If Ludovic Pommeret graces the place to begin of the 2024 UTMB, he’ll achieve this at the twentieth anniversary of his first try on the respected race. And he positioned 5th at the newest, 2023 version.
There don’t seem to be many athletes on this game or any who can boast the 48-year-old Frenchman’s longevity, and nonetheless compete on the best possible stage. We stuck up with him to look if shall we glean any insights to this, and to listen to probably the most tale of his illustrious profession within the mountains.
Pommeret used to be born in Grenoble, France, the place he lived for 5 years till his oldsters moved to the mountains. The circle of relatives moved another time prior to sooner or later settling in Valloire, a ski lodge within the Savoie area, the place Pommeret lived from the age of 10 till he returned to Grenoble for college.
It used to be in Valloire that he had his initiation to mountain sports activities, and he stated: “I used to be no longer mountaineering, extra snowboarding and skiing. I used to be additionally doing a little windsurfing at the lakes. However no longer in point of fact operating till I used to be 25 a minimum of.”
Pommeret’s initiation to operating within the mountains used to be no longer via any formal training or coaching philosophy — however began out as a amusing problem with circle of relatives. He shared: “My brothers-in-law — my spouse has two brothers — had been runners and so they had been doing a race in 2000. There used to be slightly a large number of hiking. They driven me to take part on this race.”
Pommeret shocked himself and the others along with his herbal skill, and cheerfully recounted: “As I used to be no longer working towards operating, they anticipated to overcome me, but it surely used to be no longer the case!”
Later that very same 12 months, he set his points of interest on a larger problem — an area 107-kilometer path ultramarathon beginning in Valloire, however he didn’t end, and stated, “For the primary one, it used to be an excessive amount of.”
Moderately than beginning with shorter races and build up incrementally, Pommeret used to be attracted to the problem of simply completing an excessively lengthy distance. He endured to coach and increase miles, with the objective of at some point completing his native extremely, however the race used to be canceled prior to he had any other alternative to run it.
“After which I attempted any other race in 2004, it used to be referred to as UTMB, you understand this one?” he requested wryly. Right here Pommeret suffered any other DNF, having nonetheless no longer cracked the code on easy methods to educate for lengthy races, and with little operating enjoy.
Ultimately, it referred to as for a metamorphosis in technique: “Then I began to run some shorter distances to coach, and began to have just right effects.”
A number of the extremely aggressive shorter races he finished had been the 2007 Sierre-Zinal, the place he made the highest 20, and the 2008 Les Templiers, the place he positioned fourth.
Even if nonetheless self-coached and coaching in a rather haphazard way, Pommeret used to be amassing enjoy and miles-in-legs and endured to head from energy to energy. Additionally in 2009, he cracked the 100k distance in excellent style, hanging 3rd on the CCC.
He shared, “It used to be no longer in point of fact coaching, I favored to head within the mountains for operating and I used to be racing slightly so much. I used to be racing nearly each and every two weeks in summer season, and I used to be additionally doing ski climbing within the wintry weather.”
To nowadays, Pommeret divides himself between the 2 disciplines — pursuing path operating in the summertime and ski climbing within the wintry weather. He attributes this steadiness partially to his longevity, announcing: “I feel [skimo] is one of those pass coaching throughout wintry weather. It’s nonetheless an job that calls for a large number of effort and it’s just right coaching. It will provide you with extra energy, however there’s much less have an effect on and it’s higher for the joints. It is helping to recuperate just a little throughout wintry weather from small accidents that you just pick out up in the summertime.”
A turning level for Pommeret used to be when he used to be decided on to run for France on the 2015 Path Global Championships, held in Annecy, France. Resolved to do the most productive he may just with the chance to constitute his nation, he stated: “This used to be once I began to paintings with a trainer. I sought after to have a extra structured preparation for the arena championships.”
Pommeret positioned 5th, and operating on Crew France on the international championships turned into a staple on his calendar for many years yet to come, with two extra fifth-place finishes in 2016 and 2018 being the prime issues.
His stepped forward coaching construction additionally led him to a win on the 2016 UTMB — a race that simply completing had in the past eluded him. He shared, “I feel I’ve performed UTMB seven occasions however completed simplest 4. The 2016 race is the most productive reminiscence. Particularly as a result of I used to be a little bit bit in poor health at first of the race, and I couldn’t consider that I may just win.”
Any other tournament that has drawn Pommeret again time and again is the Diagonale des Fous on Réunion Island. He took 2d within the 100 miler in 2009, 2014, and 2019, prior to tying for the win with Dani Jung in 2021.
In 2023, he used to be again, however with a special goal. He stated, “This 12 months I went there with my spouse. We had been operating in combination, and we would have liked to complete in combination. We attempted ultimate 12 months [and didn’t finish] and this 12 months, 2d try, we completed. It used to be her first 100-mile end.”
Pommeret talked in regards to the distinctive tradition and atmosphere round Diagonale des Fous that helps to keep drawing him again. He stated: “Everybody at the island is aware of about this race and everybody desires of at some point finishing it … and to find the island during the race, it’s in point of fact particular.”
During his operating profession, and along circle of relatives lifestyles, Pommeret has endured to paintings as a pc science engineer, and lately works for air visitors keep an eye on in Geneva, Switzerland. After I requested him if he discovered it tough to seek out the time to coach along different obligations, he stated: “It used to be up to now, as a result of I used to be running complete time till ultimate 12 months, and in Switzerland that’s 41 hours a week. However for the previous 12 months I’m running 60% of that, in order that’s a lot more at ease.”
He endured, “If you find yourself running complete time and coaching, it’s laborious to spend time with the circle of relatives and there are compromises. Now additionally my daughters are older, they’re 19 and 22, so they want much less of my time.”
These days, Pommeret divides his time between his mid-week house, on the subject of Geneva, and the circle of relatives’s 2d house within the mountains close to Valloire. He buildings his coaching round this, and stated: “All the way through the week once I’m running, it’s extra coaching on flat paths, and the weekend extra at the mountains.”
Having already raced broadly all through Europe, in 2021 Pommeret used to be first bitten by means of the Western States 100 trojan horse — when he traveled to the long-lasting American extremely to tempo French teammate, Audrey Tanguy. The next 12 months, with a Golden Price tag in hand, he returned and positioned 6th in his Western States 100 debut.
Most often at house within the mountains, the recent and rapid downhill race used to be a step out of doors of Pommeret’s convenience zone, and he stated: “It’s a must to be ready to run 90% of the race. Even in UTMB, you’ll stroll. In Diagonale des Fous, you run even much less, however the Western States 100 is other. It’s a must to arrange additionally the warmth, because it’s most often in point of fact heat, however for me essentially the most tough phase is to run at all times.”
Pommeret then demonstrated his versatility by means of following up his sixth-place end on the 2022 Western States 100 with a win at that 12 months’s rugged and technical TDS.
In 2023, Pommeret returned to the Western States 100, however used to be much less glad along with his run that day, hanging twelfth. His season used to be some distance from over, on the other hand, as a call for participation to tempo eventual winner Aurélien Dunand-Pallaz within the 2023 Hardrock 100 ended in him extending his time stateside, at the side of his spouse and certainly one of their daughters.
He stated, “I prolonged my holiday, and we took time to discuss with the western a part of the U.S. We went to Monument Valley [on the Navajo Nation] and the Grand Canyon [in Arizona]. It used to be very cool.”
For Pommeret, the Hardrock 100 is a bucket record race — this used to be his 5th 12 months getting into the draw — so he relished the chance to enjoy the race via pacing. He stated: “It used to be just right to find the race in any other way. I paced the ultimate part of the race and Aurélien used to be in point of fact robust … It’s one thing other as there are just a few on the place to begin, so it’s in point of fact other to UTMB or Diagonale des Fous.”
Pommeret’s summer season of each operating and improving within the U.S. stood him in just right stead when it got here to the 2023 UTMB — the place he placed on a grasp elegance in endurance and consistency, preserving tempo all race, whilst the remainder of the sphere got here again to satisfy him, sooner or later completing 5th.
He recounted: “In the beginning I used to be no longer feeling that just right. The pacing used to be k as a result of I used to be within the anticipated timing, however I used to be in point of fact some distance again within the rating — round fiftieth. That used to be extra mentally tough, however my pacing used to be what used to be deliberate. I didn’t be expecting to succeed in 5th position. What I took from this race used to be that I may just stay the pacing constant from the start nearly to the tip. I feel it used to be essentially the most constant UTMB of my lifestyles — essentially the most Courtney [Dauwalter]-style pacing!”
He added that, “I feel the preparation for the Western States 100 helped me for UTMB this 12 months, as a result of there are some flat portions — there are some portions which can be in point of fact runnable, the place I may just run rapid.”
Even if his 2024 plans in large part hinge at the Hardrock 100 lottery, the 2024 UTMB does hang some importance for Pommeret, who famous: “Subsequent 12 months it’s my 20-year UTMB anniversary. I began in 2004, so it’s going to be two decades. Perhaps I will be able to pass once more, I don’t know. First, I’m looking ahead to the lottery for the Hardrock 100.”
After all, once I requested him if there’s a secret to his nice longevity, he candidly spoke back: “Sorry, no magical system. If I’ve one, I will be able to stay it for myself!” I feel we want to have any other off-the-record dialog with him to find the answer to that query.
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