Luis Alberto Hernando finished second at last year’s IAU Trail World Championships in Annecy, France and he’s back for this year’s championships this weekend in Portugal. In the following interview, Luis Alberto talks about what went wrong at UTMB, how his training has gone since then, what winning the world championships would mean to him, and how the Spanish team will approach the championships.
For more on who else is racing, check out our in-depth men’s and women’s previews. You can also follow along with our extensive live race coverage on Saturday.
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Luis Alberto Hernando Pre-2016 IAU Trail World Championships Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Luis Alberto Hernando before the 2016 IAU Trail World Championships. Hello, Luis Alberto.
Luis Alberto Hernando: ¿Qué tal?
iRunFar: Mauri Pagliacci, our translator. So, Luis Alberto, you had a very good start to your season. You won Transvulcania. You won Buff Epic Trail. Then UTMB—what went wrong at UTMB?
Hernando: I arrived at UTMB in my best form of these three years I’ve toed the line. I’ve had really good trainings, really good long trainings with no pains. In training for these long races for such a long time with no pain is not normal, but I was feeling super confident and really well looking forward to the race. Then I started with the respect you have to have for a 20-ish hours long race. On the first downhill I started stepping back and slowing down and not running naturally and not going downhill like I like to go, super loose. Blisters came. I had big blisters on the back of my ankles. I was out of the race. At 21k, I tried to keep on going, but I was running super bad. My form was super bad, so I started having knee pains, and my back was really hurting. So I had to get out of the race then. It sucked because I had a really good start to the season and was super confident about it.
iRunFar: Have you recovered well since the race?
Hernando: Yes, yes, the other day I came back home and started training, so everything was well. My legs were fine. Everything worked fine. I was surprised because I used the same shoes I always use, the same socks, everything the same way I always run. I don’t know. Thinking about it, it was this thing of braking on the downhills that gave me the blisters. Maybe on a 20-ish k race, a super small race, I can go on and hold on with the pain and continue, but it was kind of crazy to keep on going on a super-long race like the UTMB. I’m okay. I’ve been okay since then and training.
iRunFar: The training has gone well?
Hernando: Yes. It’s been a long season since May. I haven’t had troubles. My training and everything has gone well. I’ve been able to train super fine and with no pains. I would have loved to have finished UTMB and especially winning UTMB as well, but it didn’t happen. I can’t complain. It has been hard for me to train with shorter days and having snow on the mountains, but it’s okay. I’ve been able to train with just a bit of effort to go out.
iRunFar: You’ve been involved in endurance sports for a long time, and in your own words, you’re getting old. What would it mean to win a world championship?
Hernando: I want to think it’s just another race. It’s an 85k race with 5,000 meters vertical. It’s kind of what we are used to do. We all have the same rivals like in Transvulcania or in any race. Just days before the race, that’s what I want to think to remove some pressure. Maybe in five, six, or 10 years if I take the win, I will have more value of being a world champion, but now for me it’s just one more race. I want to think it’s just one more race.
iRunFar: The Spanish team is very strong. Last year at the world championships, the team was very aggressive and maybe had a poor result as a result. Do you think the team may be more conservative this year?
Hernando: Last year we weren’t really able to show ourselves from the beginning as the French team was the strongest one. Maybe half of the race we had five guys from the French team in front. I think this is an individual race, and we are all thinking as individuals. It’s not only us as a team but everybody. We want to think we have to finish to try to finish in our best position to make the best time for the country but try not to drop and to get there to the finish. I think it’s going to be a really individual race and as individuals giving our best.
iRunFar: Good luck with your race.
Hernando: Thank you.