Claire Mougel of France surprised the trail running world in taking third at the 2018 Trail World Championships. In the following interview, our first with her, Claire talks about what her background in endurance sports is, how she went into the race without expectations, what it was then felt like to be leading the French team, and how the podium chase motivated her.
For more on this year’s race, check out our 2018 Trail World Championships results article.
Claire Mougel Post-2018 Trail World Championships Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m with Claire Mougel. She finished third at the 2018 Trail World Championships. Good morning, Claire. Congratulations!
Claire Mougel: Thank you. Good morning.
iRunFar: This is my first time meeting you, but you are not that new to trail running. You have been trail running for a few years?
Mougel: Since 10 years ago about.
iRunFar: Prior to trail running you have competed in Nordic ski racing?
Mougel: Yes, before, I make Nordic skiing a lot of years in competition.
iRunFar: Do you still compete in Nordic skiing? For fun or for competition?
Mougel: Competition but for fun, too.
iRunFar: Always for fun.
iRunFar: Do you ski race in the winter and trail run in the summer?
iRunFar: Last year iRunFar saw you take top 10 at Les Templiers. That was our first time really seeing you race.
Mougel: Yes, it was last year. I haven’t made a lot of long races. It’s the beginning.
iRunFar: You were the highest scoring member of Team France yesterday. How does that feel to have brought Team France to such a high level?
Mougel: I’m surprised for my level yesterday. It was a dream race for myself. I ran my own race. I started slowly and the places came to me.
iRunFar: I think it wasn’t until about 40k in that you were inside of the top 10. Before that, you were outside of the top 10.
Mougel: Yes, I have more speed for about 50k.
iRunFar: Where you actually felt yourself speeding up or getting faster?
Mougel: Yes, and in the second half of the race I had my poles.
iRunFar: Like skiing.
Mougel: Yes, and the run was different—it was a new race [at that point] like a second life.
iRunFar: Between 50k to 60k in the race, you went from the back half of the top 10 to very close to podium position. I think you passed four women in a few kilometers. That’s where you were coming back to life?
Mougel: Yes, when I saw that the podium was possible, it was then a second life also.
iRunFar: Really motivating.
iRunFar: Early in the race you were running behind some of the members of Team France—Adeline Roche, Amandine Ferrato—who finished first and second last year. When you passed them and moved to the front of them and began to lead Team France, what was going on in your mind in terms of the team?
Mougel: In my mind, I encouraged Adeline and Amandine. It was hard for them. I had seen in my mind it was difficult to win the race with the team, because the Spanish are very strong. I gave all during the race for the team just to finish, because I don’t know the classifications.
iRunFar: Every second counts.
Mougel: Yes, every second.
iRunFar: Crossing the line on the podium holding the flag of Team France, having such a high-level performance, what were you thinking? What was going through your mind?
Mougel: It was a lot of sensations and a lot of feelings. I was just happy. I’m just happy.
iRunFar: Very happy. Final question for you—now that your performance was so elevated and you’ve stepped up so much, do you have anything in your head about where you’d like to compete next or where you’d like to take your running?
Mougel: For the moment I will be quiet. I would like to be with my family and my little girl. She’s three years old. After, we will see.
iRunFar: Enjoy your time with your family. Congratulations on your podium performance, your individual bronze medal. Congratulations.
Mougel: Thank you.