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.
[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.