In taking third at the 2019 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail, France’s Audrey Tanguy continues her fast upward trajectory in trail ultrarunning. In our first interview with Audrey, she talks about being a lifetime runner while being new to competing, the totally random way she found out she was actually quite fast at running, and how the race unfolded from her perspective.
For more on how the race played out, read our MIUT results article.
Audrey Tanguy Post-2019 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Audrey Tanguy. She just finished third at the 2019 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail. Good evening, Audrey. How are you doing?
Audrey Tanguy: I’m fine, thank you.
iRunFar: Congratulations on your third place yesterday. You had such a strong race.
Tanguy: Thank you.
iRunFar: How do you feel about it?
Tanguy: I’m really happy about this race. That was a really good race, especially because there was a really strong group of women–I think some of the strongest in the world. That was really stressful at the beginning. I was really stressed about this race since about a month ago. But the race was really good. I loved it.
iRunFar: This was our first time watching you race, and our first interview with you. I’d love to get a sense of who you are. What do you do for work?
Tanguy: I’m a P.E. teacher.
iRunFar: Oh, a physical-education teacher. So you get exercise for work.
Tanguy: Yeah, I work with teenagers from ages 12 to 18.
iRunFar: And you said you live in the Alps of France?
Tanguy: Yeah, I live in the mountains. For my job, I had to live in Paris for three years. I was young, so I didn’t [get to] choose my placement.
iRunFar: Your placement chose you.
Tanguy: Yeah, but now I’m back, so I am living in the mountains again and I’m really happy.
iRunFar: That’s fantastic. And you are a fairly new runner and a fairly new trail ultrarunner. You just started running recently?
Tanguy: I started running really young, actually, because I ran with my family. I ran with my mom, my sister, and my dad since I was four or five. Something like that. But I started [entering] competitions one-and-a-half years ago, really. I did a stage–you say stage in English?–a summer camp for training and I met the champion Antoine Guillon [winner of Diagonale des Fous in 2015 and winner of Ultra Trail Tai Mo Shan in 2016]. You know him, maybe? So, I did this camp and he said to me, “Oh, you seem to be really good.” I didn’t know. So, I was really happy and after he asked me if I wanted to be coached by him. I said, “Yes, for sure, I would love this!” He was my coach for one year and I did this really strong race. I wasn’t expecting anything and I had really good results, actually.
iRunFar: All of your running up until doing that training camp with Antoine Guillon was recreational, just for fun.
Tanguy: No, I had a competition in August, and in July I was in Malaysia for vacation with friends and I didn’t run. Previously, I was in Paris for two years and not many high [not much elevation available], so I was really afraid. I did this camp just to prepare for the race. And to be capable of doing the race afterward.
iRunFar: Just in the last year-and-a-half of running, you’ve had some incredible results. You were second here in the 85k race last year, you won the TDS, I think you were second to Mimmi Kotka at the Mont-Blanc 90k. Just a string of really good results and this. What’s the story? Did you just find you were so good at the first one that you did another one and it turned out? And then you did another one and it turned out well, too?
Tanguy: Exactly, that’s it. I didn’t know, when I met Antoine Guillon, he told me [I had potential]. I didn’t realize it. I did a race and I was sixth in general. It’s a French race. I was really happy. After, I did many races and the races were really good, but I didn’t expect that at all. Every time I am really happy.
iRunFar: Wow, that’s fantastic. Let’s talk about yesterday’s race just a little bit. The race started at night and involved about seven hours of running in darkness. Did you have a feel for where you were in the women’s field? Did you know that you were close to the front, even though it was dark?
Tanguy: Yes, for sure. Because in this race it was really strange–during the first nine hours, we were four [women running together] for second place. Courtney Dauwalter was before us, but behind her we were four and we just passed each other all the time. I saw Mimmi, I saw Katie Schide, of course, because I ran with her for 10 hours. We are friends, so that was really cool to share that race with Katie. I saw Maite Maiora, too. Yeah, I knew.
iRunFar: You knew how the race was going. Now, having been nervous right up until the race started, did you feel comfortable at some point in the nighttime that it was going to be an okay race for you?
Tanguy: Actually, I was good at the start.
iRunFar: It was just getting to the start that you were nervous.
Tanguy: Yeah, exactly [laughs]. That was terrible, actually. Once the race started, I was okay, I was good.
iRunFar: Later in the race, you and your friend Katie spent a long time together, but eventually you separated. She went on ahead, but you still had very strong splits to the finish–faster than the women behind you. How were the late stages of the race for you? Was it really difficult?
Tanguy: Yeah, it was really difficult, because I had–oh, how do you say it?–hypoglycemia, not enough sugar.
iRunFar: You were bonking.
Tanguy: I was really bad. After, I was lost for maybe five or 10 minutes.
iRunFar: You went off the trail?
Tanguy: Yeah, and after I fell. So many things happened [laughs].
iRunFar: You had all of the problems.
Tanguy: Yeah, my legs were broken, so that was really hard. I was afraid of Maite coming behind me. It was really hard but after I felt more comfortable and the end was okay, but really long.
iRunFar: 115k is a long way.
Tanguy: Yeah, it’s a long way!
iRunFar: But in the end, even though there were highs and lows, do you feel happy with your podium placement?
Tanguy: Yes, of course. I’m really happy. I think I couldn’t do a better place yesterday, with the conditions and everything. I wasn’t in super shape. I did everything I could, so yes, I’m really happy.
iRunFar: Cool. What are you looking forward to in the rest of your racing season? What else will you race?
Tanguy: I will do Lavaredo Ultra Trail in June, and after, TDS again. With Courtney–cool!
iRunFar: A rematch!
Tanguy: Yeah, I’ll try [laughs].
iRunFar: Those are all Ultra-Trail World Tour races, also.
iRunFar: Are you officially trying to place in the Ultra-Trail World Tour?
Tanguy: I don’t know. Maybe. I will try.
iRunFar: Well, we’ve almost officially lost all of our daylight here. The end of Sunday has come. Congratulations again on your podium finish and we’ll see you down the trail.
Tanguy: Thank you.