Cristofer Clemente is one Ultra Pirineu race away from winning the 2016 Skyrunner World Series Ultra division. In this interview, Cristofer talks about how his running has improved since 2015, what his 2016 of Skyrunning has been like, and how he feels about the long and mountainous Ultra Pirineu course.
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Cristofer Clemente Pre-2016 Ultra Pirineu Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here in Bagà, Spain. It’s two days before the 2016 Ultra Pirineu. I’m with La Gomera’s Cristofer Clemente. Mucho gusto.
Cristofer Clemente: Nice to meet you.
iRunFar: Que tal? How are you?
Clemente: Really well, happy to be here in the Pyrenees, and looking forward for race day on Saturday.
iRunFar: I’m excited to be here, too. It’s my first time here to cover Ultra Pirineu. I came here last year to run the Cavalls del Vent course. I’m excited, too.
Clemente: It’s one of the most important races in Spain. It’s a classic. it used to be Cavalls del Vent, now called Ultra Pirineu with the course change. I was lucky to run it last year. It’s a beautiful spectacle with the landscapes, trails, and with the spectators over the mountains.
iRunFar: This is an important race for you personally. This is the last race in the Skyrunner Series Ultra division. You’re going to win the series!
Clemente: Yes, sure, it’s the last race in the series and it has this 20% bonus. Luckily, the other races went well so I’m now leading in the overall ranking. I’m really motivated in holding this first place, and looking forward to starting the race and stay in this position after Ultra Pirineu.
iRunFar: And win the division. Last year at the Skyrunner World Series Ultra division, you finished second on a very strong season. This year, you’ve had two wins and a top-10 placing at the very competitive Transvulcania. How does it feel to have elevated yourself between last year and this year as a runner?
Clemente: I feel this season was better, I’ve improved in some aspects. I’ve trained really well for Transvulcania, but after some issues I was able to get a 10th position, which is really good. Madeira and The Rut were perfect, so I’m really happy about that. Now, I have Ultra Pirineu to see if I’m good and I can achieve a good position here, too.
iRunFar: You were the first Canarian and top 10 at Transvulcania, so even for not a perfect day, it’s a good result.
Clemente: All the Canarians are very happy for my position, because it’s important to Canarians. I hope that on Saturday I will make a good race and to see my level is better and I improve.
iRunFar: I want to ask you a little bit about the feeling of Ultra Pirineu. Bagà is a medieval village of 1,000 years old. You come from a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean. What’s it like to leave your home and travel the world and come to a place as exotic as Bagà and race in the Pyrenees?
Clemente: The feeling is really strange. I’m used to training in home with high humidity levels, heat, and here it’s cold, pretty high elevation, that you can feel as you’re constantly over 2,000 meters above sea level, so it’s different. But that’s motivating about this racing world, changing scenarios, running home in Canaries, then going to the United States, and now here. Totally different terrain and weather. In the end, it’s a big personal reward to do this, as being happy on the trails is what I love the most.
iRunFar: One last question for you. Ultra Pirineu, the course has a lot of ups and a lot of downs, but it’s known for being less technical than Buff Epic Trail or Transvulcania. What strengths do you bring to this weekend’s course?
Clemente: It’s a race I don’t handle really well, as I prefer technical trails, or rocky terrains, as the ones I find home in La Gomera. There’s a lot of elevation change, but the main part is the distance, you have to know how to save energy. Last year, I was able to know the race. It’s a course I run with a lot of respect, calm, trying to be conservative to be able to have a strong last section, that’s were competition may be defined.
iRunFar: He said he’ll go out conservatively to be strong?
Translator: Yes. You can keep your heart to the 90k knowing everything…
iRunFar: For someone like you who normally races for half the time [as Ultra Pirineu], figuring out the right effort and what to save for 80k, 90k, 100k, that’s probably your biggest challenge in a race this long? Cristofer is used to racing for five hours or six hours. To go to 13 hours, it’s a big challenge to figure pacing your effort.
Clemente: Yes, the adventure is bigger, so you spend more hours outside. I’m used to 60, 70 kilometers races, even 50, 6, 7 or 8 hours. Here we’ll be running over 12 or 13 hours, so I’ll try to take it easy, trying to be happy in the mountains, keeping my head up and enjoying the views, always calm and easy. Will also try to be calm on aid stations, different to the races I’m used to, where it’s quicker. Maybe I’ll take 10 or 15 minutes, in such a big race it helps you to be calm and it gives you a break to refuel and keep going.
iRunFar: Best of luck to you in being patient this weekend. Best of luck in the final race of the Skyrunner World Series Ultra division.
Clemente: Thank you very much. Looking forward for race day to enjoy, which is the important thing. And maybe getting the Skyrunning World Series title, why not? I’ve really fought for it, I’m very excited about it.
iRunFar: See you out there.