Hannes Namberger will be racing for Germany in this year’s Trail World Championships 80k. In the following interview, Hannes talks about how hard the course will be and which top contender it favors, what went wrong in racing Penyagolosa this year, and what he learned from that experience.
Hannes Namberger Pre-2023 Trail World Championships 80k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Hannes Namberger at the 2023 Trail World Championships. How are you, Hannes?
Hannes Namberger: I’m fine. Thank you.
iRunFar: You’re pretty much a local here, yeah? On a global scale, at least.
Namberger: Yeah, I would say the language which I speak that’s perfect for Innsbruck, but I’m German.
Namberger: And my hometown is only two hours away from here.
iRunFar: So have you spent any time running around here?
Namberger: I know 80% of the course. Only the first loop I didn’t run them, but all the important parts, I know everything. Yeah.
iRunFar: And did you run in this area before training for this race particularly or?
Namberger: Only for this race.
Namberger: I know some parts from skiing because I was a skier before and I know the mountains but not the trails.
iRunFar: So how are the trails? What are people going to see out there?
Namberger: Well. [laughs]
iRunFar: [laughs] Okay!
Namberger: So I have to say I’m really scared about these trails.
iRunFar: You are?
Namberger: Yes. I love it’s very technical, but these trails will be, yeah, they will kill me. Because normally they are easy, but if you run there in race pace, then you go up and then directly down. And that’s the whole time. And then only at the last 20 kilometers you have a little bit, 5k, 10k maybe to roll a bit. But the first thing, it will kill me. But I’m super excited. And yeah, you have to run smart.
iRunFar: I mean, even the last in the last, I don’t know 10 or 12 kilometers, I don’t really exact distance, but in the end, there’s an 1,100-meter climb and descent.
Namberger: Yes, but it’s the whole race like this. But the first part is more technical and more totally only single trails. You have to be very concentrated, always look looking down. Nothing to, yeah, there’s no calm down.
iRunFar: To recover. There’s no easy fluid downhill where you can just be like, “I’m going to run 4:00 kilometers and enjoy this.”
Namberger: No, no 4:00 ks, no. [laughs]
iRunFar: We’ve heard I’ve heard a couple of predictions on like what it might take to win on the men’s side. Do you have any, just a ballpark idea?
Namberger: You have to run smart. If you know the course it could help you.
iRunFar: Is it a 10-hour course for the winner?
Namberger: I think yeah, 10 hours exactly. Maybe the winner will be under 10 hours.
iRunFar: But not by very much.
Namberger: No, no, I don’t think so. Normally for 87k you need 8.5 hours, but this, I think the winner time will be 9:50 roundabout.
iRunFar: And is it, what’s more difficult? Is it the technicality or is it the 6,500 meters of climbing?
Namberger: The 6,500 on this short 87k, that’s maybe the most problem. But yeah, it’s for everybody. Same you have to do a lot of pole work. So if you can handle it with poles, that’s very important. And yeah.
iRunFar: So do you, that smile suggests that you might like running with poles.
Namberger: Yeah, sure. Every runner who goes on the start without poles, yeah it’s his own decision.
iRunFar: And I know like you were an alpine skier. You were a downhill skier. Do you have any sort of Nordic skiing background? Or did you pick up poles from trail running?
Namberger: No. Yeah I picked up poles from trail running. In skiing, always with poles so I know to handle it. And since I started with trail running, I used always poles.
iRunFar: So who do you think, obviously you’re one of the favorites. Who else do you think will be up at that front of the race challenging?
Namberger: My big favorite is Andreas Reiterer.
Namberger: Because I was two weeks ago with him on the course. And we say okay, yeah. From Neustift, not the first loop, but from Neustift, to a little bit before Kranebitten, so the most part of the race. And then we said okay, easier is you run in the endurance Zone 2, but for him always full gas. And he smashed me the whole day. It was like a punch in the face from the beginning. Always on the limit for me, not for him.
Namberger: So really, if he’s not on the podium, then I don’t know what happened.
iRunFar: And he as well as you, like he’s local.
iRunFar: He’s even 90 minutes away or an hour away. He’s very close.
iRunFar: Trains on similar terrain.
Namberger: He was a lot of time on the course itself with the Italian team.
iRunFar: So keep an eye out for him. Anybody else?
Namberger: No. I travel pushing from the beginning. I will stay calm. Do my own thing. That’s all.
iRunFar: Don’t try to hang with Andreas.
Namberger: No. No chance. You can’t go with him. [laughs and shakes head] It’s not my idea.
iRunFar: Yeah. You had a lot of big wins last year. Really good 2022 season. You ran Penyagalosa this spring. And you were eighth place I believe at CSP?
Namberger: Yeah this year.
iRunFar: Did something go wrong there or were you just using that as a training run or?
Namberger: I know I was prepared really well for this race, but it was too runnable for me and the Spanish guys, they destroyed me totally. And then I exploded. I recovered and it made it to the finish line, so that was a big success for me, but I like it to do more, with more elevations. So more like this.
iRunFar: Was that a good lesson for you? I know you’re very cerebral. You’re very philosophic about your running and you’ve had really great performances, and you’ve had ones that you’ve had to stop at, like UTMB or what have you.
iRunFar: Was it good to have that “today sucks” and then…
Namberger: Exactly, there was a perfect lesson for me that I have to do my own race. And the Spanish guys, they were playing with me, so they destroyed me. And I had no job on this day. So they played with me and for the next race okay, I know. “Do your own thing. Look on your heart rate. Look to your body and then you will, you can go fast at the end.”
iRunFar: Yeah, because you could, you may run another flat or more runnable ultras in the future.
iRunFar: And it’s good to know that maybe you start out in eighth through 50 kilometers and then when other people start to get tired, play a little PacMan or.
Namberger: Yes. Hopefully, yeah, normally I do this always. And then I did some 20k races only for preparation and I think everything should be okay.
iRunFar: Yeah. And you’re feeling strong going into the event?
Namberger: I never feel strong. I feel always terrible before.
Namberger: Nervous, ill, and injured. [laughs] That’s my feeling.
iRunFar: Well, which is normal. It’s good to know that others…
Namberger: Exactly, that’s normal for me. So if all the other runners have this feeling, it’s normal. It’s racing. That’s the days before the race.
iRunFar: Will you have some friends and family here since it’s so close to home?
Namberger: Yeah, sure. Yeah. That would be cool. So much friends, families and other runners they will join this event to cheer for you.
iRunFar: Yeah, I think I brought it up in one of the other interviews but just, it’s kind of cool that yeah, we’re in Austria, and this is the home country. But you have people from Germany that are really close. You have people from Italy, even some people from France or Switzerland. They’re not that far away. People run the course, people know Innsbruck-Stubai.
Namberger: Exactly. It’s in the middle of all these countries.
iRunFar: The Slovakian team could come here.
Namberger: Yeah. It’s directly in the middle of ours.
iRunFar: So you have a lot of people here that are going to be familiar with of course, not just you.
Namberger: [laughs] Exactly.
iRunFar: Well, best of luck out there and enjoy.
Namberger: Thank you very much. Thank you.