How to Train for UTMB – a tale of Soup, Summits, Snow and Seb – Sebastien Chaigneau Interview with Ultra168


This week, a bunch of athletes will be toeing the line in Chamonix, and right now, will be putting the finishing touches to the taper this week. One such person is North Face athlete and accomplished ultra runner and all round bundle of energy, Frenchman Sebastien Chaigneau.

Seb has a track record in long distance mountain races that is up there with the very best. A regular on the podium at both UTMB and Gran Canaria along with forays into the Italian Dolomites to race and win the imposing Lavaredo Trail he has been a constant source of information for other runners to emulate.

I was lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks with Seb and his family when we attended the ISF Transvulcania on the island of La Palma. Even though the race didn’t go exactly to plan for him – he dropped at the final summit alongside Geoff Roes, he still managed to be the life and soul of the party. Frequently seen to be bringing the disparate group of runners from all corners of the world together with a cheery smile and a cheeky joke.

Considering his experience on the big hill above Chamonix I thought it a great opportunity to pick his brains on how to prepare. And boy did I go to town. Over a series of runs, drinks, meals and lounging by the pool, it didn’t take long for the conversation to quickly focus on UTMB where I extracted every bit of information I could.

In the video below, Seb has generously shared with us his key things to get right in both the lead up to the race and also the race itself.

The specifics of  training the quads to deal with some of the longest climbs on the ultra scene, coupled with his approach to descending for hours on end are all so revealing for a first time novice like me at UTMB.

In addition he goes into gear prep, nutrition and what to do in the days leading up to the race. He even makes reference to his claim to fame and secret weapon – the Overstims developed UTMB Soup available at the aid stations on the course that Seb “invented” apparently !

But most of all Seb shares his undying passion for the mountains and the sense of fun and freedom he seeks when standing on the start line of any race. This continued respect and love for the mountains is something that runs so deep in those who seem to conquer them with such ease.

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