Pau Capell ran what has to be his best ultramarathon to date en route to winning the 2017 Transgrancanaria. In the following interview, Pau talks about how his race didn’t go according to plan, why he thinks having a nutritional plan is the key to ultramarathons, and where he’ll race next.
Read our Transgrancanaria results article to find out what else happened at this year’s race!
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Pau Capell, 2017 Transgrancanaria Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell if iRunFar here with Pau Capell after his win at the 2017 Transgrancanaria. How are you, Pau?
Pau Capell: I’m fine, thank you.
iRunFar: You’re moving well today.
Capell: Yeah, I slept good last night, so I’m okay today… not to run, but just for walking.
iRunFar: You were moving even better yesterday. You had an incredible race. Was it your best performance yet?
Capell: I think I did a good race. I was good. I felt good. When I started the race, my legs were so good, and I decided to push in the first climb. When I saw the other runners were far, it was maybe the day for pushing. So, I run, run, run, and I finished first. It was an incredible race and an incredible time, so it was a perfect weekend,
iRunFar: The plan wasn’t necessarily to go hard, it’s just want happened when you had the lead early?
Capell: It was not the plan. My plan was to run with the first group altogether and maybe after half of the race decide whether to push or not. When I started, maybe at kilometer two, I was good, and I said, “We are going to join and push,” and it was what happened in the race. Then, I lost the way at one point in Fontanales. I lost the ten minutes I had of the advantage, but I recovered the way and started again. It was a good thing for …, but I recovered good and took a good way and finished first.
iRunFar: I had wondered what had happened because you did have a ten-minute lead or so in Fontanales, but it must have been after the town you got lost?
Capell: Yes, before Fontanales I got lost. We arrived in Fontanales altogether, and it was crazy for me because I was with the advantage I needed to push in the first part, and then I lost this advantage, and it was hard for my mind. But these are things of the race—people have problems, and this was my problem. Then, all was okay.
iRunFar: You didn’t have any major problems the rest of the race? Your legs were fine? Your energy?
Capell: No, it was perfect. We did good planning of nutrition with my nutritionist. It was very good. My assistant, Marta, had a good case (as we say). At every refreshment he had what I had to take, what I had to eat at this point. All was good. It was perfect for trying to do my best.
iRunFar: You had a pretty strict plan, a regimen?
Capell: Yes, exactly. In the races I have run, when we have a good plan and in this planning all was good, then in the race was an example of where we did everything in this moment and every moment and finally we did a good result.
iRunFar: Do you think it’s because of the specific nutrition that you take or do you think it’s maybe part that you have to do it? You have to take a gel at a certain time?
Capell: I think it’s a little bit of all. I did good training with Laia Diez, my trainer. Also, this is a good part of this result. Then in the race, I think the most important thing is the nutrition, because if you have some problems with your stomach, you can’t run. I haven’t because I had to eat in every moment, and I think that was maybe key of the race.
iRunFar: Is it the same throughout the race? Does it change at different times during the race—the plan?
Capell: No, the plan is always we take a different profile of the race and we decide what I have to eat in every moment. Normally, I eat the same—rice, jam, some gels, bars, and also fruit. With this, I can run well.
iRunFar: It’s not different for the first 10k as the last?
Capell: No, it’s always the same.
iRunFar: But it’s a different amount?
Capell: Depending on the profile—if I have to climb, I’m not going to eat rice or potatoes; I’m going to eat some gels because it’s necessary in this part. Always I eat the same. In the race, I eat some things in the first part and in the other part some different things.
iRunFar: So you eat maybe more real food if you have a long descent coming so your stomach can work better?
Capell: Exactly. I had to descend, maybe I have time to eat more things maybe. Then, when I have to go up, I prefer to eat gels and things that I know my body can do easy processing. Then, we studied this before the race, and we proved in the different trainings. Then in the race, if you are training good, the race is not a mystery.
iRunFar: Did you have any time maybe in the second half of the race where you didn’t think you would win, or did you feel confident you would continue?
Capell: No, I felt confident. Then in the last 10k, I was telling with Diego [Pazos] that it was a shitty way because it’s very flat and with some rocks and it’s difficult for running. But it is difficult for everybody, so it’s not a problem. No, when I was running during the race, I was very happy. I was enjoying, and this is very important. Then in the last 10k, I was suffering a lot, but I needed to run, run, run to the finish line.
iRunFar: What did you enjoy out there? You were alone the whole time.
Capell: I love trail running. When I am training here in Grancanaria one month before, I was enjoying Garañon and Roque Nublo. When I’m running in the race, I was thinking about the training. Now I have to go to Garañon. Now I’m going down. This is pleasant for me. This is why I’m enjoying.
iRunFar: What other races do you have coming up this spring?
Capell: Now I will run Madeira [Island] Ultra Trail. Then the races, but now, Madeira is the focus of my mind. I have to recover from this week very well and then train hard for Madeira in my best conditions.
iRunFar: Do you think this race is good preparation for Madeira?
Capell: Of course, yeah, and also it’s my first race of the season, so I didn’t imagine I could have a good start as winning Transgrancanaria, and now I’m very, very happy and with energy for start again. I’m going to Madeira to do my rest.
iRunFar: I would assume if you’re doing Transgrancanaria and Madeira, you’re looking to compete in the whole Ultra-Trail World Tour this year?
Capell: Yes, the World Tour is a good championship, and I’d like to do a good job. But I know it’s difficult and I have to do a good job in UTMB, and this is so difficult. It’s my first time I will run 100 miles. So, step by step, and now Madeira. If I finish Madeira, then I will think about the next race—step by step.
iRunFar: Great. Congratulations.
Capell: Thank you very much, Bryon.