Today we welcome back to the pages of Ultra168, Pol Puig Collderram from the Spanish running website, Corredor de Montana. Once in a while we like to bring a different perspective and insight into ultrarunning around the world and in Pol’s last article for Ultra168, he interviewed Norwegian ultra running star, Yngvild Kaspersen.
This time, Pol has interviewed Joel Jaile Casademont a Spanish ultra runner who runs the hardest races you can imagine across the world, the last one being Transpyrenea, which is the feature of this article. This race crosses the whole of the Pyrenees from El Pertús (France) to Hendaia (Vasque Country) and I know there are a few of our hardcore readers who will be eyeing this one up with a passion.
Two hundred and fifty runners started the race this year and less than 30 made it. Joel Jaile took over 13 days to complete the 866km with 65,000mD+. Let’s see what he can tell us about this awesome experience and a massive thanks to Pol for writing this article for us.
You ran for 13 days and 20 hours to complete Transpyrenea, will you repeat the experience?
I don’t think that I will repeat the experience because I don’t like to repeat races. There are a lot of places where I would like to run that I haven’t been there yet.
Let’s start from the beginning. When you heard that the first edition of Transpyrenea would take place, what was the first thing that came to your mind?
I thought that it would be a great event and I wanted to be there, for sure. Apart from that, I completed the GR11 (it’s a footpath that runs through the Spanish Pyrenees passing briefly into France), which was a dream I had since I was a child. I didn’t know the French part very well, so this was a good chance to do it.
You’ve run and finished some of the hardest races across the world. What is your main motivation to do it? Why do you like these type of races?
The motivation and the sensations that every runner feels are different. For example, I do love running these races because I like the feeling of being part of the nature. I also like challenging myself and use my body as a transport. This makes me feel human.
Obviously, you have a solid base that allows you to take part in adventures like this one. We would like to know how you train yourself to be able to run these races. What type of training do you do to get ready for it?
Since I was a kid, I have been into the mountains and that is my base. As a runner, I have been in plenty of races and this is what gives you the experience. Increasing the distance and the hardness of the race is what will help you to be stronger and finishing races like Transpyrenea.
I am sure that many runners would like to be able to do what you have done. What knowledge and experience do you think they should have before trying one of these races?
Being out there as many hours as you can is key. It’s not enough to run 24-hour races. You might be a great runner, but for multi-day races with self-sufficiency, you need to be out there. You have to spend lots of days and nights out there hiking.
Navigation knowledge is vital, especially during the night. You have to prepare yourself to overcome situations that you are likely to find in adventures like this one. The mental part, it’s the most important, and this is something that you will achieve through hours and hours out there. Experience is the most valuable asset.
Running 866km across the Pyrenees means lots of experiences. Would you mind telling us what gear you used and the weight of your backpack?
The weight of the backpack I carried was 10kg because I did the race without any external help. We had the option to get external help but I didn’t want to.
All the clothes were from Grifone. I’ve been using their clothes for a while and I do love it because it’s light, breathable and comfortable. I feel safe with Grifone’s gear. I use Twonav Anima+ as a GPS.
Spot Gen3 is very important for my safety. It also helps my family and friends to know where I am. Every two minutes they can see the exact point where I am though Google Maps. I think that this is something that should be compulsory in this type of races.
I use Hoka Speedgoat because I think that are the best shoes for long distance.
In terms of food, it’s easy because my family owns a food company. So, I ate a lot of Jamon and other meat. I also ate nuts and dried fruit.
Do you have any sponsors that help you in these adventures?
Yes and they helped me with all the material that I used during this race. My sponsors are Spot, Grifone, Twonac, Salice, Armytek. They are always helping me with all the challenges that I take part in.
Few participants make it to the end. How do you manage the mental aspects and your body to survive it?
It’s very important to start in a conservative way. You always have the sensations that you could go faster however. It’s also very important to sleep a lot. These types of races always put you in your place. It’s very important not to push yourself too much. Eating well and having a good hydration the whole race is also a key factor if you want to finish it.
Long-distance runs means emotional ups and downs. What was the best and worst moments of the race?
To be sincere, this has been one of the races that I enjoyed the most. As a runner, I had great views and I felt pretty good the whole race. I also had the privilege to share long journeys and lots of km with some friends that I met during the race. One of the highlights of the race was when I saw the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. The worst part of the race was the start. I spent two days having stomach issues and after 40km I almost dropped completely.
Can you tell us a story from the race?
We were on the top of a mountain after leaving the first aid station and a thunderstorm started with lots of rain and hail close to where we were. Suddenly, lightening came down right next to us and I was really scared because the thunderstorm was behind us but it was moving pretty fast in our direction. I started to run faster with the goal to avoid it and I did it. In doing that I almost left all my gear behind that I was carrying because the thunderstorm was really close.
I’m going to race Ultra-Trail Gobi Race in China, a 400km non-stop self-sufficient crossing of the Gobi desert. Can’t wait for it!