In this interview, he talks about how his build-up differed this year, with more focused training; how the race unfolded from his point of view; and if he’ll be tempted to return.
For more on how the race played out, read our in-depth UTMB results article.
Germain Grangier Post-2023 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Sarah Brady of iRunFar. I’m here the day after the 2023 UTMB with third-place man, Germain Grangier. Congratulations. How are you?
Germain Grangier: Thanks. Yeah, I’m doing good today. Yeah.
iRunFar: Okay. Did you get any sleep and how are your legs and everything feeling?
Grangier: Yeah, I got a pretty good amount of sleep and the legs for sure are not perfect, but not too bad.
iRunFar: Okay, not going anywhere too quickly today, anyway. Yeah, so this is your third UTMB, and your best performance so far. You’ve previously been ninth, and then moved up to fifth. So you said in your pre-race interview that you’ve kind of committed to it a little bit more this year in terms of spending the last few weeks in Chamonix, and more specific preparation. Do you think that’s what made the difference and led to a better performance this year?
Grangier: Yeah, I think it’s more like a global approach, I would say. Better training for the whole year. I was more consistent and did way more running than I used to before. I used to cross train a lot with biking, and I think I needed more kilometers also in my legs to be more consistent during the whole UTMB, race until the end. So, for sure. The fact that I stayed in the valley longer this time also. It’s like as always, a multifactorial. I don’t how to say it.
iRunFar: Okay. And how did you find the conditions then? I thought they seemed quite perfect but I know some people said it was a bit too humid during the night and that was an issue.
Grangier: Yeah. It was very humid. The start of UTMB is always humid, more or less. But yeah, the terrain was pretty wet. Some snow field also over Col du Bonhomme. The downhill to Les Chapieux was really wet and slippery. And one thing was that it was really foggy. Most of the downhill we had to use the lower settings of the headlamps because it was too foggy to really see, and there was too much reflection with the fog. But otherwise the temperature was just perfect.
iRunFar: That sounds like a bit more of an adventure with the fog. So then, the first half of the race you were never too far back from the front. You were kind of swapping positions around the top six. So how did that first half of the race feel and were you very comfortable?
Grangier: Yeah, tried to stay in a comfortable pace and state of mind until Courmayeur, and see how it will evolve from then. And yeah, I was pretty close from the leaders whole night, and I stayed most of the night with Petter Engdahl, who is a friend. And I also sometimes I do skimo racing and he’s around. So I knew him from the winter. And yeah, we had such a nice night together until Courmayeur.
iRunFar: And then you’d said previously as well that Courmayeur to La Fouly was your favorite part of the course. So how did that go? Is that when you started to move a little bit forward into podium position?
Grangier: Yeah, that’s true then. I think from Courmayeur to Champex I was alone, actually. And that’s the part of the race I like also the most. So I think I took advantage of liking this part, and being alone, and being more in tune with my feelings, and tried to find a good pace. And yeah, made it to Champex.
iRunFar: Great. And then when I seen you just coming into Champex, you were just in front of Jim [Walmsley] by like half a second, and it was a close battle with loads of people around you. That must have felt quite intense. How was that part?
Grangier: Yeah, I knew that that Jim was not too far, because people were telling me he was just ahead. So yeah, I caught up to, I was at the end of the, more or less the climb up Champex with Jim. And honestly it was only going to be me passing Jim, and I keep going. And when I saw him running by me on the lake of Champex, I was like, Okay. He is definitely going at another speed now. And yeah, I tried to buffer it first, and then I understood he was really on a mission.
iRunFar: Okay. Did you feel like you were a little bit stronger maybe on that uphill bit before Champex-Lac, and then it got to the flat and he’s very fast then?
Grangier: Yeah, exactly. It’s the first thing I told myself when the speed was really different. Is that okay, Jim, maybe he has like, good running shoes, or new road running shoes. And then I was thinking okay, this is definitely Jim’s best path. So, I was trying to hold it like that. And I was thinking I would maybe catch up in the steeper part of the Bovine climb. But no, it didn’t happen.
iRunFar: And it’s still, I suppose it’s the final almost quarter the race, but it’s still 50 kilometers to go, so you can’t push too hard to do someone else’s pace either. Did you find that you had to hold back and not be too sucked along by him?
Grangier: Yeah, it’s exactly that. I took like five minutes to think about that. And yeah, if I was trying to push to stay with him, I probably would have blown up somewhere around Trient or Vallorcine. And then probably like, maybe losing my podium spot. That’s why after when people were saying to me, “He’s about eight to 10 minutes,” I took the splits from behind, because I wanted to know if I can do my real push and not totally blow up. But it ended up that the split with gap was always the same, and was always like, was always the same, so.
iRunFar: Zach [Miller] said he noticed that, too, that the split back to you was constant, and he was like, “Oh, no.” Yeah, and then I was just wondering, because you’ve done this race before, about the course changes. It was slightly different towards the end this year. Did you find that much different, or better, or worse?
Grangier: Yeah, I already knew the new race route from Col des Montets to Chamonix. And I’m not a big fan of that, because it’s not really going up. It’s a lot of up and down. It’s very technical. So yeah, I think I prefer to do…
iRunFar: You prefer the original?
Grangier: Yeah, I prefer the original. To be climbing then the big downhill.
iRunFar: Yeah, that last downhill is very good, from La Flégère. Okay, great. And then, so this was a really good performance to get on the podium. But do you think this is you peaking at UTMB? Or would you be ambitious to come back and try and do better again?
Grangier: Yeah, I don’t know. The only thing with UTMB is that every time I finish the race is a faster time for me, and a better position. So, it always keeps me in the mood of maybe getting back to UTMB. But I don’t know yet. But yeah, definitely try to do something better, yeah.
iRunFar: Okay. It’s a little too soon to ask that really, anyway. And then in terms of the rest of the year, you’ve done quite a lot already. So, are you going to just chill out now for the autumn, or have you anything else?
Grangier: Yeah, I think I will just wait for the snow to land at home, and get on the skis when the condition would be great. And I think, yeah, I probably will be done like, running and racing running.
iRunFar: Okay. Nice to have that change for the winter season anyway. Well, congratulations again. Thanks so much for taking the time out to talk to us, and enjoy your recovery.
Grangier: Thanks a lot.