After finishing third at last year’s Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, Nathalie Mauclair is back for her second go at UTMB. In the following interview, Nathalie talks about what inspires her to run a 100-mile race, what she thinks of this year’s competition, and some of the strategies she’ll use this weekend.
To find out who else is race UTMB this year, check out our women’s and men’s previews.
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Nathalie Mauclair Pre-2015 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Nathalie Mauclair before the 2015 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB). Nathalie, is it good to be back here in Chamonix?
Nathalie Mauclair: Yes, I am very happy to be here.
iRunFar: You had an incredible 2014 at 100 miles. You were third at Western States. You were third at UTMB. You won Diagonale des Fous. Why do you want to run 100 miles again?
Mauclair: It’s magic to be here. It’s incredible to run around the Mont Blanc. Many people do the trail walking during seven days. Me, I try to run one day, around one day. So it’s magical and I get all, “Let’s go!”
iRunFar: So it really is the mountain that brings you here? The mountain is what is important?
Mauclair: Yes, and it’s beautiful and to climb and to go down and to be in the nature and to cross people who say, “Allez, allez, allez!” It’s magnifique!
iRunFar: There’s also competition. You are not afraid of competition.
Mauclair: Not really. I know it’s a competition, but before it’s an adventure to do 170k and to run during the night and the day. I am alone during a long time, so I am in my head.
iRunFar: Is that good or is that bad?
Mauclair: It’s good. It’s good. I know I will see my family at the checkpoints, so it’s fantastical.
iRunFar: The experience comes before the competition.
iRunFar: You have some strong women here. Núria Picas was second last year, and she is back. Are you excited to race her?
Mauclair: Yes, I’ve run many times now with her. She’s a friend, and I’m happy to see her.
iRunFar: She is very strong. How does one beat Núria?
Mauclair: I don’t know, but I will see. The competition is long and the better will be in front.
iRunFar: This year you’ve had a good rivalry. You’ve been battling with Caroline Chaverot. You beat her at the [IAU Trail World Championships]. She beat you at Lavaredo.
Mauclair: Yes, and now we will see. Caroline, I know her. We were staged with Team France before the championships. We are happy to run together. As I said, the better will be in front.
iRunFar: There are many top women who have run the race, but there are also a few thousand men. Do you see them as someone you are trying to compete with, or do you really focus on the women in the race?
Mauclair: The men don’t run like women. They start fast, and after they go more slowly. So I like when I go…
iRunFar: You catch them?
Mauclair: Yes. It’s my little competition.
iRunFar: You are like Ms. Pacman.
Mauclair: Yes. After, at the finish, I like to see the places I caught.
iRunFar: The general ranking?
iRunFar: The first few times I saw you race, you were very fast at the start. Last year, at least for 100 miles, you started going slower at the start. Will you do that here?
Mauclair: I hope. I hope to start more slowly. On 100 miles, it’s not possible or reasonable to start fast because it’s very long. After, the body says, “Uggghhh, I’m tired.” So we go more slowly. It’s better to start slowly and go every time go on.
iRunFar: Of any race I’ve been to, this race may be the hardest to go slow at the start. There are 2,000 people running. There are 10,000 people in town. It’s just slightly downhill.
Mauclair: Yes, you have to be careful to start slow. You can run faster during the 5k, but when there is less people, the runners go slowly.
iRunFar: Do you have a favorite memory from the race last year at UTMB?
Mauclair: Yes, last year I start a little fast, so after the half the race at Grand Col Ferret, I was tired. In La Fouly I couldn’t run really. So I hope this year I will arrive with more energy, and run more slowly but every time (continue).
iRunFar: When the sun comes up, the sun rises in the morning, you’re still wanting to be pushing?
Mauclair: Yes, I love these moments of the day—when the sun shines (rises) and goes down. It’s magic. I’m in the nature! I’m alone! Another day comes!
iRunFar: And the morning, the first light in La Fouly is magnificent.
iRunFar: Best of luck, Nathalie.
Mauclair: Thank you, Bryon.
iRunFar: Enjoy your race.
Mauclair: Thank you.