Pau Capell has won Transgrancanaria three-straight years and is back again to give it another go this year. In the following interview, Pau talks about why he’s so good at this race, why he’s improved so much over the past half decade, and how he balances racing or training too much with staying fresh.
Pau Capell Pre-2020 Transgrancanaria Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Pau Capell before the 2020 Transgrancanaria. How are you, Pau?
Pau Capell: I’m good, yeah.
iRunFar: The first time I interviewed you was before the 2017 Transgrancanaria and you haven’t lost a Transgrancanaria since then.
Capell: No. I love this race. For me, it’s the first big race of the year. Every year it is going good, so I try to repeat [come back to it and repeat as winner]. It is maybe superstition, but I’m very happy to be here again.
iRunFar: What makes you so strong at this race in particular?
Capell: I don’t know. We train a lot in Barcelona. Before this race, I prefer to train a lot in December and January with the skiers with this race. I think it’s a good advantage for me to arrive here with good performance. I think this race is good for me with not a lot of big uphills. It’s runnable sometimes… for me [adding that caveat at Bryon’s prompting] and for others, but yeah [laughs]. I like it for this. Yeah, for me it’s good to start in Gran Canaria.
iRunFar: I hadn’t thought about how you were in Barcelona. It’s not so cold. For many of the North American and European runners, it’s a little challenging to run in the mountains right now. But you have good training conditions.
Capell: Yeah, I can train well in Barcelona. I have the Pyrenees one hour and 10 minutes away, so all the distances are shorter and I can choose different kinds of mountains. But I love my mountains in Barcelona. They’re really runnable mountains, short mountains, but for me they are really good. I won UTMB with these mountains.
iRunFar: Yeah, so like Montserrat, Montseny…
Capell: Yeah, and then you have the Catalan Pyrenees in an hour and 15 [minutes].
iRunFar: And the heat is not a problem for you [at this race] because you train in a similar temperature.
Capell: Yeah. Maybe here it is a little bit warmer and humid, but it’s not a problem for me. I love the hot weather.
iRunFar: What do you think has been the main reason for your improvement over these last five or six years? You were strong to start, but you’ve gotten better and better.
Capell: I think it’s the passion. The main thing is the passion. I also try to do things I’m the best at. I’ve never thought about, I want to win UTMB next year. It’s not possible. So, year by year, I wanted to do a little bit of steps with my training and my condition and improve slowly but constantly. Finally, we arrive here with good results.
iRunFar: What were the changes you made going into last year?
Capell: Maybe nothing [laughs]. I trained the same, maybe the same. The body is super intelligent, so when you train a lot, the body knows it and tries to improve and recover faster. I have a doctor, a physiotherapist, a nutritionist. All of this is helpful for me.
iRunFar: So, you have a big team?
Capell: Yes, I have a big team. I have a family. This is the most important thing: The feelings that you have, the people that you love. If these people are coming with you, then the race is easier.
iRunFar: Looking at your calendar for the last two years, you run a lot of races. What is the reason for that? You’ve seen success…
Capell: It’s because I love it. I love to run and I normally run 10 or 12 races per year. But, yeah, the important thing is that not all of the races are main goals. So, for 2020 I have Transgrancanaria, Madeira Island Ultra-Trail, and UTMB as my main goals. Then I have second level and third level of races. In every level I try to do my best, but I know that I arrive for my first-level races at 100% of my performance [capacity].
iRunFar: You may go to a 50k or 80k race around the Pyrenees, but it’s not the same.
Capell: It’s not the same and then if I don’t want to push, I don’t need to push. I need to push in Transgrancanaria and Madeira and UTMB.
iRunFar: Gotcha. Do you ever worry that you race too much?
Capell: Sometimes I think that it’s too much. Sometimes I think that I would prefer to stay at home, training. That’s why my calendar is changing during the year. Maybe for this year I have one plan, but maybe in April or June I will change it a little bit depending on my legs. But… I like to run.
iRunFar: Do you make that decision based on your legs and your mind? Or is it also in communication with your team?
Capell: Both. First, you need to listen to your body. Then, depending on how you’re feeling, you need to talk with the team and decide.
iRunFar: Now, I know you said this is one of your three main races for this season, but Tuesday we talked and you ran 30-something kilometers on Tuesday. To someone like me, that sounds like a lot. What is the specific reason for that?
Capell: Because I have to run for two hours and 30 minutes for training. I didn’t want to run a lot this week, but finally I’m here, I have the mountains and I wanted to test a little bit how I was feeling on the terrain. Yeah, I did 33k, but I knew that I had three more days to recover and it was good. Today I feel good.
iRunFar: Just looking at you, you seem excited for this race. Are you still excited to come back to Transgrancanaria, and for another season?
Capell: Yeah. Sometimes it’s complicated to repeat races because you know the route, you know the uphills, you know the time that you need to run between checkpoints. Sometimes it’s boring. It’s not adventure. But this is the first race and it’s almost a superstition. I like to come. Maybe if this Sunday is not a good race for me, maybe next year I will change the strategy, but I hope that Saturday will be really good.
iRunFar: Well, best of luck. I hope you enjoy the race this weekend.
Capell: Thank you.