France’s Thibaut Garrivier is racing the 2019 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships because he wants to experience the USA’s trail running culture and California’s trails. In this interview, we talk about Thibaut’s 2019 in racing as well as the injury he got and recovered from, how he’s prepared to race on a new-to-him kind of terrain, and what his travels in California have so far been like.
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Thibaut Garrivier. It’s the day before the 2019 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships. Good morning.
Thibaut Garrivier: Good morning.
iRunFar: Welcome to the U.S., but you have been here adventuring and traveling for a week?
Garrivier: Yeah, we’ve been one week traveling through California. From Lake Tahoe, and then Yosemite, and then visiting Hoka One One buildings in Santa Monica. So we spent a very good week there.
iRunFar: You had a big week already before even the 50-mile race starts.
Garrivier: Yeah actually we didn’t, we went on the race just to discover some parts and we just visit and not so much trail running during this week.
iRunFar: So when you first arrived to California you were here in Marin looking at the course, is that right?
Garrivier: Yeah, yeah. We spent two days on the race on the course to discover the special runnable race for me, so it will be very fast and succession of up and down, so there is not so much a flat section. No technical section. But I’m very excited to race there because it will be my first time in such a runnable race.
iRunFar: That’s always something I’m so interested to learn about is when somebody comes from Western Europe where it’s usually quite a lot steeper and quite a lot more technical, what you think of a course like this.
Garrivier: Yeah, I would say that I’m very excited to discover this. I like running fast, fast running. I have to discover how I am in this special race, especially compared to top athletes, Seb Spehler and maybe Jared [Hazen] and Dylan Bowman. So these are I think top runners in the world on this runnable race, so.
iRunFar: It’ll be fun for you to try something new.
Garrivier: Yeah, yeah. Very fun. I think I will start with Seb. I will try to follow him and then we will see. Maybe. He’s very, very fast in uphill so I try to grip him.
iRunFar: Try to stay in contact.
Garrivier: Yes. Stay in contact and yeah. I think I will have a good Hoka One One crew during the race so, to my nature at aid station, so it will be very helpful. Yeah. Hopefully it will work.
iRunFar: Let’s talk for a minute about your 2019 season in running. You’ve had really great success. You were first at the Transvulcania Ultramarathon and second at CCC. You must feel really good about your year in running so far.
Garrivier: Yeah. Actually it’s a very special year for me because I started very good with winning Transvulcania in mid-May and then I was injured during maybe four months.
Garrivier: Yeah I didn’t race during Skyrunning World Series, which was one of my first objectives of this year, so I was very disappointed and I come back and try running maybe in the start of August, and then I ran CCC.
Garrivier: But I was very, very motivated and excited to race so I pushed very hard and yeah the result was very surprising to me to finish second there behind Luis Alberto [Hernando] which was a great performance for me. So it’s kind of a very special year.
iRunFar: Can I ask what your injury was?
Garrivier: It was a tenosynovitis of the tibialis posterior. So it took a long time.
iRunFar: To recover.
Garrivier: To recover.
iRunFar: So was your second at CCC then kind of surprising, that you were injured and only had a little training?
Garrivier: Yeah. Very surprising and I keep very motivated and keep cycling during July, August. I started actually running in mid-July during one of the Skyrunner World Series in Spain but I didn’t finish because it hurt too much. So I take a few, few times to recover, to fully recover.
iRunFar: Wow. When did The North Face 50 come on your schedule? Have you been thinking about it all summer or has it been since your fitness has been coming back? How did you decide to come here?
Garrivier: Yeah it’s more like I started to think about it in September as I was initially planning to race in the [mountain running long distance] world championships.
Garrivier: Which is tomorrow.
iRunFar: Happening right now. Long distance tomorrow.
Garrivier: Long distance, yeah. And then there was a new situation to take me off so yeah. I decided to plan a race which I was dreaming of and it was a long race, about 50 miles, so it was there, or maybe SaintéLyon in December. And I choose there because this super place and discovering California and American runners and I enjoy to race with and against the others there.
iRunFar: Very interesting. Do you change your training at all? Because SaintéLyon is more runnable than some races in Europe, but it’s still much more hilly than this. Have you been practicing faster terrain?
Garrivier: Yeah, actually I had to train more on flat sections to recover to get more speed. It came back at a good pace for, I did good trainings at good pace, so I’m quite confident for this part, but what I am more not so much confident is a succession of very, very fast downhill. So I think it will be very damaging for the muscle and it will be okay for a 50k to 60k and then we will see.
iRunFar: And then you will tolerate the pain.
Garrivier: And the uphills are not so much steep. So the gradient is average I think 10 to 15% so it’s a very runnable uphill section so I think for most of it it will be very, very, very hard.
iRunFar: Very fatiguing to the muscles.
iRunFar: Well best of luck to you in trying something new and running around the Marin Headlands tomorrow, and we look forward to chasing you around.
Garrivier: Yeah, thank you very much.
iRunFar: Good luck to you.
Garrivier: Thank you.
iRunFar: Alright I have a fun bonus question for you. You’ve been traveling around California. What’s been the most favorite thing you’ve seen in the last week?
Garrivier: I like very much South Lake Tahoe area. It’s the area we said we will spend more, more days to hike, run, and bike, mountain biking for sure.
iRunFar: You want to go back.
Garrivier: Yeah. For sure.
iRunFar: Very cool. Alright good luck to you.
Garrivier: Thank you, Meghan.
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