When we first thought about setting up Ultra Race Romania we wondered what it really takes to run 250km in a remote part of the world, in self-sufficiency? Courage? A bit of madness? Recklessness? And how are the people who usually embark on such adventures? What drives you to reach the finish line?
Tell us more about yourself Laurent, how and when you started to feel in love with ultra running and with sport in general?
In my childhood I was a football player. Then, for a couple of years I was into martial arts (Jiu Jitsu) and after that I only made sport just for fun, during the weekends. In 2008, I started a new job (I was 44) and my new company was searching for a team player for a marathon in Luxembourg. That event was the starting point of a great adventure because from training for a half marathon and the Paris marathon (I was 50) I discovered, thanks to friends, what the trailrunning was. It was love at first sight and I knew it was just a matter of time until I couldn’t live without it. That was a turning point for me because since then I never stopped running. I was always searching where my limits were. Now I’m not in that quest anymore. Instead I prefer to choose the goals that bring me pleasure and fun: a nice race in a nice place with nice people, that’s my approach now.
What were the toughest races you’ve ever been to?
The last one, the Tahoe 200 miles in California. I had to give up after 100 kilometers because of stomach issues. Then after one day of recovery I was back on the path to help a friend. The second one was the fantastic Grand to Grand Ultra in the Grand Canyon, Utah. A multi-stage race in a wonderful place where I met special persons.
We can imagine that ultra means difficult moments during the races. How do you manage to overpass them?
First the training phase is very important for me. I try to work my best to be in a good shape ’cause that builds a great deal of confidence at the start line. Then, during the race, I cut the big problem in small pieces: a marathon is only four times ten kilometers and the long stage is only four half marathons. Mentally it helps to battle with small demons instead of dealing with the big monster in the first place 🙂
But the last two years were chaotic, with no goals in sight and more injuries due to the lack of preparation. The start of 2021 was very difficult as I had to stop my preparation several times, but fortunately, I’m here in a good shape.
From all the endurance experiences you’ve had so far, why multi-stage? What makes these kinds of races so special?
I prefer multi-stage races because I have a very good capacity to recover from one day to another. With that skill I can enjoy the race which is the principal goal. I’ve tried very long non-stop races like the Tahoe 200, but it was only pain and very few moments of pleasure. Another thing I like in stage races is the people you meet and with which you share those adventures.
If you are to choose between 200 miles multi-stage and 200 miles non-stop what’s it gonna be?
With no hesitation, multistage ! During a multi-stage race, you can enjoy the race and a lot of other things you will not see during a non-stop race.
What’s the mileage you often put into preparing a multi-stage race?
In 2017 for the G2G Ultra I’ve been helped by a coach who taught me how to make a great preparation and his mantra was ‘feelings’.
You have to be on the start line with the best feelings you can and with the maximal freshness. 2021 is a very special year because I’ve not been able to train like in 2017. In 2017, I’ve done one competition per month with a 90K in June. In 2021, there wasn’t any competition to do because of the Covid-19. The most important thing to mention in my preparation is that I’m not only doing trail runs or road runs but also a lot of bike rides and mostly a combination of the two. For example, in a high peak preparation weekend I can do 2 or 3 hours of trail running then move to 3 hours of bike, doing this back-to back the next day also.
Have you had a moment during a race when you were about to quit? What was your motivation to continue?
I rarely have that moment, I’m always mentally strong enough to keep running. I’ve been in that situation only once because of my safety. During the Tahoe 200 in 2019, I had stomach issues and was not able to eat or drink anything. The decision to quit was made over all kinds of motivations I offered to me. When your body is so weak to continue, there is no other way than to face it and move on.
Why Ultra Race Romania? What do you think sets this race apart from others?
I chose the Ultra Race Romania because I met the organizer, Andrei, during the G2G in 2017 and because other fellow runners of that race decided to apply to it, so I had no other choice than to follow them. Apart of that, the perspective to run in the wild mountains of Romania is very exciting !