A year after taking second, Gediminas Grinius returns to UTMB. In the following interview, Gediminas talks about what drew him back to UTMB this year, why some of his results this year where not as strong as in the past, and why he thinks bad weather would be an advantage for him.
Find out who else is racing in our men’s and women’s UTMB previews, then follow along with our live coverage on Friday and Saturday.
Gediminas Grinius Pre-UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Gediminas Grinius before the 2017 UTMB. How are you, Gediminas?
Gediminas Grinius: I’m fine, thanks.
iRunFar: Busy days before the race?
Grinius: Yeah, I don’t like this kind of rush just before the race. I’m happy I give blood now and not like at Lavaredo on the day of the race. It’s busy.
iRunFar: You’re back at UTMB. Last year you were second. How has that memory gone for the past year?
Grinius: Actually, that memory plays well which is why I’m happy here. There’s some kind of déjà vu when I’m running around the places, and I remember the moments from the race. It’s a strange thing because last year I almost promised myself not to come back to UTMB, because it was my fifth time. But when I saw the list of athletes who were coming, I said I must be here.
iRunFar: What do you think about the field?
Grinius: The field is just amazing. I don’t know, maybe fifty names which are capable to be in the top five at least. It’s amazing competition. I’m very much looking forward to that.
iRunFar: It’s a big challenge. You could run as well as you did last year and be fifth or sixth.
Grinius: Yeah, that’s right. This is why I’m thinking about which strategy to use, because I’m not so fast to break 20 hours as spoken here by a lot of athletes and probably journalists more putting that on some athletes to do that. I’d be really happy just to break my own time.
iRunFar: Do you think that’s possible?
Grinius: I think it’s possible. I’m not like… nobody is ready 100%, but I think I’m fit like 90-95%, so it’s more than enough.
iRunFar: As strong as last year?
Grinius: I think so or even stronger physically. I have a few small injuries, which I don’t know how they’ll play in the long run.
iRunFar: You’ve had a strong season but maybe not as strong as last year. Is there any reason for that?
Grinius: Yeah, one reason is that I just didn’t prepare for some races, because I decided to take one year off a little bit and as I said, UTMB wasn’t on my plans. It hampers my recovery here, but the other races I did and haven’t done well, I’m not worried about that.
iRunFar: It wasn’t your focus.
Grinius: No, Madeira [Island Ultra Trail] where I was fourth, I was really happy because my aim was just to beat Zach MIller’s time. I just failed by seven minutes, but it’s kind of okay. So I was happy to finish fourth. It was my A race of the season. My next A race is UTMB. We’ll see. To come here in fourth like Madeira would be a privilege.
iRunFar: The weather could be a challenge this weekend. Is that exciting for you?
Grinius: Actually, I’m not afraid of weather for running 100 miles, but it scares me, because the race course may be changed or shortened. This is what I don’t like and is one of the fears I have prior to this race.
iRunFar: I don’t think it will be shortened. The back-up course is also 170k with 10,000 meters of climbing.
Grinius: I haven’t seen that, but I know it would be more useful for American runners, because I think it’s much faster, the B course.
iRunFar: So you’re hoping for that…?
Grinius: I’m hoping to race that original UTMB course, because sometimes when you’re racing and the course is changed, it’s not the same UTMB that it’s supposed to be. Then there is a lot of speculation that maybe you can do better on that course or that course.
iRunFar: You have the original course own. You know how to race that well.
Grinius: Yes, we had our Trail Running Factory camp, so I had the possibility of the group to run the whole course in eight days. It was really amazing because I’ve never run some parts of the course in the daylight. It was really exciting for me to see how it looks and what goes on.
iRunFar: Yeah, the south end of the course is quite beautiful between here and Courmayeur.
Grinius: Yeah, exactly. The Italy side is just amazing. You’re running so high with all the snowy peaks. It’s just pure joy.
iRunFar: You may see some snowy peaks on Saturday morning down there.
Grinius: Yeah, I heard that. Even the trail could be snowy. Up to 1,000 meters it will be already snowing. We’ll see. I’m not afraid of that because I’m from Lithuania, so I’m running all the time on the snow during the winter. For me, I think it’s an advantage.
iRunFar: Well, best of luck out there, Gediminas. Enjoy.
Grinius: Thank you.