Pau Capell has seen repeated success at the UTMB family of races, including taking sixth at UTMB itself in 2017. In the following interview, Pau talks about why he likes to run his own race, where he’d like to start pushing the pace, and why the unpredictability of the result makes ultrarunning special.
Pau Capell Pre-2019 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Pau Capell before his 2019 UTMB. How are you Pau?
Pau Capell: Good, good.
iRunFar: Back in Chamonix.
Capell: Yeah, always, every year it’s this date at the same, back in Chamonix and try to enjoy the atmosphere of the race and also run the big one.
iRunFar: How long have you been here in Chamonix?
Capell: In Chamonix, one week ago. I was in Tines one week also, sleeping on the altitude so training there. And now in Chamonix tapering, running a little bit and rest.
iRunFar: And you feel good when you taper, you seem happy and relaxed?
Capell: Yeah, it’s easy, just relax because the job is done, so it’s time to think about the race, bit of relax and yeah. Try to think in your family, in your things but not in the race because if you focus a lot in the race then you start so much stress, better try to sleep and relax.
iRunFar: You have figured this out?
iRunFar: You have performed well here before, both at the CCC and you have been sixth at UTMB. Do you think you can improve upon that?
Capell: The sixth at UTMB I think that we can improve for sure, because its sixth position so always can improve. I won the TDS three years ago and it was amazing, the feeling when I was arriving at the finish line of UTMB, it was I think the best finish line that I have lived so I would like to repeat but in UTMB it’s difficult. The competitors are very strong so I will try to be smart in the race, less tomorrow and then tried to finish with force.
iRunFar: Do you think that’s a challenge to be smart in this race? I mean there are so many strong runners who go out fast.
Capell: Because the start is too fast, to Les Houches is flat and you can run a lot so the people run less than four minutes per kilometer, so it’s fast to start but you need to be calm and be smart also.
iRunFar: So you think you will be, off the front? You hope to be.
Capell: I would like, I would like but then when you start you never know what happens. I would like to start may be behind, and then if the race is on my way I try to improve and pass people and arrive to the top.
iRunFar: Where do you think that you would like to start pushing the race?
Capell: I think in Courmayeur is the best start of the race in UTMB, but we say this and then in Courmayeur his 75 km so you arrive there and you are tired. So, for sure, I will try to survive the first part and then the second part try to push if I have force. I would like to finish with feelings. This is my objective.
iRunFar: Yeah. You’ve run a lot of races both of the last two years, but I was looking at your results and your time for Transgrancanaria and your time at the Tenerife Marathon are within a few seconds both years.
Capell: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I try to always, my strategy is if I feel good with one time try to do a little bit less, but not a lot less because you know when you run a race you run with your hundred percent so then if you want to do less time maybe you will explode. It’s better, it’s like Xavier [Thévenard]. Xavier is very smart he always running the same pace, but he run really good and then he finish in front.
iRunFar: So that’s intentional, you know that you can run what is it, 12:42 or something at Grand Canaria, what was your time?
Capell: I think so.
iRunFar: But it’s – you have it figured out?
Capell: Yeah, I think that this is my time and then if one year I feel better I can improve, but I think that when you finish and you know that the time that you have done is good.
iRunFar: The next year you’re not trying to run 11:42.
Capell: No, because maybe you will not arrive in the finish line.
iRunFar: What are you most excited about for on Saturday, or Friday night?
Capell: I don’t know, UTMB is an amazing race. Not only for the race because I have run a lot of hundred miles, in Patagonia, UTMB, and other races it is more the leaving that you are – what do you leave when you are running here so you are doing the loop in Mont-Blanc and you arrive in Bertone and Bonatti, the Italian part, and you are, in your legs, 90 kilometers so you look the mountain, you look at Mont-Blanc and you say wow, I need to do more than half race so this is the feeling that is alive. Real life.
iRunFar: Yeah. So you are excited and ready to go?
Capell: Yeah, I am excited to run so I will try to run good and then the important thing is arrive in the finish line. So if you arrive on the finish line I think that I will do our job.
iRunFar: I mean if we look back to last year, so many of the top men didn’t arrive at the finish line.
Capell: Yeah. And this is the special thing of ultra trails. So before the start you can say this one or this one can win but then when you start the race is the race and you need to be smart and you need to eat, you need to be calm in the first part because if you try to push a lot then you won’t arrive.
iRunFar: Even at 50 km, if we look at Ludovic Pommeret [2016 UTMB Champion]. He had stomach problems.
Capell: For sure. And he was maybe one hour and 30 [minutes] behind the leader and then he started to run good and he won the UTMB so it’s too long, it’s 20 hours race so we will see.
iRunFar: So even someone like Xavier, who on paper seems like how can people beat him? You never know.
Capell: Yeah, that’s it. Xavier has the best strategy that he runs with his time and then he say that if the other runners run faster than me, it’s all good. And if not, I will win.
iRunFar: So it sounds like you have a similar strategy, hopefully it works.
Capell: Yeah, I think so. It will be the best thing that I could do but I don’t know, then may be we start and the Americans start so fast and we want to pull behind them. And the race, it goes, it will be crazy. So I will try to be smart on the first part of the race.
iRunFar: So maybe not follow Zach Miller so much?
Capell: I think so. Because Zach and Hayden [Hawks], I think that they will start really fast and then Tim [Tollefson] is maybe the more European runner, can run like us but Zach and Hayden I think that they will start too fast.
iRunFar: Good luck running your own race and enjoy it.
Capell: Thank you so much.