Sébastien Spehler made his U.S. trail-racing debut at the 2019 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, where he took second place. In the following interview, Seb talks about where he had difficulties in the race, whether he’s satisfied with his performance, what he learned along the way, and where he’ll race later this year.
For more on how the race played out, read our Lake Sonoma 50 results article.
[Thanks to Anne-Marie Madden for translating.]
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Seb Spehler after his second-place finish at the 2019 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. Congratulations, Seb.
Sébastien Spehler: Thank you, thank you [laughs].
iRunFar: Today was a very strong race for you. For a good portion of the race, you were in the lead or pushing the pace. How did you feel for the first half?
Spehler: [with assistance with translation from Anne-Marie Madden] I felt pretty good. I felt maybe a little tired or stale, but I was pushing it and for my first race in the U.S., I’m very happy.
iRunFar: I heard from talking to Jared Hazen after the race that every time you would come to a small climb, you would run fast as you approached and then climb fast.
Spehler: It wasn’t on purpose [laughs].
iRunFar: So, you were in the lead for much of the race. When did Jared catch you?
Spehler: Around 45 or 50 kilometers, I felt like I became a bit hypoglycemic and had low blood sugar. Overall, though, I’m still very happy.
iRunFar: While you were running in second place, did you think at any point that you could pass Jared again?
Spehler: No, I wasn’t feeling good by that point, so I didn’t think I could.
iRunFar: Were you thinking more of Tom Evans behind you?
Spehler: I felt hypoglycemic for 15k, so I just decided to forget about Jared ahead of me and really try to hang onto second place.
iRunFar: Were you able to correct the hypoglycemia? Were you able to eat and feel better?
Spehler: So, I think it was the hypoglycemia, but then there was also the heat and the time change. Also, races in France are not that fast. Running an entire race at that pace is not something that we usually have back home. It was probably a combination of all those factors.
iRunFar: Are you satisfied with your U.S. debut?
Spehler: Frankly, I really enjoyed it. I found the U.S. experience entertaining. I liked seeing everyone saying, “Good job!” and encouraging the racers. I feel like I discovered an entirely new way of racing on trail.
iRunFar: And what is that new way of racing on trails?
Spehler: At the start of the race there were men with no shirts on and I felt like people didn’t have a lot of gear. I felt like I had a lot of gear and at home people carry a lot of gear. I really like this style of running lighter. People here seem to run with less and just push the pace and run light.
iRunFar: Do you think you’ll try to run with less gear in the future?
Spehler: Yeah, for the right course. It seems like a super-quick approach: Jared would get into aid stations and spend 20 seconds at most. It seemed to take me a lot longer to get my stuff and gear, so it seems like a good way to go.
iRunFar: Were there any surprises or anything you really enjoyed today?
Spehler: It was the ambience. I really loved it.
iRunFar: What else do you have on your race schedule this season?
Spehler: The plan was for a road marathon soon, in Belgium, and then the Mont-Blanc Marathon–the 23k distance. Then Sierre-Zinal and Les Templiers. Then maybe I’ll come back to the U.S. if everything goes well with the rest of the season and I’ll run The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships in San Fransisco.
iRunFar: That would be very exciting. The course is very similar to Lake Sonoma, I think you’d like it. So, does that mean you’ve decided against accepting the Golden Ticket to run the Western States 100?
Spehler: I don’t think at the moment that the distance I ran today is what I want to do. I’m not really currently looking to do a 100 miler. I’m sure to some people that sounds totally crazy to turn down the ticket, but I don’t regret it at all.
iRunFar: That’s great. Congratulations on a great run and we’ll see you soon. And Anne-Marie, congratulations on your own eighth-place finish today! Nice work and thank you for your help.
An essay about how good and bad days are natural in a lifetime of running.