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Interview of Jonathan Wyatt - 25th may 2009

- English version - French version

L'Alsace en courant : Hi Jonathan. You won seven times the world mountain running championship and world mountain running Grand Prix. You have the record of many montain races, like Sierre-Zinal or Jungfrau marathon. You've also exceptionnal references on the road with 2:13:00 on marathon and 27:56.72 on the 10000m. What do you enjoy most about running ? and particularly in mountain running ?

Jonathan Wyatt : I get a sense of freedom - i think it is the best stress release so that is what i enjoy most about running. And when you are in the mountains this for me makes this even bigger. Trail running and and being in the mountains is a big challenge to run up a long steep hill and the reward is the view at the top - i find this very satisfying. i am a competitor so for the training i like to have some goals to work towards - i have enjoyed racing on the track, cross country and the roads and of course in the mountains - the competitions give me the motivation to train hard. i grew up in New Zealand - in a city called Lower Hutt, i could run 5 minutes then be running in forest as well as over farmland with a lot of hills. i grew up on this and so i became good at running on the hills.

In Europe, New-Zeland is mainly known for the All-back, the best rugbymen of the world (even if french Team beats them sometimes ;-) With Anna Forst, you prove that you're also the best montain runners ! The moving "The lord of the ring" has been filmed in New-Zeland, that has allowed to us to discover an island with splendid lanscape and beautiful mountains. Do you think New-Zeland is particularly adapted for mountain runners ?

Yes, it is there is a lot of opportunity to run on the hills - and where i lived near to Wellington there are many hills there. Mellissa Moon (2 time World Trophy winner) also lives close to me in the same town. But i think the reason is more that we have the tradition from a very young age for sport and also for running with cross country races always up and down hills on farmlands around the country - so hill running feels very natural to young runners growing up. we have been lucky in that mountain running has also attracted athletes of strong ability in track running and cross country so it does have credibility from the national federation and also from the public.
What is your secret to be at the top for more than 10 years on mountain running ?

No secret - it's just many years of training - i have always run on the hills - right from when i first started to train at 12 years old ! I have a big endurance base and i think until 2006 I went for about 18 years without any serious injury. This has helped me make a big endurance base - it is sure that after an injury at the end of 2006 i have come back strong but not stronger than before and it has been more difficult after this.
Do you practice other sports ? or exclusively running ? Some people practice the cross training, alternating running and mountain bike for example.

I love being outdoors in nature so I cross country ski in winter, i road and mountain bike, go hiking with my wife. I do some gym work too as training.

Grand-Ballon 2009
Which kind of training plan do you advise to prepare a race as the Grand-Ballon ?

Its a long climb - a classic mountain race so getting used to the long uphill running is important. Training with a good 20 mins of uphill is good. i train about 2 days per week specific on the hills (repeats, and a long consistent climb) and then 2 days a little flatter, other days are on hills with a long easy run and often a race.
In France, these last years, Trail running became very in vogue, more than mountain running. Do you observe the same phenomenon in others countries ? For you, what is the main difference between trail running and traditional long distance montain running like Sierre-Zinal or Jungfrau marathon ?

I think the Jungfrau is still in vogue and sierre zinal is quite similar to trail events. It is often a question of how the race is marketed. some new events like the Trans-Alp run from Germany-Austria-Italy is really now very popular but the well organised mountain races are still doing well its normal the people look for new things so the ones that are well prmoted are dong well.

You sponsor is now Salomon. You belong to the Salomon team of Osterich. You also contribute to Salomon insiders web pages : www.salomonrunning.com/os/insiders.aspx Do you also work with Salomon to improve their equipment ? In order to have always the best for runner like us ?

Yes, i am trying - i trained as an architect and have enjoyed working on design projects and so working with the design guys at Salomon has been really interesting for me. They are working closely with us in a partnership to try new ideas and build some really performing products that runners can use. I am very hard on the testing i do so know if i like it then it's probably going to perform well.
What advices do you want to give on young people, who> also want to pratice mountain running ?

Its a good sport for kids - to show them how to enjoy the mountains and have a respect for them. I think its important to start with shorter races and not too difficult and build up slowly. To run on the track and cross country is also important to maintain basic speed - trying a lot of different types of running and sports will help them choose the ones they like the best.

Have you something to add for french runners ?

Vive la France!

With Jean-Alain Haan, the Grand-Ballon race organiser

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