In 2019, Pablo Villa had his best season at longer ultras, taking second at Transgrancanaria and winning TDS. In this, our first interview with him, Pablo talks about his history with sport, why he runs trails, and how he builds his race calendar.
Pablo Villa Pre-2020 Transgrancanaria Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Pablo Villa before the 2020 Transgrancanaria. How are you, Pablo?
Pablo Villa: Fine. I’m very happy to stay here.
iRunFar: This is our first time interviewing you and I’m excited about that. I’ve followed you for many years and here we are.
Villa: It’s my first interview in English. I’m happy to the first time being with iRunFar.
iRunFar: That’s exciting. And you’re brave for doing your first English interview. First I’d like to know a little bit about your history with sport. Did you start as a runner or did you play other sports?
Villa: Yes. When I was young I did karate, football, and the normal sports in the Spanish school. But I went to the mountains with my father all the time. I started trying mountains about seven, eight years. And I did ski mountain, climbing, and run. When I was 15, 14 or 15, I started to run in the highest school. Cross-country, track races. In 2012 I run my first time in TDS in UTMB. And I finished in fourth position and I think it’s my start in the trail running world.
iRunFar: Yeah? So why did you, did you start trails because you had always grown up in the mountains? Why do you run trails? Because you also did cross country and track. Why trails?
Villa: I like, I think mountain running has the best of the running and the best of the mountains. I like a lot the mountains and I like a lot to run so it’s my sport.
iRunFar: It’s perfect.
Villa: It’s perfect.
iRunFar: We talked a little bit earlier how in the past you have done a little skiing.
Villa: I love the track and field and I love the mountains so my sport is trail running.
iRunFar: And in some past winters you’ve done some ski mountaineering but now just running.
Villa: Yes. I like mountain ski, ski mountain, but it’s difficult to do in my town because there isn’t a lot of snow. So it’s difficult running ski mountain. But I like to spend five or six days in the winter with my skis.
iRunFar: Okay. Your schedule is a little different. Your running calendar is a little different from other runners, because you run many races.
iRunFar: But one or two long races a year. How do you make your calendar?
Villa: Yes. I think the long races are very hard so I like to do two long races but with some months.
Villa: Yes with the stance within the races. I like to run fast, the skyrunning. So I think to do short races, lot of races, made you more competitive.
iRunFar: So you like to have that mix but not too many long.
Villa: Yeah. No, not too many long.
iRunFar: In the past you’ve maybe also had some challenges with long races. I think maybe twice you stopped in TDS?
Villa: Yes. My first one I think was Ultra Pirineu in 2017. Yes. I think it is my first one. My first one in the Skyrunning world cup. My best goal was the last year at TDS. I crossed the line in first position in Chamonix is the best thing for ultrarunning.
iRunFar: And does that feel, did that give you more confidence with these long races, having won, having a good run at Transgrancanaria here last year and winning TDS?
Villa: Yes. For me the last year at Transgrancanaria was a surprise because in February, March is not my best moment in the season. I’m focusing in August on UTMB. So I finished in second position was very good for me. But this year I feel stronger than the last year and I think I could run faster than the last year but I don’t know. I feel really good. I feel really fast but Pau Capell is very strong but I don’t know what will I finish.
iRunFar: Yeah. I mean, Pau has three victories here in a row.
iRunFar: And UTMB last year.
Villa: Yes, of course. I think he is the king in the long distance without Kilian [Jornet] or François [D’haene]. He’s very fast probably.
iRunFar: But anything can happen in a race, so you might try to challenge him?
Villa: …Is nothing. [laughs]
iRunFar: [laughs] So why did you come back to Transgrancanaria this year?
Villa: Because I like a lot the Canary Islands. I think it’s a spectacular landscape. And the race is long but it’s fast and you have to run in the night, so it’s a good test for me, thinking in UTMB.
iRunFar: So this year, no TDS, you’ll do the full UTMB?
Villa: Yes. This year for me the goal is UTMB, of course.
iRunFar: Well good luck this weekend.
Villa: Thank you very much. I’m sorry for my bad English. [laughs]
iRunFar: Your English is great. [laughs] You can tell your coach you’re doing a great job.
Villa: Thank you.