France’s Sébastien Spehler knew very early based on how strong he felt that he’d have a good race, but he was still surprised to have won the 2017 Grand Trail des Templiers. In our first interview with Sébastien, he talks about his background in track and field, why he started racing trails several years ago, how the men’s race played out, and where you’ll see him compete next.
Make sure to check out our in-depth race report for the full race story.
Sébastien Spehler, 2017 Les Templiers Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Sébastien Spehler after his win at the 2017 Grand Trail des Templiers. Felicitacions!
Sébastien Spehler: Merci!
iRunFar: You had a great race today. You went out strong with the leaders and ran at the front all day.
Spehler: Yes, it’s true that this year I went very fast. It was my fourth participation, and this year I did try to go very fast at the front.
iRunFar: Do you think having run the other three years showed you what you were capable of so you could run with confidence?
Spehler: I agree that winning today was thanks to my previous participations. I knew the difficult parts, and I knew what was ahead of me today.
iRunFar: When did you know you were having a special day?
Spehler: Very quickly into the race I felt like I was feeling very good. I had good legs. It’s hard to say you’re going to have a good day, but it felt like a good day in terms of things were going well.
iRunFar: In the second half of the race, every time I saw you at checkpoints, you were moving very strong and very fast. Did you have any low points or times you didn’t feel good?
Spehler: Thanks to the previous participations, I knew that between the 55 and 60k, it isn’t that good. I made sure to eat a lot at the previous aid stations so I could do this part very well.
iRunFar: What was it like coming to the last climb knowing that not only some of the best French runners—Nico Martin, Sylvain Court—were behind you, but some of the best runners from other countries? Were you scared at all?
Spehler: When I went to the last climb, I knew I was ahead, so I was quite confident. When I knew that Nico was behind me, I was a bit worried, but I kind of felt I could make it. Usually people walk the last climb, so I was confident.
iRunFar: You now have raced Nico Martin many times. Did it feel good to beat him here after the French [Trail] Championships?
Spehler: No, no, it’s not a revenge feeling. I’m happy I won, but I think Nico Martin did a great race and deserves the second place today.
iRunFar: Does this you feel good about the [Trail] World Championships in Spain next year?
Spehler: It’s still far away. I do feel very well prepared. I need to train for it. It’s true that it gives confidence.
iRunFar: Also in terms of the French team, once again it will be a very strong group.
Spehler: Yes, sure, it’s trail running. On paper it’s a strong team, but you never know what can happen in trail running.
iRunFar: Do you think this was your best trail race so far?
Spehler: One of the best three or four for sure.
iRunFar: What keeps bringing you back to Les Templiers?
Spehler: I’m a trail runner who likes to run and not really climb. I think it’s a race that is good for me, so I like coming back for that.
iRunFar: What is your history with sport? How did you come to trail running?
Spehler: I started running when I was six years old. I’ve done track and field, a bit of everything, cross country, track, roads.
iRunFar: I understand you were fast at 10,000 meters?
Spehler: I was not too bad—not good, but not bad.
iRunFar: Thirty minutes and a little bit?
Spehler: Yes, I did 30:57 without too much training, but I don’t think I could do lower than 30:30.
iRunFar: When did you start running trail and why?
Spehler: If fact where I live there are no tracks. If you want to do 10k, you have to go to a track and I couldn’t because of where I live. There are mountains where I live, so I decided to go into the mountains to run.
iRunFar: Where do you live?
Spehler: In Alsace in the northeast of France.
iRunFar: Any more races for you this year?
Spehler: MaXi-Race China.
iRunFar: Maybe win two MaXi-Races this year?
Spehler: It’s possible. That would be cool.
iRunFar: Congratuations. Merci.
Spehler: Thank you.