Katharina Hartmuth Pre-2023 UTMB Interview

A video interview (with transcript) with Katharina Hartmuth before the 2023 UTMB.

By on August 30, 2023 | Comments

Germany’s Katharina Harmuth, who lives in Switzerland, is making her UTMB debut at the 2023 event, after a third-place finish at last year’s CCC, and a recent second-place finish at this year’s Trail World Championships 80k.

In this interview, she talks about her busy summer, finalizing her PhD degree alongside preparing for the world championships, and winning the Eiger Ultra-Trail 101k, as well as her excitement to be racing UTMB for the first time.

For more on who’s racing, check out our in-depth men’s and women’s previews. Follow along with our UTMB live race coverage from Friday.

Katharina Hartmuth Pre-2023 UTMB Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Sarah Brady of iRunFar. I’m here just a few days before the 2023 UTMB with Katharina Hartmuth. How are you doing?

Katharina Hartmuth: I’m good. Thanks.

iRunFar: Great to see you again. The last time we interviewed you was just after the Trail World Championship [80k] where you place second. And I believe then you had a bit of an ultra of a different kind of take on. You were defending your PhD after that. So how did that go?

Hartmuth: That went well. Yeah, that was only 10 days after, but really well, and now everything’s done and I’m glad that it’s over.

iRunFar: That’s a lot of stress in one go. [laughs] And yeah, you’ve been pretty busy since then. After that, you won the Eiger Ultra Trail 100k. So that’s yeah, brilliant. Can you tell us how that day unfolded?

Hartmuth: Yeah, that’s right. So, that was also a rather tough day for me because I had a rough start. The first five hours into the race I couldn’t eat, and I just felt sick. But luckily then it got better and then I really could enjoy it. And I really love that race because I train there a lot. I really know the trails and so yeah, I also could enjoy it. But the first part was rather rough.

iRunFar: Yeah, that sounds like ultrarunning. So, I know you’ve been here before. You raced TDS last year and you placed third. But have you actually gotten back to recce this course at all?

Hartmuth: Of UTMB? Or?

iRunFar: Yeah, UTMB.

Hartmuth: So, well, I actually considered doing TDS as well this year. But then I got an opportunity finally to do UTMB, and I was like, Okay, let’s give it a shot. And actually now I’m quite glad because of the weather. And TDS was, I think, even tougher this year. But yeah, now I just thought well, why not the UTMB? And just give it a try. I mean, it’s my first one. So hopefully not too much pressure. [laughs]

iRunFar: Yeah, of course. And how do you think the challenge is going to stack up? So, comparing the two races? Do you expect it to be much harder or similar? I know TDS is possibly more technical. This is longer.

Hartmuth: Yes. So, I think TDS is definitely more technical. I think the technical, that’s more what I like. So, I’m a bit well, not afraid, but I have respect, with respect to the runnable parts of UTMB. So let’s see how I can manage this. And I’m actually looking forward to the second half, because I know that it’s a bit more climbing and at least some technical parts. But I think it’s quite, quite different from the TDS course, definitely. Also in terms of just how the competition is going on. I mean, you can be as famous for like, this super-fast start and like, really runnable first part.

iRunFar: And do you have a strategy for how you will manage that really runnable first part? Like you’re going to need to hold yourself back or?

Hartmuth: Yeah, I definitely need to hold myself back. Because also usually the first few hours, it’s not my strength. I need a few hours to warm up, so I definitely won’t go up with the front pack.

iRunFar: Okay.

Hartmuth: I try to actually take the first half of the race rather relaxed, if you can take that. [laughs] And hold myself back, and then let’s see what what’s still left for the second part.

iRunFar: Okay, great. Now I know it’s like a different race in a lot of ways, but was there anything specific from TDS that you learned that you think you can apply to this or areas you think you can improve?

Hartmuth: Oh, definitely. I had quite a rough race also, last year at TDS because I had 10 hours of pain in my hip flexor. So that was really, really painful. [laughs] But I experienced, because then I actually wanted to drop, but luckily I didn’t. And because then I experienced that even after more than 10 hours, the pain somehow went away, and I could finish the race without pain. And I didn’t have pain afterwards. So, I think that was quite a lesson.

iRunFar: Okay, amazing. Yeah. So even in little points, just power through and it’ll get better. Great. And then yeah, you’ve had such a busy summer just on all fronts. So like, after Trail World Champs, and after Eiger, did you take much time out or was it straight back into training?

Hartmuth: No, I did like a two-week rest, or active rest after Eiger. And then I was hit a bit by bad luck, because then I got sick twice.

iRunFar: Oh, no.

Hartmuth: So, well the preparation now did not go as I wanted it to go. But I’m just like, I’m happy that I’m now healthy, because that’s the most important. And I mean, I could manage to get a few hours on trails a few days out there. But yeah, I didn’t do another race after Eiger. Yeah. I took that recovery quite seriously, because those few weeks, that was quite intense.

iRunFar: Okay. Yeah, I guess you’d already done so much anyway, that just a few more weeks of recovery was probably no harm. And then is there any part of the course that you’re kind of most excited to get to?

Hartmuth: At UTMB now?

iRunFar: Yeah.

Hartmuth: Yeah. I think the second part.

iRunFar: Yeah.

Hartmuth: Also because it’s then in the light. I like running in the night, but obviously, I like it more if I see something, and it’s beautiful views here. So, I’m really much looking forward to the day. And second half. Also, because I already know the second half of the course and I really like it. So, I’m looking forward also to these steep hills that are still coming up there. [laughs]

iRunFar: Yeah. It’s an amazing route, that second half. And then I assume you’ve seen the start list. There’s some amazing women running. So, what would be your predictions? Who do you think is going to do well or the near the front?

Hartmuth: I mean, with Courtney [Dauwalter] being there, obviously that is the topic, also from my side. She’s done so well this year, and even though she might be tired now, after the big races she’s done, I still think that if nothing happens, and I cross my fingers that nothing happens to her, that she will take the win. Because she’s just from another planet. [laughs]

iRunFar: For sure.

Hartmuth: But it’s still great to see all these other girls there, I think. I mean, if you look at the top ranked runners, that’s incredible. And I don’t dare to take any predictions here apart from Courtney, because I think there are 20 people who could easily do top five. I’m just so thankful that I’m here and that I can race.

iRunFar: Yeah.

Hartmuth: Not against, but together with these incredible women.

iRunFar: For sure. Yeah.

Hartmuth: That’s very cool.

iRunFar: Okay, that’s great. Well, I hope you have a fantastic time out there. And I’m sure we’ll see you on the course. Thanks so much.

Hartmuth: Thanks.

Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is Managing Editor at iRunFar. She’s been working in an editorial capacity for ten years and has been a trail runner for almost as long. Aside from iRunFar, she’s worked as an editor for various educational publishers and written race previews for Apex Running, UK, and RAW Ultra, Ireland. Based in Belfast, Ireland, Sarah is an avid mountain runner and ultrarunner and competes at distances from under 10k to over 100k. When not running, she enjoys reading, socializing, and hanging out with her dog, Angie, and cat, Judy.