Beñat Marmissolle of France performed like clockwork to take second at the 2023 Hardrock 100. In this interview, Beñat talks about how he tried to run within himself all race long, what it was like to run solo in a place as wild as Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, and if he’d like to participate in this event again someday.
For more on how the race played out, read our in-depth Hardrock 100 results article.
Beñat Marmissolle Post-2023 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Beñat Marmissolle. It’s the day after the 2023 Hardrock 100. Félicitations, congratulations, Beñat.
Beñat Marmissolle: Thank you very much.
iRunFar: It’s the day after the race. How is your body, and how is your mind feeling today?
Marmissolle: [In French, via translator] So, I was able to sleep very well last night. My body’s feeling great, and also I’m incredibly happy of the race in general.
iRunFar: Now that it’s one day after Hardrock, what does your mind feel about the race? What’s your full impression of the experience?
Marmissolle: Yeah, well, first I’m speechless about it. The mountains, they were gorgeous. You rarely see something so gorgeous in a 100-mile ultramarathon. This is a wonderful race.
iRunFar: It seems like you managed your race so well. You were consistent in your speed from start to finish. Did it feel that way for you out there?
Marmissolle: Yeah, I mean, that’s exactly how it felt to me. I had my game plan. I was racing my own race, following my pace. As you know, I didn’t have a pacer all race long. I was by myself and just really racing my own race and not thinking about anyone else. And I was able to stay constant in terms of speed and strength the whole time.
iRunFar: In your mind, were you running as a competitor? Thinking about the men in front of you, and behind you, or were you entirely trying to run within yourself and however the competition happened, it happened?
Marmissolle: Yeah, so of course I was aware of who was ahead of me, who was behind me, how far they were. But in general, I think you should avoid falling into the trap of focusing too much on where the gap is increasing or decreasing. You have to think about what you can do and cannot do to make sure that you have a good race. So yes, I was aware of Aurélien [Dunand-Pallaz] ahead of me and people behind me, and I just kept on my race and kept on going.
iRunFar: For races here in America, this course is among the wildest. Like, you can’t really have a race in America in a much wilder place. And you chose to run through the night without a pacer. You were all by yourself in one of the wildest places that a race can be. What was that like for you?
Marmissolle: Yeah, well. Yeah, I was actually very excited about that. When you think about it, I’m a beast myself and I was eager for the night to come and hear these noises around me and have the wildlife. I was not scared at all. In fact, I was excited about it.
iRunFar: So did you see any wildlife? We talked a lot in your pre-race interview about bears and about potential wildlife. What did you see?
Marmissolle: Yeah, I did come across many animals, but in particular, there was a bear that came. There was a bear on the trail when I was coming by myself. And usually bears, I’ve seen eight bears in the last three weeks, but usually they just run away. But this time, he was a little more curious. So, he looked at me, and he started going in my direction, and I had to talk with him. I said, “[a phrase in French]” But unfortunately, the bear doesn’t speak French. So, he didn’t understand. But eventually he moved the side of the trail. And then he just kept looking at me impressed by how strong of a runner I am.
iRunFar: [laughs] So, can we say maybe half of that was the truth and half was the story?
Marmissolle: No, no.
iRunFar: It’s true.
Marmissolle: It’s all true. Yes, yes. Yes.
iRunFar: The bear does not speak French. This is very funny.
Marmissolle: That’s the ninth bear I saw, and none of them speak French.
iRunFar: I’ve checked with every one of them. Was that in the nighttime or the daytime? Did you have fear? I think most people would have, for a bear not running away from you, and then especially alone in the middle of the race. Like, I think I would have a lot of fear.
Marmissolle: Yes. I was a little worried, but I did have some pretty good cookies in my bag. So, I knew maybe I could feed him that.
iRunFar: [laughs] I love this. Passing through the night in this wild place. So not so much fear, but more like wonder and joy to be able to do this by yourself.
Marmissolle: Yeah, that’s exactly right. More excited than scared or anything.
iRunFar: I really enjoyed the look on your face and the celebration that you made with your family at the finish line yesterday. Can you share a little bit about how that felt and what that was like for you?
Marmissolle: Yeah, I mean that’s a very personal experience, and of course so many emotions coming out all at once. So many things happening. Yeah, I mean, first of all, just this race in general, Hardrock in general, it’s a fantastic experience. I loved it. And it was such an incredible feeling, even just to finish this race. It’s a very challenging race. And then to be able to finish behind Aurélien [Dunand-Pallaz], which he had a fantastic race, he was very strong all day long. He really deserved to win. But for me, to finish second, that’s a dream come true. And this is a victory for me, of course, but also all for my family that are supporting me the whole year. Day in and day out. It’s, yes, I was running this weekend, but they’re there the full year to support me. And they were there to spectate, which feels wonderful.
iRunFar: And for the folks watching, we have a really big audience for this interview. The whole family is watching us have this interview. There is a certain spirit that is the Hardrock race. And for me, when I see you, it seems like you match that spirit, and that spirit matches you. Is this a race or a place that you think you’ll come back to someday?
Marmissolle: Yeah, I mean, first of all, thank you. I mean, this race is fantastic. And I appreciate the sentiment. I think the spirit here is fantastic. And when I look at it, the Hardrock 100 is one of the top three best races in the world, in my mind. But also, it keeps this vibe, this small race vibe. It’s a smaller race than say, UTMB in terms of the crowd of racers, but also just the whole town in general. And this is my first time in America. I would like to thank everyone here. What I know about America really is Silverton, and people were fantastic here. Very welcoming, very nice to me and my family. I want to thank everyone here, from the race organization, volunteers in general. And if I want to be back? Yes, of course. As soon as possible. Next year, if possible. That would be great.
iRunFar: Thank you so much for the interview. Congratulations on your second-place finish at the 2023 Hardrock 100, and I hope to see you again another year.
Marmissolle: Thank you very much. Merci beaucoup.