Hannes Namberger returns to UTMB after taking sixth at last year’s race, his 100-mile debut. In the following interview, Hannes talks about how he felt strong early in the season, how his wedding celebration, COVID, and a leg injury slowed his season, and why he’s excited that he has room for improvement at UTMB.
For more on who’s running this year’s UTMB, check out our men’s and women’s previews before following our UTMB live coverage starting on Friday.
Hannes Namberger Pre-2022 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Hannes Namberger before the 2022 UTMB. How are you?
Hannes Namberger: I’m fine. Thanks. Yeah. Second time on the big loop, so excited.
iRunFar: You’re excited, yeah? You had a really good start to your season. You won Penyagolosa [106k]. You won Lavaredo Ultra Trail. How did you feel through that first half of the year?
Namberger: Normally, I would say perfect, but I had, after Lavaredo I had a problem with my foot and I couldn’t train as planned, but I spent the most time on the bicycle. And four weeks ago, I could start slowly again with running. And I think the shape is enough for the loop.
iRunFar: For the loop, yeah. But before the injury, did you feel pretty strong?
Namberger: Yes. I feel strong. Lavaredo was perfect for me, but also the preparation for Lavaredo wasn’t perfect with COVID-19. [laughs] Then with a big party after my wedding and things like this, but sometimes it’s good that the preparation is not always how you plan it because …
iRunFar: Maybe sometimes perfect preparation is too much preparation.
Namberger: For me, it could be. Yeah.
iRunFar: So maybe having a little break, you say you’re strong with the cycling.
Namberger: Yeah. I’m a good cycler, don’t worry. [laughs]
iRunFar: [laughs] Maybe we can do one lap of running and one lap of cycling.
Namberger: Yeah, we could. Yeah.
iRunFar: So, you were sixth here at UTMB last year. What did you learn from that experience? It was your first 100-mile race.
Namberger: Yeah, I learned a lot because I had no idea how to run after 14 hours. And how is the nutrition, how is the strategy? How is it if it’s really cold? And last year it was cold. And all these things helped me for Friday and for Saturday.
iRunFar: So you took those lessons and yeah …
iRunFar: So with the nutrition. What did you get right and what did you get wrong maybe last year?
Namberger: Yeah. Last year, I was low on carbs. And so now I took the volume of the carbs a little more higher, and you have to bring the carbs inside your body. That’s the only way and if you do it, then you can make it to the finish line. With the clothes, keep you always warm and that’s all things what’s really necessary for.
iRunFar: So the end of last year’s UTMB maybe you didn’t feel as strong as you could?
Namberger: No. Because I was so nervous before the race. I was really nervous, I was a little bit scared. But, and the preparation was really bad. I was ill before the race and yeah, but I made it to the finish line and that was perfect.
iRunFar: And a good finish, I mean.
Namberger: Yeah, I was sixth place. So.
iRunFar: As your 100-mile debut. Like you have to have been happy. Not perfect, but it’s a good start.
Namberger: You know if you make it to the finish line and it was not perfect, OK. There’s, there’s a gap to, to the better time.
iRunFar: And I can see a spark from you because I know you’re a conservative. You’re not the person for the first 100 mile to try to be 105%. It’s better to be 93 or 94% with some room for improvement. Is that true?
Namberger: Yeah, that’s true. Yeah. You know me. [laughs]
iRunFar: [laughs] Well so on the flip side of that, so can you or anyone be conservative through UTMB and end up on the men’s podium?
Namberger: You don’t, it’s not allowed to make mistakes. And if you make the most of the things right, then you have a good chance to make it to the finish line. But to say this guy is for sure on the podium, no.
iRunFar: So, you think maybe a key to being on the podium is not making mistakes?
Namberger: He doesn’t make mistakes. He knows here, every track. He knows what he has to do if it’s cold. And Friday, it could be that we have rain. He knows everything about cold temperatures. And I like it to run in the rain.
iRunFar: You like to solve problems during your runs, don’t you?
Namberger: Yeah. [laughs]
iRunFar: It really does feel like a mental game, your running.
iRunFar: Not as, not necessarily a strategy but you are trying to, not beat yourself but to get your best race.
Namberger: Yeah, it’s more a race against me, and to show my best performance and that my mental game is perfect, prepared for a 170k.
iRunFar: And what would be your dream for this weekend?
Namberger: Faster than last year.
iRunFar: You think you can do that?
iRunFar: Awesome. Well, good luck and enjoy it out there.
Namberger: Thank you.