Back for the 2021 race, France’s Nico Martin has raced Les Templiers an incredible eight previous times. He returns to the race having finished second at the most recent edition, and second a total of three previous times. In the following interview, Nico talks about why he loves Les Templiers, how one of his running career goals is to win this race, and how he feels going into this year’s edition.
Nico Martin Pre-2021 Les Templiers Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar, here with Nico Martin before the 2021 Grand Trail des Templiers. How are you?
Nico Martin: Fine, and you?
iRunFar: I’m very well thank you. How many times have you run Les Templiers?
Martin: Nine times, I think.
iRunFar: This is your ninth time, wow.
Martin: I missed one edition in 2016 I think. For the Trail World Championships in Portugal. I love Les Templiers, Le Grand Trail.
iRunFar: So maybe it’s good that the Thailand race [this year’s Trail World Championships] was postponed some time, for this year.
Martin: Yeah, yeah, just for me.
iRunFar: What do you like so much about this race, that you keep coming back every time?
Martin: I have two dreams at the beginning of my career. To be on the national team and win the Grand Trail des Templiers. So I come back here to try to win this race. Three times second place. So I try but the years past it was difficult for me. I think Sunday should be a difficult race, we have Robbie Simpson, Jonathan Albon, Sebastien Spehler, so I try and I love this race. The color of the fall and the smells, it’s my heart race.
iRunFar: It’s your favorite race?
Martin: Yes, after this year I win Trail des Passerelles du Monteynard, it’s at home, just one kilometer from my house. It’s my favorite race, it’s the second here.
iRunFar: You have accomplished one of your goals, you’ve been on the trail world champion team, a few times. The trail world team. You’ve made that. So you still have to win Les Templiers, and to do that you have to beat Seb Spehler, which, two times you’ve been second to him.
Martin: Seb is very fast, yeah. But I think for Sunday it will be another race. With Robbie, Jonathan, the last time in 2018 it was just a race between Seb and me, for the win. And this time, I think, three, four, or five runners can win the race.
iRunFar: With that, changes the dynamic, so maybe some runners go too hard? Or they push each other.
Martin: Maybe. I think the French runner has an advantage because Seb or me, we have a good finish on the track. It’s a special race, the track is harder. So it’s not easy when you discover this race for the first time. It’s not easy.
iRunFar: You improved over the years and same with Seb.
Martin: It’s important to, you need experience to push yourself in the final part. So I think Seb and me have a little advantage but Jonathan will be very, very strong. Five of the six first runners of OCC will be on the start line, so it’s not the same race but it’s similar, I think.
iRunFar: So in many years you run a lot of very competitive races. This year you ran shorter races, maybe smaller races except for OCC. Is that something you chose to do, was there a reason for that?
Martin: For me, the Golden Trail Series are the most relevant races in the world. I love these races. It’s not my best races I think, I prefer OCC or Grand Trail des Templiers. My favorite races are between six and eight hours of running. But I love relevant races. So I tried, not easy for me with my age but it’s not very important, I take pleasure is more important.
iRunFar: And maybe that gives you really good fitness for a longer race. Maybe you are more sharper?
Martin: Yes, I think it’s good for the longer races, for the beginning of the race and in Grand Trail des Templiers, the first part is very, very fast so it’s necessary to run fast, to stay with Seb or Robbie. The race begins really in La Roque Ste-Marguerite at 45k, I think. But it’s difficult to go to La Roque with a good time but it’s necessary to keep fresh, to push yourself in the final part.
iRunFar: That last climb.
Martin: Yes, the last climb, but I think often it’s between La Roque and Mas de Bru, and at the top of Mas de Bru and la Cade. And just the last hour of race, it’s not very, very important. It’s just push yourself, push yourself, but often the time stays between the runners.
iRunFar: So maybe hour five, hour six, are the most important?
Martin: Yes, yes.
iRunFar: The end, you’re going to push, everything you have.
Martin: For me, two races. On race is to go to La Roque Ste-Marguerite after I push myself, push myself, push myself. Just push yourself, it’s a fight between me and me.
iRunFar: And hopefully you win?
iRunFar: Maybe not to rob you, you’re the top competitors but with all of your experience here, do you have any advice for someone running, maybe this for the first time?
Martin: It’s necessary to start slowly, for the same advice for top runner, stay cool and to go to La Roque Ste-Marguerite after push, push, push, if you can.
iRunFar: Seems like you are still excited for this race after all these years?
Martin: Yes, yes. I just cover the trail running in Grand Trail des Templiers in 2007 for the first win of Thomas Lorblanchet, and I have to win this race, it’s a dream.
iRunFar: Bon chance. Thank you so much.