Caroline’s season can be defined as perfect, winning every single race she took part in. She is the Skyrunning Ultra World Champions and she recently won the 2016 IAU Trail World Championship. In this interview, the Hoka One-One athlete talks to us about how she felt during this extraordinary season and what she has in mind for the 2017.
Will she be able to repeat this year?
Transgrancanaria, UTMB, Buff Epic Trail, Ultra Trail World Tour, IAU Trail World Championship and many more. To sum up, you won everything in 2016. How do manage the pressure of being the one that everybody thinks that will win? Is pressure something that makes you stronger?
In fact, my major problem is that I never feel strong. So, being quoted as one of the favourites for UTMB and World Championships helped me to feel more self-confident. I also think pressure help me to be stronger and to surpass my physical limits. During a minor race, I would never be able to push myself as hard as during UTMB or World Champs.
Some runners said that Trans Peneda-Geres was faster on the map than when they run it. Do you share that opinion? Did you enjoy the race?
For me, it was the opposite: before the race, I guessed we would run this race in more than 10 hours. I enjoyed the course, but it was a bit too runnable and the technical sections were too short. It was also difficult for me to cope with the heat.
Azara García and Ragna Debats had been always behind you during the race. They were close enough so that you couldn’t relax during the whole race. It was a nice fight. Did you enjoy it? How did you manage to keep the distance and keep pushing yourself till the finish line?
I had no idea of the distance between my followers and me before seeing Azara right behind me, about 20 minutes before reaching the last summit. It was quite a surprise for me. From this time, I tried to push myself much harder, and I was able to gain some minutes on her. I always have a lot of pleasure when I have to fight hard for the win. But it’s also very difficult to dig so deeply into my physical resources. I think I won the race during the technical and steep downhill sections. On flat parts or runnable downhill, Azara was much faster than me.
During the race the French runners seemed to be the strongest team. Not just because of the results but, also because you run it like a team. Did you prepare a specific strategy?
No, we had no specific strategy. But we were all very motivated and we were all very happy to run together. The men have more or less all the same level and get along very well, so I was not surprised to learn that they ran the race mostly together.
If you have to sum up this season in one moment, which one will be?
Maybe the arrival of the World Championships: it was my last important race of the season and I realised I did the perfect season. Being World Champion, after a really tough fight against Azara was an immense satisfaction for me and the icing on the cake after this great year. I was so happy and so moved that I had difficulties to express it publicly.
Do you think that it is going to be hard for to you to be motivated enough to compete like in 2017 like you did during this season?
I think I’ll be even more motivated. But maybe, I’ll feel some more pressure, while asking myself: “Can I be as strong as in 2016?”. Can I fulfill again all my goals?” The level is getting higher every year; I need to improve myself I intend to be able to continue being one of the best runners in the world.
Do you know what races will you take part during the next season?
I’ll have to choose, because I want to take part in too many races. For sure, I’ll race UTMB and try to win the UTWT again. I also intend to race some Skyrunning races, in the extreme and ultra circuit. Maybe I’ll run the IAU 50 km World Champs?