Marion Delespierre’s steady progression to the top of our sport continued with her fourth-place finish at this year’s UTMB. She’ll get another chance to show what she’s made of at this weekend’s Madeira Island Ultra-Trail. In our first interview with Marion, she talks about her history in sport, how she came to the trails, how her approach to training has changed over the years, and how she balances the demands of being a doctor with those of her training.
Marion Delespierre Pre-2021 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar with Marion Delespierre before the 2021 Madeira Island Ultra-Trail. How are you, Marion?
Marion Delespierre: I’m very fine. It’s my first day of holiday, so it’s very good.
iRunFar: Yes. Then, we’ll just jump right to that. I want to know how; you’re a physician. You’re in sports medicine. How do you balance professional work and trail running?
Delespierre: Oh. It’s not, it’s not easy every day. I have a lot of work in Lyon in France, but I try to do both. And during the week, it’s a short run, but at the end of the week, Monday, it’s a long run, yes.
iRunFar: So with your, with your specific medicine, you can work in the week and have a break on the weekend.
iRunFar: Not in emergency medicine or …?
Delespierre: I’m not in emergency medicine. So it’s easier than an urgentiste [urgent care provider], for example. So during the night, I’m not working and it’s a very good thing when you want to run during the day.
iRunFar: Yeah. But when you’re out on your runs on your weekend, are your friends asking you questions about their Achilles or their pains?
Delespierre: Yes, all my friends, “Hey Marion. I have a pain in my ankle, or my knee.” So I work every day so. But for friends, it’s not a problem.
iRunFar: Not so hard. Yeah. I want to know a little bit about your history with sports or with running. Have you always been an athlete? Or when did you find sports?
Delespierre: Before, I was a swimmer in the North of France, and for my study for medicine, I moved [to] Lyon. So I try another sport with my husband and he likes, he likes running so I, okay, I will taste running.
iRunFar: Yes. And you enjoyed it?
Delespierre: Yes, a lot. It’s, it’s an amazing sport. I … at the beginning, it was flat [running].
iRunFar: On the roads or on the trail?
Delespierre: On the roads. Yes. And after trail and the mountains and …
iRunFar: That was a quick transition I think, because you’ve been running on the trails for, for some years now. Maybe …
Delespierre: Yes. It’s, it was very quick but at the beginning, I have a lot of injuries.
Delespierre: Because my body was not ready to race. When you swim, you are …
Delespierre: Yes. But was very hard two to three first years.
iRunFar: Because you had the cardiovascular capacity. You had …
Delespierre: I have the cardio, but my body wasn’t ready when I start running.
iRunFar: And then why did you start running on trails?
Delespierre: To, to move, to travel, to see a beautiful landscape. It’s very, an amazing sport and I love it.
iRunFar: So maybe in 2018 you were third at the 90k at [Marathon du] Mont Blanc and then you were second at Grand Raid Réunion in 2019. What was the reason for that big jump in performance and that level?
Delespierre: I don’t know, my body progress.
iRunFar: Yeah, yeah.
Delespierre: Training. And since La Réunion, I take a coach.
Delespierre: To help me to have training, quality training. And not to do so much, too.
iRunFar: Focus but with highs and lows. Yes.
Delespierre: And it was a good help for me to have a coach.
iRunFar: Before that, you were just not experimenting, but doing what you enjoyed or …?
Delespierre: Yes, with friends. My friends of Lyon. Tête d’Or Runner is the name of the club. Just enjoying running and …
iRunFar: And now that you have found more focus, do you still enjoy it as much?
Delespierre: Yes. Very, very.
iRunFar: You had an incredible performance. You were fourth at UTMB this year. How did that feel?
Delespierre: It was fantastic. An incredible result for me. I was on my cloud. It was a very good race. I’m very happy to, to finish it in fourth place.
iRunFar: I mean, that’s just such, the level of the competition is so high.
Delespierre: Yes. High level and lots of runners, professional runners so it was incredible.
iRunFar: Yeah. Do you, tell me a little bit about your race, like how it progressed. Did you feel strong in the beginning? Did you have difficulties, or did you feel good the whole time?
Delespierre: Strong at the beginning, that’s a good thing. After, since Vallorcine it was very, very hard for me. I was very tired. And so the end of the race, it was very, very, very hard for me. Luzia [Buehler] was very near me and it’s …
iRunFar: So it was a battle.
Delespierre: Yes. It was very, very hard. The last 30 kilometers were very, very rough.
iRunFar: Which … it’s 30 kilometers, but that’s a lot of time. Six hours.
Delespierre: Yes. It’s a lot of time. It was my second 100 miles.
Delespierre: The first was at La Réunion so, very hard.
iRunFar: Did you enjoy the challenge of having, to really race against another person so late in the race?
Delespierre: Yeah. Lots. Yes.
iRunFar: So it’s very steep at La Réunion, at UTMB. Do you use the trekking poles and will you here? Sticks?
Delespierre: Yes. I take the poles with me and I think it will be a bigger help during the race.
iRunFar: Do you train much with them?
Delespierre: Not a lot. Because where I live, it’s not necessary to go to the mountains where I live. It’s not necessary to have poles so it’s just a few, few races where I used.
iRunFar: But not, so you can’t really practice in training.
iRunFar: Yeah. Well, good luck and I will enjoy watching you race out there.
Delespierre: Thank you, Bryon.
iRunFar: Thank you. Bonne chance.