France’s Camille Bruyas just keeps improving, and this time it was a second place at the 2021 UTMB. In our first interview with Camille, she talks about what her background in running is, how she really found trail running while living on Réunion Island, how she ran UTMB by managing her own feelings throughout the race, and what it felt like to take second at UTMB.
For more on what happened during the race, check out our UTMB results article for the play-by-play and links to other post-race interviews.
Camille Bruyas Post-2021 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Camille Bruyas. It’s the day after the 2021 UTMB where you were the second-place finisher. Congratulations, Camille.
Camille Bruyas: Thank you. Thank you very much.
iRunFar: How are you feeling the day after taking second at the UTMB?
Bruyas: I don’t realize now. [laughs] Because it was too hard. And yesterday night was difficult. But today, I think I realized a little.
iRunFar: This is iRunFar’s first interview with you. How long have you been running? When did you come to the sport?
Bruyas: I start running on the tracks in when I was 18. And after I traveled to Réunion Island for work. And to discover the island. It’s more easy to do trail running there. So I started trail running in 2016.
iRunFar: And your rise to the sport is going, you’re progressing in the sport so evenly, and now your level is so high. How have you improved yourself over the years? Is it with practice? Is it changing your training?
Bruyas: I don’t know. I change the distance. So in each distance you discover yourself, discover where you are the best, I think. So, I don’t know. I think I’m best in 100k.
Bruyas: But I tried different distances. So yes, I improved with experience, I think. And the training yes. Until two years ago I have a coach for myself. Before it was a coach for the club, athletic club. So I think it’s a big difference, too.
iRunFar: This is your second 100 miler. I think you ran Diagonale des Fous while you were living on Réunion?
Bruyas: Yes, exactly. My first 100 miles was three years ago. And it was too long and too difficult. [laughs] And at the finish line it’s like never, never again. But today I can do. Yeah.
iRunFar: So what made you want to run UTMB again, to do this again? What made you decide, okay 100 miles, I’ll try it again?
Bruyas: One per year. But not always doing really, really long, long distance. For me 100k it’s good. One hundred miles [is] more and it’s a big, big gap. So I have to, to manage a lot on the to, yeah, but maybe one per year, yeah, it’s okay.
iRunFar: Let’s talk about the race for a moment. You seemed to be in such good spirits. Every time iRunFar saw you along the course you were smiling. Happy. Calm.
Bruyas: Yeah, because I decided to run.
Bruyas: You have to run. It’s…
iRunFar: A choice.
Bruyas: Yeah, it’s a choice. So you have to, to feel all the nature, the people, the views. And for me it’s big energy so, so I love this sport for this.
iRunFar: Yeah. You ran near the front of the race for most of the time. Were you running comfortably within yourself? Were you trying to maintain a certain amount of gap from the other women? What was your strategy?
Bruyas: No strategy. [laughs]
iRunFar: No strategy. [laughs]
Bruyas: Because at the beginning, you have to listen to yourself. And after, yeah, I have strategy because Mimmi [Kotka] is just in front of me until the middle of the race, so I know I’m focused on this. But at the beginning I’m focused on myself.
iRunFar: You were running in podium position for quite a long time. Many kilometers. When did you start thinking to yourself, “Oh, maybe I can podium at UTMB?”
Bruyas: At the finish line. [laughs]
iRunFar: Not till then.
Bruyas: Yeah, because you can fall on the last downhill so only on the finish line you say, “Okay, it’s okay.”
iRunFar: You and Mimmi were close for a while and then you passed her to overtake second position. Can you tell me about that time?
Bruyas: Yeah, every people says Mimmi was not very good until Courmayeur because she fell before Courmayeur. And then saying okay, I feel good. I can. But she was really, really strong. She’d fallen but in her mind so she go fast. And in the second uphill at the end after Trient I see her on the downhill and I see she’s not really, really good. So I know it’s okay if I pass her. It’s okay.
iRunFar: So it was the second to last downhill that you passed Mimmi.
Bruyas: Yeah. At Vallorcine.
iRunFar: The last climb is very difficult up to Tête aux Vents. Were you looking over your shoulder for her or just running, just going?
Bruyas: Just going. I never look back.
iRunFar: [laughs] I think that’s a smart move. What did it feel like to be here on the finish line, to finish second place at UTMB?
Bruyas: Um, I have a lot of friends here. My own, my family. So I when I see they are crying, so me too.
iRunFar: You did have tears, but they looked like happy tears.
Bruyas: Yeah, for sure. Happy and tired, too.
iRunFar: You were saying before this interview that your dad is a volunteer for the race?
Bruyas: Yeah, for the TDS.
iRunFar: Ah, for the TDS. And what did he do?
Bruyas: It was in the security for the, how do you say, when a runner is not good.
iRunFar: Ah. Got it.
Bruyas: Like a medicine.
iRunFar: Like an emergency type thing.
iRunFar: Well it sounds like he had, he might have had a tough job this week.
Bruyas: Yeah. [laughs]
iRunFar: Congratulations to you on your second-place finish at the 2021 UTMB, Camille.
Bruyas: Thank you.