Antoine Guillon took second at the 2016 Diagonale des Fous and, in doing so, achieved his 10th finish of this race. In this interview, Antoine talks about how he’ll be back to race DdF again, what is special enough about this race to make it an annual part of his racing calendar, and how his race for second place played out.
For more on the race, check out our 2016 Diagonale des Fous results article.
[Thanks to Florian Darruyre for his translation assistance.]
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Antoine Guillon Post-2016 Diagonale Des Fous Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and it’s the end of the 2016 Diagonale des Fous. The awards ceremony has just happened. I’m with men’s second-place finisher, Antoine Guillon. Congratulations.
Antoine Guillon: Thank you.
iRunFar: This is your 10th finish at Diagonale des Fous. What’s going through your head right now?
Guillon: It’s a grand sensation. It’s a big achievement. I thought a long time ago to do ten times at Diagonale des Fous in a row, and I did it. Every time I almost podiumed, so I’m very happy.
iRunFar: You have just said that 10 times is not enough. You are going to return to Diagonale des Fous again.
Guillon: Yes, I just found a new membership for 10 more, so I have to come back.
iRunFar: What is it about this race, this island, that brings you and your family back year after year?
Guillon: The great atmosphere not only around the course but on the island, and the beautiful landscapes.
iRunFar: It makes it easy for you to come back.
Guillon: I don’t wonder about coming back, I just come anyway. I don’t worry about it.
iRunFar: I think I’m getting in your head a little bit. Let’s talk a little bit about this weekend’s race. How did the race start off for you? How were your feelings? Were your feelings good in the beginning?
Guillon: I was confident because I was well-prepared. I couldn’t wait to leave on this big diagonal.
iRunFar: What is the night like? The first night, you go into the night and it’s the time of day when you’d normally be sleeping. You’re expected to work and work hard. You’re going out into a remote place at night. What’s that like?
Guillon: The excitement keeps me focused, so I don’t think about the time of day or time of the start because I’m excited about racing. It’s more the second night when I feel more tired at that point. It’s more difficult the second night, but the first night is alright.
iRunFar: In 100 miles, there are always big highs and big lows. Where were your highs and lows during the weekend?
Guillon: The good times are basically the whole race because there was good pressure of the friends around the course. It’s always good times. The bad times are more the pressure from the runners behind. I have to run and run because the pressure is very hard from behind. I have to keep focused and run.
iRunFar: I want to ask you about the men who you were running with. You were very solidly in second position behind François D’haene until the end of the race when you were gaining on him, but there were always men close behind you in a train. Did you feel that? Did you know that? Did you see those runners?
Guillon: I wasn’t second from the start. I was second from 50k. I was in the top 10 before. When I was second, I felt Javier Dominguez and Gediminas Grinius from behind—very good runners. I had to keep focused until the end. The second part of the race, I had to keep focused because two very good runners were behind.
iRunFar: Yeah, from Cilaos until Maido, it was just four minutes, five minutes, six minutes between you and whoever was behind you. After that, you made a gap between Javi and you to 20 minutes.
Guillon: I made the gap after Sans Souci to 10 minutes and Chemin Ratineau to 15 minutes. After these two points, I was easier in the head.
iRunFar: Did you know you were closing so quickly on François in the last 20k? Did you know that the gap went from 80 minutes to 30 minutes in just a half marathon?
Guillon: I knew I was not very far from François, but because I was tired, I didn’t realize until the very end of the course after Grand Chaloupe. I was surprised it happened, not that I wished François to feel bad, but I was happy to be this close because François is a great runner. I was happy about this little gap at the end.
iRunFar: It’s a good comparable.
iRunFar: My last question for you. As an observer looking at the race from the outside in, it feels like the spiritual center of this race is the Cirque de Mafate. Does it feel like that as a runner? Can you feel the energy of the Réunion Island culture in Mafate?
Guillon: Yes, because when you enter Mafate, you know you are on your own. You don’t have assistance from outside. You have for a long time being on your own and running against yourself. You feel it. It’s very important. At the same time, it’s this part of the race that makes it very exciting and special to run. Also, the nature is very particular in Mafate—very wild and very beautiful. You can feel the energy from the nature in this amazing landscape and the very crazy landscape of Mafate.
iRunFar: Yeah, just a comment, going into Mafate and being in Mafate was a very energetic feeling as an observer. It was just around you everywhere.
Guillon: Yes, it’s impressive.
iRunFar: Congratulation to you on your second-place finish, your 10th finish at Diagonale des Fous. They declared you Reunionese last night.
Guillon: Thank you. Yes.
iRunFar: Congratulations again.
Guillon: Thank you.