France’s Antoine Guillon bettered his fifth-place finish at the 2014 Transgrancanaria with a third place this year. In this interview, hear how Antoine approached this race strategically, how the race actually played out, and if he’s satisfied with his performance.
For more on the race, read our 2015 Transgrancanaria results article.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Antoine Guillon Post-2015 TNF Transgrancanaria Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Antoine Guillon after his third-place finish at the 2015 The North Face Transgrancanaria. Congratulations, Antoine.
Antoine Guillon: Thank you.
iRunFar: Last year you were fifth at this race?
iRunFar: You were third this year, and the field may have been better. Are you happy with your race?
Guillon: I am very happy, yes. At the start, the runners were very, very fast. I began slowly for the beginning of the race.
iRunFar: You were back in the field early in the race. You were running your own race and trying to be conservative?
Guillon: I respect my body, yes, but despite the fact I had to be conservative, at the same time, I had to try to stay with the pack because I didn’t want to create a big, big gap.
iRunFar: You said you went out slowly, but you were still running very, very fast.
Guillon: After 60 kilometers, I was third. After another hour I was seventh because I was sick for one hour.
iRunFar: Your stomach?
Guillon: No, no. Energy. I ran slowly for one hour and then whoosh.
iRunFar: You tend to race conservatively, having watched. Do you enjoy catching competitors through a race? Does that help your mind?
Guillon: Yes. I saw Anton Krupicka just in front of me and it was motivation.
iRunFar: Being conservative is helpful physically because you can run a more even race, but mentally it is also helpful.
Guillon: Yes, very much.
iRunFar: Was there some point in the race where you felt very strong and decided to make a push for the podium?
Guillon: Yes, just before Teror. And after Garañón. I was waiting for the summit, and after that I pushed it. After, one marathon very fast. It was a good moment for me.
iRunFar: Even with one marathon remaining, you were not that far behind the leader, the front of the race. Did you think you could catch and win the race totally?
Guillon: Perhaps. The two runners, Gediminas Grinius and Didrik Hermansen were very strong. I saw Didrik Hermansen just two minutes ahead, but when he saw me—WHOOSH!—and he finished in front of me.
iRunFar: Having watched you race the last couple of years, you do so well at very tough races—Diagonale des Fous, UTMF, TDS, TDG. Are those the races you enjoy most?
Guillon: Diagonale des Fous—the panorama and the ambiance. Tor des Géants—for the adventures. All the other races are special and specific. Each race is different. You can’t tell which is better.
iRunFar: As opposed to a short, fast ultramarathon, do you prefer the longer, more difficult—they’re all difficult, but more climbing and technical?
Guillon: Yes, technical is my specialty in the long races.
iRunFar: Maybe the profile of Transgrancanaria at the end is not in your favor. It’s downhill and flat, but…
Guillon: Yes, but when I was young, I ran the road. I conserved the ability.
iRunFar: So you have run road marathons?
iRunFar: Your time?
iRunFar: But you’ve run other races like 10k and half marathons on those roads as well?
Guillon: No, no.
iRunFar: What other road races did you do before you were into ultra-trail?
Guillon: Paris-Versailles. 20-kilometer races.
iRunFar: So what is your history with endurance sports? How did you come to be Antoine Guillon with sport?
Guillon: When I was a child, my pleasure was to escape into the woods because I lived in a mountain area when I was only five years old.
iRunFar: When did you start running?
Guillon: At 12 years old.
iRunFar: You ran cross-country events?
Guillon: I didn’t like cross country. I preferred the long distance.
iRunFar: Even when you were young. So how many years have you been a runner?
Guillon: 32 years.
iRunFar: And you still find pleasure in it?
Guillon: Yes, sure.
iRunFar: In watching you in races, some people when they’re racing at the end of a long ultramarathon look like they’re in pain and they are fighting, you always seem to be at peace and tranquil no matter how hard you’re working.
Guillon: Yes, because it’s a different story because I’m a consistent runner. I still follow the same path. That’s why I finish well.
iRunFar: Mentally, you don’t seem to get upset; you’re not super high; you’re not low; mentally you seem even.
Guillon: It’s a great pleasure for me to be here, so my mind is still there. It’s like a game. It’s only a game. I don’t despair.
iRunFar: Do you have a favorite playing field? Do you have a favorite race?
Guillon: Yes, Diagonale des Fous.
iRunFar: You have been in the top-four positions seven times?
Guillon: I have been three times second, three times fourth, one time third.
iRunFar: So seven times in those top-four position.
Guillon: Last year I was twelfth because just before was Tor des Géants.
iRunFar: Oof. Bad idea maybe? Bad idea if you want to be competitive at it?
Guillon: Yes, sure.
iRunFar: But you still enjoyed it? Even if you were not competitive, did you still enjoy Diagonale des Fous last year?
Guillon: Yes, much, much. I get great pleasure even if I’m not really competing for a race. That’s why when I’m no longer competitive, I will still enter and run in competitions because it’s necessary for me because I love it. It’s my pleasure.
iRunFar: What competitions will you run this year? What’s on your schedule?
Guillon: Marathon des Sables, TNF 100k Australia, Ronda del Cims, TDS, Grand Raid de la Reunion…
iRunFar: Of course.
Guillon: Of course… and Transmartinique.
iRunFar: It’s a big schedule.
Guillon: Yes, eight [races].
iRunFar: Marathon des Sables is much different than Transgrancanaria. How do you compete in both well?
Guillon: For Transgrancanaria I didn’t change my habits of training. For Marathon des Sables I will make a lot of bicycle training.
Guillon: Because of the sand keeps moving and because my stride will be more flexible.
iRunFar: Will you train at all with a backpack on?
Guillon: No, I only walk with my backpack to preserve my joints.
iRunFar: So you will train your muscles and you’ll train your strength with the backpack, and during the race they come together.
Guillon: Yes, always. When I train, I want to preserve my body. After, everything will join the day of the race.
iRunFar: Congratulations on a great run at Transgrancanaria and good luck at Marathon des Sables and all of your schedule.
Guillon: Thank you.
[Editor’s Note: Thank you to Christophe Rochotte for the translation.]