Interview with Diego Pazos
Although not well known in German-speaking Switzerland, Diego Pazos is one of the main figures in the ultra trail running scene. This Lausanne native ranks among the first in traditional races such as the Eiger Ultra Trail, Mont Blanc Ultra Trail or Transgrancanaria.
Your career doesn't follow a classic arc at all. You played football for many years before getting serious about a career as a runner. Why are you fascinated by running in general and Ultra trails in particular?
Football was a huge part of my childhood, teenhood and a part of my young adult life, I have great memories of it and a good initiation into team spirit, even if football isn't always a model for respect and behaviour. At a certain point, I just needed new challenges, to get out of my comfort zone and to see what I was capable of.
I started with road races in the Lausanne region, then mountain races with the aim in 2011 of doing Sierre Zinal while still playing football! Then at the end of 2011, the pictures of the UTMB, seeing all these "crazies", these enthusiasts running for so long in such a magical landscape just really fascinated me and I said to my wife that this was the kind of challenge I wanted to set myself.
Subsequently, Ultra running has become a passion, it's a unique sport and probably the only one where so many parameters come into play: you need to know how to handle a lot of unknowns, and nobody is above getting a nasty surprise. But above all, this is a sport that is the true expression of going beyond yourself and that generates so many emotions and opportunities to share with the other competitors, the support team and the followers, it's truly magical!
Many runners are now turning to ultra-marathoning. What would be your three best tips for success over long distances?
- Don't go for success, go for the experience, discover this adventure lasting several hours handling a large number of parameters but also very strong interaction with the other runners.
- Do it gradually and keep up with regular training to avoid injuries, but above all don't hesitate to set yourself this kind of challenge.
- Stay humble, in a society focused on image and ego battles, you really need to know how to take a step back and analyse the races, both successes and failures.
During an ultra-marathon, refueling plays an important, even decisive role. What does your refueling plan look like for a race like the Eiger Ultra Trail?
Refueling is indeed very important, but it is especially important to eat and hydrate properly and regularly throughout the event. This may seem trivial but it is very easy to forget to eat at times and usually you pay for this kind of mistake in one way or another.
As for supplies, generally I change water bottles and take provisions that I prepared in a bag for the next race Segment.
During my refueling stop, I always make sure I have extra equipment (shoes, t-shirts, socks, etc) and usually more consistent savoury food that I can't take with me with my wife who is an expert on the topic.
This year, your organising a race yourself. Can you tell us a bit about your project and what are the current challenges that organisers of this kind of event can expect?
Yes indeed, this year I have embarked on the organisation of the Montreux Trail Festival (MXT) which will take place for the first time from 27 to 30th July 2017. I wanted people to discover my fantastic training grounds around Montreux and the Vaudois Alps, but with my team we would also like to offer a different type of concept where everyone has a great time, from the runner to your average spectator as well as the support team who are often neglected. During this kind of event, the runner doesn't come alone, they come with family or friends and we want them to have a good time as well. This wish is particularly based in my personal experience on some races where my wife waits for me for long spells while biting her nails and without any form of entertainment.
With this in mind, the MXT aims to be a subtle mix of music and trail running with musical entertainment at certain points of the course and free concerts on the market square in Montreux and Villars-sur-Ollon. It's also an opportunity to party with friends at Freddie’s Night15 for example, a 15km rite of passage at sunset and during the night without any time limits, open to everyone with with plenty of entertainment along the way... the spirit of Freddie Mercury will be present to help the runners along!
All in all, there will be 7 race formats: www.montreux-trail.ch
An MXT Village will be deployed from Thursday 27th July to Sunday 30th July 2017 under the covered market and on the Place du Marché in Montreux. All the finish lines will be centralised in the Village but it will also be a festival village with a stage, and specially chosen exhibitors and food stands for the occasion.
This event is a huge challenge and I hope that it will be seen as such. There is a race with several formats to be organised and above all an Ultra course that is very demanding in terms of resources, but also you have to put together a musical programme with live shows at strategic points of the course. This is a massive job, but one that we are approaching with plenty of passion and enthusiasm!
If you are getting ready for a race like the Eiger Ultra Trail, there is certainly some key training that can help you to draw conclusions about your physical condition. Can you tell us the secret of your success?
Generally speaking, the preparation races are the ones giving you this kind of indication because often the last big trainings two weeks before the big day are synonymous with tiredness, especially just before resting and tapering. This is basically the aim of overcompensation so that you can start in great shape on the big day. If my last long run went well and I enjoyed it, then it's all go.
The key to success for Ultra running in my opinion is to get to race day with a fairly fresh mental outlook in order to want to dig deep when the going gets tough. Beware of overtraining which can be more detrimental to performance than a slight lack of training. One last tip, people tend to concentrate on uphill training, but in trail running, downhill is just as important and a poor downhill runner will lose much more time than a bad climber!
Many thanks to Diego Pazos for the interesting answers.
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