France’s Jocelyne Pauly surprised even herself with her third-place finish at UTMB 2018. In our first interview with Jocelyne, hear about her life as an educator and mom outside of running, how she became a runner as an adult, how she reacted during the race when she found herself in the women’s top 10, and how her competitive drive helped her to fight for her podium position.
Check out our 2018 UTMB results article for the full story of the race, as well as links for all of our post-race interviews.
Jocelyne Pauly Post-UTMB 2018 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m with Jocelyne Pauly. She’s the third-place finisher of the 2018 UTMB. Good morning and congratulations, Jocelyne.
Jocelyne Pauly: Good morning. Thank you.
iRunFar: You’re on the podium of UTMB. How do you feel?
Pauly: [Through a translator] I’m very surprised. I don’t think I realize what’s happened yet; it hasn’t hit me.
iRunFar: When you crossed the finish line last night, you were crying. It made me cry, it made a lot of people cry. What was going on inside of you at that moment?
Pauly: I was happy, I was proud, I was just overwhelmed with emotion from seeing so many people on the finish line and all throughout the course. It was a beautiful course. I have so many images still in my head from the race itself. The emotions are literally overflowing.
iRunFar: Jocelyne, this is iRunFar’s first time interviewing you, so I want to know about you. Who are you? What do you do for life outside of running?
Pauly: I’m from Pau in the Pyrenees, in the south of France. I’m a teacher. I started running about ten years ago – road running – I started after having kids; I thought, “Oh, I need to exercise, I need to do something.” I started with small races: 10k, half-marathons, marathons, but always still on the road. Then, I met a friend who introduced me to the trail running, so then I did the same thing – I started with shorter races and, then, longer ones and longer ones. Now, I’m up to the ultra distances.
iRunFar: So you have kids. How many kids do you have?
Pauly: I have two boys, two teenagers: one is twelve and the other is sixteen.
iRunFar: Have you talked with them about their mom being on the podium of UTMB?
Pauly: Before or after?
iRunFar: Now. After the race.
Pauly: Yes, I spoke with them. They were crying, as well, and they were sending messages – very touching, very emotional. They were very proud of their mom.
iRunFar: Let’s talk about this race. Very quickly on Friday night, it became proper mountain conditions, like the Alps and the Pyrenees. What was it like for you in the night with the rain and the really cold temperatures?
Pauly: I was surprised the conditions were as difficult and complicated as they were. I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be that bad. That being said, I’m definitely used to being in those conditions, living in the mountains. I have run races where it has been freezing cold and difficult, so I know how to manage it.
iRunFar: I think that you were in the women’s top ten right away. You were in contact with the women’s leaders. Was that a plan or a surprise? How did you react?
Pauly: It definitely wasn’t part of my strategy by any means to be in the top ten. I was running my race. I’m really good on the flats and the slight inclines and the downhills. Climbing is definitely not my strong point but, for whatever reason, I was with the top ten women. I decided, “Hey, I’m going to hang onto this for as long as I can.” Then, I was gaining ground. I was in the top five. I’m stubborn, so I was saying, “I’m going to hang onto the top five for as long as I can.” So I was hanging on and, then, I was in fourth and hanging on still and, then, in third place. I went for it, because it’s part of my personality – I’m determined and when I want to do something, I get the job done.
iRunFar: In the last couple of segments of the race, you were running much more of the terrain than the women around you. You were still doing the running motion and looked strong. To what do you attribute being able to be so strong at the end compared to the women around you?
Pauly: Compared to previous races, I was really able to manage my hydration and my nutrition better than I ever have in the past. Usually, that’s a point I have a problem with. On this race I was able to manage it extremely well. I was also able to change my shoes. It was able to give me a morale boost. Lastly, I was able to keep running, because I was determined.
iRunFar: I think this is a really mean question to ask the day after running 100 miles, but I kind of have to ask: Now that you’ve finished on the podium of the world’s most competitive 100-miler, do you dare to dream of what else you can do or what might be next?
Pauly: I wasn’t expecting at all to place so well. Tomorrow, I’m going to go back home to my students and just walk and slowly start jogging a little bit again and slowly start running. I have Diagonales des Fous – the Grand Raid de la Réunion– coming up [in October] so who knows now that I’m in great form, what I can do. I don’t know.
iRunFar: Well, congratulations on your third-place finish. Thanks so much for letting us introduce you to English-speaking ultrarunners.
Pauly: Merci. Thank you.