François D’Haene absolutely dominated the 2014 Ultra-Trail Mount Fuju. In the following interview, François talks about how the race’s early stage went, where he decided to push the pace, and what he thinks of his third big win on an international stage.
[Editor’s Note: Have a look at our results article for the race’s full story.]
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
François D’Haene, 2014 Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with François D’Haene after his win at the 2014 Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji. Great run out there.
François D’Haene: Thank you.
iRunFar: You made it look easy all day. Did it feel easy all day?
D’Haene: Not all the day, no. I feel very good during the first part. Then I tried to make my own good speed. That’s why maybe it feel easy because it was really my speed and I could take it easy. I just, yes, be in the mountains and be in nature and just say, Okay, one kilometer more, one kilometer more, and take a lot of pleasure with the night and sensations.
iRunFar: You were in the lead all day, from literally the start to the finish.
D’Haene: Yeah, I was really in good feeling and I kind of had my speed. Sometimes I lose the trail a little bit. I was maybe five minutes behind a little group. I could catch them really fast, and stay with them, and go more fast. It’s really crazy when your legs can adapt like that and you can do it. Yes, it was a good day.
iRunFar: Did it feel like magic?
D’Haene: Yes, it just feels like magic. When you want to start, you can start…
iRunFar: When you were in the lead with Iker Karrera, you guys got lost for maybe 10 minutes, so then you were five minutes behind the leaders. You caught them so easily. Iker could not, and he was in the lead with you.
D’Haene: Yes, we spent some good times with Iker. It was nice because we take good speed. We were maybe four or five minutes in front of those runners. Okay, it’s really good. Then we get through and yes, for Iker, I think it was more difficult because his injury and his pain is coming and mentally it’s really hard when you get lost because you say, “Okay, we are five minutes in front of the others and now we’re five minutes later.” It’s really hard.
iRunFar: Yeah, and coming into the hardest section of the course, Aid 8 to 9, you knew you had a really large lead. On a hard section like that, do you sort of take it more easy on the hardest part?
D’Haene: I know that range is really technical. I think I can put some time into the other runners. That’s why I take Aid 8 to 9 not easy but not too much hard, and I just want to be sure that they can finish the race at the same speed. That’s why after Aid 9 I say, Okay, I do a good job, I think, to push a little bit between Aid 9 and 10 and then I can finish easy and don’t get injury, don’t push too much, don’t be stressed, just take pleasure.
iRunFar: I saw you at 150k and you looked so peaceful looking at the scenery and enjoying it. It’s an inspiration. Before the race you were saying how after your win at UTMB, you really savor it. You never know if you’ll repeat it—the same with winning Diagonale des Fous. Now you have won UTMF against a great field. Is it becoming more than just winning one incredible race? Do you feel there’s something more to your experience now?
D’Haene: Yes, for me it’s a good other experience. Yeah, I think each race is different. When you’re confident with your sensation, when your speed and your heartbeat will be in the race, all the scenarios that can come are okay even if you get lost, maybe you can see if you’re behind and you can really adjust an attitude every time, and it’s really easy. I think UTMB or Diagonale des Fous or this race, this scenario was there and, for me, it’s really important to take pleasure during the race, and when I take pleasure I can feel very well and go very fast.
iRunFar: So you’ll take the same attitude into the 80k Mont Blanc in nine weeks?
D’Haene: Yes, I hope, but each race is different and 80k is very fast. Now in my way, I have UTMB and on this way I have 80k and Ice Trail [Tarentaise]. It’s a way long way and I don’t want to get injured and to be careful.
iRunFar: So the focus is still Mont Blanc… or UTMB.
D’Haene: Yes, I still like to really focus especially on the race and there’s less pressure and it will be good. Now after my win at UTMF I can take the season easy and be confident and, for me, I think my recovery will be really better and get less stressed because I know actually how I feel and I think it will be good.
D’Haene: Thank you, and congratulations to all the runners who finish UTMF because it was a really a particular race and a difficult race, I think.
iRunFar: One quick bonus question, François. What wine are you drinking that you’re running so fast these days?
D’Haene: You absolutely need to taste my wine. I think what is important is to be happy to take the start and happy to drink a glass of wine with the other runners will be good.
iRunFar: Let’s go.
D’Haene: Let’s go to wine.