Three-time defending trail world champion Luis Alberto Hernando returns to UTMB with a second-place finish and a couple disappointing results at the race. In the following interview, Luis Alberto talks about how he’s approached this race season differently, what separated his good and bad UTMBs, and what his approach will be this weekend.
Read our men’s and women’s previews to see who else is racing before following our UTMB live coverage starting on Friday.
Luis Alberto Hernando Pre-UTMB 2018 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Luis Alberto Hernando before the 2018 UTMB. How are you, Luis?
Luis Alberto Hernando: Happy and nervous, but happy to be here.
iRunFar: The last time we talked was back at the [Trail] World Championships where you won for the third time. You’ve run a few shorter races since then. How did they go?
Hernando: Good. I tried to stay close to home. I was running shorter races and tried to do a season of shorter races to be here healthier and more rested. This summer, I confirmed that no matter what, if I run long races or shorter races, I get really tired. And if I travel or stay close to home, I still get tired. Now, it’s way more difficult to win even with shorter races closer to home. Now, if you’re out there running, you still have to fight hard for winning.
iRunFar: It seemed you were very intentional this year not only running shorter races but fewer races. Was your goal to be fresh here?
Hernando: Yes, that’s the thing about running for training. It’s easy for me to go out and do longer hours outside, but it’s hard for me to get intensity. That’s why I decided to do shorter races, but I don’t know if it’s going to work or not. I never know what my fitness is for a longer race like a 100 miler. We’ll see. The good thing is I’m really, really young, and I still have a long career in front of me. So I can still try.
iRunFar: Was this one of your two main goals for the year?
Hernando: Yes, of course.
iRunFar: You’ve run UTMB a few times before. You’ve finished second, which is great, and you also have a couple times where you’ve not finished. What was the big difference between those races?
Hernando: Basically, I think it’s been bad luck with my not good races at UTMB. The last time here I was having problems that I’ve never had before starting 14k into the race. It’s things I’ve never had happen to me in trainings. I, of course, train more than 14k. These things have never happened to me before. Also, I’ve had stomach problems before, but both times were early in the race, so I really don’t know. I think it was more a bad luck thing. It’s hard also to go out strong here because it’s such a long race. Maybe you race yourself to explode. I really don’t know… it was bad luck.
iRunFar: This year, it’s once again incredible competition with a good mix of very experienced runners and very fast runners. How will you approach this race?
Hernando: I get here with not many problems besides age. That’s the only big problem I have. I’m a newbie for 100 milers because I’ve only finished one, so I won’t do anything crazy or weird. I’ll just stay behind these big, experienced people and not go faster than them or show up in front of them. I’ll just wait and see what they do and try to copy as much as I can and see how I finish and see how it goes.
iRunFar: Why UTMB again?
Hernando: Basically, it’s because of the media and exposition it has. I’m here at 40 years old and able to be here because of my sponsors, otherwise it would be impossible to be here in such a long career. So, I owe it to my sponsors to be here. Besides the challenge and everything, it’s the only race. There are a lot of races in beautiful places with big competition, but there’s nothing like UTMB regarding the exposition. That’s why I’m here.
iRunFar: Mauri, do you have any questions for Luis Alberto?
Mauri Pagliacci: I’m going to ask him why he’s not here with his full crew—his little boy?
Hernando: I will miss my little kid who is not here and also my big friends like Sergio and his wife who is my whole crew. Sergio is also a great runner and will be racing at the Spanish Championships. It was impossible. I travelled all night to be here Wednesday, and, then, if I’m lucky to be at the awards ceremony on Sunday, it will be with my car on and luggage in it because then I have to rush again and go back to work. It’s sad that not everyone is here and I will miss them, but it is what it is.
iRunFar: Good luck, my friend.
Hernando: Thank you.