race was very, very technical, so it’s difficult to keep the focus during all the race. The beginning is less technical, but the last part is very, very technical. When you’re tired, it’s very difficult to keep focused during all the race. As it was, it was long for me. I prefer six or seven hours race. That’s my strongest race and distance. I’m happy.
iRunFar: You are a skilled technical runner. Even though yesterday’s course was quite technical, did you feel comfortable on the terrain?
Martin: Yes, I live in the Alps, so I know this single[track] with the stones and technical. It’s not a problem for me. It’s difficult to keep focused. It’s more difficult for me to keep focused all the while I’m doing the race.
iRunFar: To have to keep your mind focused on the terrain because it’s such a long race?
iRunFar: You and Sylvain seem to have a rivalry. But in yesterday’s race, it looked like two things were going on—you were working together at points like in the middle of the race when Luis Alberto tried to leave the group. It looked like you and Sylvain were working together to try to stay in contact. Is that what was happening?
Martin: Yes, Sylvain and me we try to join Luis, but it’s so difficult. But in the middle of the race, he took three minutes very fast. After, I think Luis was so strong, so we tried but it was so difficult that it was impossible.
iRunFar: Yesterday the environmental conditions were also challenging. It was a hot day and humid and there was also smoke in the air from things being burned. Did any of that affect your race?
Martin: It’s very hot, yes, but the smoke was not really a problem, but very, very hot for October. Normally the temperature is more cold. It’s difficult. I don’t like this temperature.
iRunFar: You’re from the Alps. You like it when it’s chilly and cold, right?
Martin: I prefer rain instead of humidity and cold conditions, yes.
iRunFar: A question about Team France—Team France returned as the team champions. Did the team go into yesterday’s race with any particular strategy or was it every man try to run his own best race?
Martin: No, no strategy, but we are a very good team with a lot of good runners with Michel Lanne and Benoît Cori. We know all our runners can win the race or finish in the top 10. We have a stage of a preparation (running camp) at the beginning of October. It’s very important for the team motivation. To know the other runners is very important at that moment and during the race.
iRunFar: A last question for you—last year you were seventh place, yesterday, second. What do you think is your potential at a race like this? Does this get you thinking that maybe next year you could work for the win?
Martin: I hope. I think it’s possible. Next year, the world championships are 50k. I think it’s better for me. I will try to win the title next year, but Luis Alberto will be a serious challenger. And the other runners, I think, with just 50k, runners will come from Zegama and Limone…
iRunFar: Having it be a significantly shorter race opens it up to more people who could do well—runners who run technical terrain at shorter distances.
Martin: It’s more competitive in 50k, I think. 80k is a long race but not too far. It’s a middle distance. It’s not a universal distance in the world. I think it will be better next year for competition.
iRunFar: Congrats to you on your second place. As a race observer, it was fun to watch you. You just seemed so confident and smooth all along. It was fun to watch you yesterday have such a strong race.