France’s Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz returns to the 2022 UTMB after placing second at last year’s race. In the following interview, Aurélien talks about how recently becoming a father affected his running, why he seemed to take a big step forward in 2021, how a cycling accident delayed his 2022 season, and what he hopes to get out of this year’s UTMB.
For more on who’s running this year’s UTMB, check out our men’s and women’s previews before following our UTMB live coverage starting on Friday.
[Thanks to Nicolas Guérard for the translation!]
Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz Pre-2022 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here, with Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz before the 2022 UTMB. How are you?
Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz: I’m doing good, I’m happy to be here. Shape is pretty good at the moment, so happy to be at the start of the UTMB.
iRunFar: Great. First I must congratulate you on becoming a father. How was that?
Dunand-Pallaz: Well obviously, I’m really proud of it but everything is going pretty well at the moment so I could be okay with my race prep, so far so that’s okay.
iRunFar: Great. Another congratulations on your 2021 season. You won Transgrancanaria. You were second at UTMB, third at Ultra Pirineu [100k]. What changed for you last year?
Dunand-Pallaz: I would say that for me it didn’t change so many things. I still do not feel so much more pressure. And I would say that yeah, the pressure is on other big favorites like Kilian [Jornet] or Jim [Walmsley]. And there are a lot of other runners that could do great results.
iRunFar: And you’ve been a strong runner for many years but 2021 was your strongest season to date. Did your training change or was it just more time in the sport? What was different?
Dunand-Pallaz: Well there hasn’t been so many changes in my training. I would say that 2020 and 2021, due to COVID-19, there was no racing so people couldn’t see the improvements I had. But it was just the normal progression I would say. Yeah, not many things changed but steady improvement I would say.
iRunFar: This year you raced a little less than in the past, obviously you had a child in July but were there any other reasons to race less?
Dunand-Pallaz: Well, I fell while riding my bike at the end of 2021, so it changed a little bit at the beginning of the season. That’s why I didn’t go to the MIUT [Madeira Island Ultra-Trail]. But I trained well to try to do both the UTMB and the Diagonale des Fous. So I should be in good shape.
iRunFar: And you feel very strong, your training has gone very well since you recovered from that bike accident?
Dunand-Pallaz: Yeah, I trained very well since May, June. Had very good months of training, so I would say my prep is optimum at the moment so no reason not to have a good result.
iRunFar: Well, you had a great result last year, you were second. What do you want from this year’s race?
Dunand-Pallaz: Well I did less than 21 hours last year so it would be a good thing if I can get close to this or even go a little bit higher. And if I can run that fast, then it should mean I could have a good result. Yeah, it will also depend on the weather and other runners of course.
iRunFar: It’s not so much position maybe, it’s time or just having a very good feeling?
Dunand-Pallaz: Until Courmayeur, I won’t be looking at the classifications too much. Afterwards, at this specific moment, I will see how I feel, who I am with, and then I will see what I can hope and expect from this race.
iRunFar: Merci beaucoup et bonne chance.
Dunand-Pallaz: Thank you.
iRunFar: Thank you.