Xavier Thévenard comes into the 2018 Hardrock 100 as the entrant with the fastest Hardrock finish in the field and as the favorite. In the following interview, Xavier talks about why he’s back at Hardrock, how his season has gone so far, and how he hopes to improve on his 2016 Hardrock.
Xavier Thévenard Pre-2018 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Xavier Thevenard before the 2018 Hardrock 100. Welcome, Xavier.
Xavier Thevenard: Thank you. Thank you very much.
iRunFar: You ran Hardrock two years ago. What brings you back?
Thevenard: Because it’s a magic place, the run and trails are fantastic, and also because I’ve been lucky to be in the lottery which is so difficult that you cannot miss this chance. Also, the ambiance and organization and all the things together are so nice.
iRunFar: When did you arrive here in Silverton?
Thevenard: I arrived two days ago. [12 days before the race]
iRunFar: Have you had some fun in the mountains now?
Thevenard: Yes, we went up to Kendall and this mountain right here.
iRunFar: And Anvil Mountain? They’re right here from town.
iRunFar: Will you have a big training before the race or are you relaxed now?
Thevenard: Yes, it’s more relaxed at this time because 10 days before the ultra race is more time for recovering.
iRunFar: Is that difficult for you here in such a beautiful place?
Thevenard: Yes, it’s very hard. It’s difficult also to get used to the elevation.
iRunFar: Earlier this season you ran Transvulcaniaand had a good race there. How did that feel for you?
Thevenard: Yes, the rank was okay, but it was an 80k race, and I prefer longer races and start to feel better after 80k.
iRunFar: You ran the Marathon du Mont Blanc, 42k, a few weeks ago, and your position was not that high. Was that training or just a short race?
Thevenard: Yes, the Marathon du Mont Blanc was right after a big training session dedicated to Hardrock, so I was not in good shape for the marathon.
iRunFar: It was not the focus for your season?
Thevenard: No, the objectives for my season are Hardrock and UTMBin early September.
iRunFar: Here you are at Hardrock. You were third here two years ago. Do you think you can win this year?
Thevenard: I never start an ultra thinking about first place or second place or whatever. So many things can happen during an ultra that it’s difficult to predict. One of the objectives would be better time-wise and be close to 23 hours. Two years ago, I was just close to 24 hours, but in the middle I had very hard times. Things are different this year, and it’s actually possible to be closer to 23.
iRunFar: You ran this same direction two years ago, so you’re very familiar with what you will see. Where do you think you can improve to go from 24 to 23 hours?
Thevenard: All the portion from Ouray to Handies Peak is certainly the portion I can improve. I really suffered a lot, and it was the most difficult moment in my life.
iRunFar: Why was that? Tell me what was so hard.
Thevenard: Because of the heat and I was dead.
iRunFar: Agreed. For me, too. How has your training been in comparison to two years ago? Do you feel as strong?
Thevenard: The sensations are similar to what was two years ago. I adapt my training day after day according to my conditions and feelings.
iRunFar: Did you change any focus of your training from two years ago to this year? Did you do more long runs or more climbing or any other change?
Thevenard: Not particularly—it was fairly similar to two years ago. In the winter time I do a lot of Nordic skiing, but then there was no more snow which is a good reason to stop. Then, I do a lot of cycling and…
iRunFar: Is there an aspect of the race or the environment or ambiance you’re most excited about in general?
Thevenard: No, I enjoy more particularly the ambiance at the aid stations. People are helping for refueling, and so on. It’s a different feeling than in Europe where it’s more tougher competition. Here, everyone welcomes you. There’s a real difference between a Hardrock and a UTMB. They are quite opposites concerning this aspect of ambiance.
iRunFar: Is it the same with the other competitors or the other racers?
Thevenard: Yes, I think there are not so many exchanges with other competitors because there are not so many competitors running the Hardrock. But the difference in the ambiance and the sharing in the spirit…
iRunFar: It’s maybe more of a family?
iRunFar: Thank you and good luck.
Thevenard: Yes, and good luck to you.