After placing second for the second time in a trail world championships in Thailand last year, Nicolas Martin returns to run the 2023 Trail World Championships 80k in Innsbruck-Stubai, Austria. In the following interview, Nico talks about how he’s spent the last 15 days in the area of the race, how the depth of the French team is a big strength, why he ran less this winter, and how he’s coming into this race with a different mindset and different training than last year.
Nicolas Martin Pre-2023 Trail World Championships 80k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Nico Martin before the 2023 Trail World Championships. How are you, Nico?
Nicolas Martin: I’m okay. It’s a good city, Innsbruck. I run the mountain. I come in Innsbruck for 15 days to recon, and stay in 2,000 meters for acclimatization. So it’s okay. I have a lot of pleasure during the end of the training. So I’m very happy, and I hope to have a good race for me and the French team.
iRunFar: So were you staying up in Stubaital somewhere or where were you in the area?
Martin: I’m in Kühtai, just about 40 minutes of driving to Innsbruck, just there, Kühtai Valley. It’s a very, very beautiful place. It’s calm. I like to enjoy the end of the training. But it’s for me, the race is important but along the [journey is] more important.
iRunFar: So how do you balance that? I mean, if you were here for what you said 15 days, two weeks?
Martin: Yes, two weeks.
iRunFar: So that’s pretty close to the race. How do you balance getting in kilometers and training but still also being fresh?
Martin: True. We have the French team came to Innsbruck one month at the end of April, to first recons, but a lot of snow so it’s difficult to see the summit of the uphill. So I come 15 days before the race to see just for 30 kilometers I think, so it’s okay.
iRunFar: Yeah. You’re not out there doing 30 kilometers every day.
Martin: Just, and I love cycling, so for four hours of cycling the second day in Austria. Just a lot of pleasure. I’m happy to run with this level now after 10 years in the French team. So it’s, I’m relaxed. It’s a long, long race. So patient, patient, patient at the beginning of the race. Like a long day with a friend in mountain at the first part of the race, I think.
iRunFar: Maybe yeah, just relax.
iRunFar: If you have a friend there, even talk.
Martin: Confidence in my pace. The last year I take second place. It’s a little surprise for me. So now just enjoy the day. And if I enjoy the day, I think it’s possible to have a good place.
iRunFar: Yeah. You said 10 years on the French National Team. This is your sixth Trail World Championship?
iRunFar: And you’ve been, twice you’ve been second place.
iRunFar: Is this the year? Do you dream?
Martin: My dream is to become a World Champion.
iRunFar: Yeah. [laughs]
Martin: But we have, Jim Walmsley is not here. So it’s a different race with Jim. I say that it’s impossible to win the race. So it’s easy to me to run my own patience. But I stay with the same mind. I think it’s a very, very difficult race. And I think the best runner during the three or four last hours, I think it will be, the winner will be World Champion. So, patient. And the French Team is very strong. Last year Thibaut Garrivier was sick. I think he loves this race. Big uphill, big downhill, not flat part. So it’s like a little CCC.
Martin: More concentrated. More difficult. So I think Thibaut was a good runner. And Hannes [Namberger] andAndreas Reiterer. So stay focused on my race during the beginning and after. I will see.
iRunFar: So, having been on the French team for so long, have you taken over the role of father of the French team? Maybe taking that role from Ludovic Pommeret?
Martin: Yes, Ludovic. We’ve made for seven years, so it’s different now. I’m the oldest this year in the long race. So I’m the captain.
iRunFar: Okay. But do you also,
Martin: Ten years ago I was a very young runner. And my first World Championship was very difficult. At the beginning, the race was very fast, and I was with Thierry Breuil. And now I’m Thierry Breuil, and Benjamin Roubiol or Baptiste Chassagne are the young runners. So maybe I can help them to be passionate for the good pacing. But the main goal for me is a world, is a gold medal in team. Last year Adam Peterman was amazing. So France takes a second place. Now it’s, could be Jim, but Jim is not here. So I think the French team is a favorite team.
Martin: But very, the five runners are very close on a team level. So it’s more pressure for everybody. For everyone. Just be patient.
iRunFar: Yeah, because that changes the dynamic, because you are five very good runners.
iRunFar: Does it allow people to almost be more relaxed? You don’t have to be first position to have a high team finish.
iRunFar: You could be seventh.
Martin: Yes. It’s possible to win the gold team title with everyone, with each runner of the French team, I think.
Martin: But it’s better to see if Thibaut or me are on the podium. But it’s important to success, your race and the longer races is the main goal. And after you stay with, you play with the other runner to the medal, but it’s not the main goal for me. And it’s very important to take pleasure in the training. It’s all good training. So I’m happy to be on the start line. And after, it’s easier because it’s just, put step by step during 10 hours. [laughs]
iRunFar: So last year the Trail World Championships were in November. Did you take a break in the winter? Or not a break, but did you lower training?
Martin: Yes, I took a break for an ankle pain during two months, 10 days after the World Championship for a shooting with Brooks.
iRunFar: You had a photoshoot injury!
Martin: During two or three months at the middle of January was difficult. But my first goal during this season is World Championship. Just take part of French National Championship on the short trail, to try to take the selection of short trail, but it’s so difficult in France. It’s very, very competitive. I took only the 13th place. But it was a good day for me. At the start of the race, it’s not a good day mentally. I start very fast. I’m angry at the other runners. So fast! So fast! And I lose two minutes in 20 minutes at the beginning of the race. So after, a good finish. And after this race at the middle of March, it’s a focus on the World Championship. It’s not my best, my base profile. I prefer the last year in Thailand. For me, six or seven hours of race, there is the best, like [Grand Trail des] Templiers.
iRunFar: Something that’s a mix of, it’s mountain, but it’s runnable mountains
Martin: Yes. I love runnable. For example, 15 kilometers it’s preferred. Now it’s more working in the uphill and go very fast in the downhill.
iRunFar: So Thailand was perfect for you.
Martin: Yeah, yes it’s, for Thibaut, I think Benjamin Roubiol on the French Team. I like this track. But I try new things in the training to be a good runner of this track. So I’m happy to my training so it’s the most important. It’s difficult to have a good… So last year, just before the race, it’s for me it was, a medal, a medal, a medal, a medal. It’s possible. Now, maybe a medal in individual is possible, but that’s not the main goal. That’s the same mind. Focus on my course during the beginning. After, I will see. After Axamer Lizum or Hoadl if I just go slowly, and I’m okay just five or six minutes behind the lead, it’s perfect.
iRunFar: All right. Well, bonne chance out there, and enjoy!