Conversation with Ludovic Pommeret – iRunFar
if Ludovic Pommeret Draws the starting line for 2024 UTMPHe will do so on the 20th anniversary of his first attempt in the esteemed race. He ranked fifth in the last 2023 edition.
There are not many athletes in the sport or anyone who can boast the longevity of the Frenchman who, at 48 years old, is still competing at the highest level. We caught up with him to see if we could glean any insights into the matter, and to hear some of the story of his illustrious career in the mountains.
Pommeret was born in Grenoble, France, where he lived for five years until his parents moved to the mountains. The family moved again before eventually settling in Valloire, a ski resort in the Savoie region, where Pommeret lived from the age of 10 until he returned to Grenoble to attend university.
It was at Valloire that he took up mountain sports. “I wasn’t into hiking, I was more into skiing and snowboarding,” he said. “I was also doing some windsurfing on the lakes. But I didn’t really run until I was at least 25.”
Pomeret’s introduction to mountain running didn’t come from any formal training or training philosophy, but it started as a fun challenge with the family. “My brothers — my wife has two brothers — were runners and were doing a race in 2000,” he said. “There was a lot of climbing. They pushed me to do this race.”
Pommeret surprised himself and others with his natural ability, and said cheerfully: “Since I was not running, they expected to beat me, but that was not the case!”
Later that same year, he set his sights on an even bigger challenge – a local 107km ultramarathon starting in Valloire. But he didn’t finish: “For the first race, it was too much,” he said.
Instead of starting with shorter races and building gradually, Pommeret was drawn to the challenge of finishing a very long distance. He continued to train and build up his miles, with the goal of one day finishing his local race, but the race was canceled before he had another chance to run it.
“Then I tried another race in 2004, it was called UTMB, do you know that race?” He asked sarcastically. Here Pommeret suffered another DNF, having yet to crack the code on how to train for long races, and with little running experience.
Eventually, it called for a change in strategy: “Then I started running shorter distances in training, and I started getting good results.”
Among the highly competitive short races he completed was 2007 Sir Zainalwhere it reached the top twenty, and in 2008 Knights TemplarWhere he ranked fourth.
Although still self-trained and training somewhat haphazardly, Pomeret has been accumulating experience and miles in the legs and has continued to go from strength to strength. Also in 2009, he covered the 100 km in an impressive manner, and finished third in the race CCC.
“It wasn’t really training, I loved going to the mountains to run and I used to race a lot,” he said. I raced about every two weeks in the summer, and I also did mountain climbing in the winter.
To this day, Pomeret divides himself between two fields: running in the summer and skiing in the winter. He attributes this balance in part to his longevity, saying: “I think (Skimo) is kind of cross-training during the winter. It is still a demanding activity and is good training. It gives you more strength, but has less impact and is better for your joints. It helps you recover a little during the winter from the little injuries you pick up in the summer.
The turning point for Pommeret was when he was selected to run for France in 2015 Track World ChampionshipsWhich was held in Annecy, France. He was determined to do his best to have the opportunity to represent his country, and said: “That was when I started working with the coach. I wanted to have more organized preparations for the World Championships.”
Pommeret finished fifth, and a run with Team France at the World Championships became a staple on his calendar for many years to come, with two fifth-place finishes in 2016 and 2018 being the highest points.
His improved training structure also led him to victory at the 2016 UTMB – a race that had previously just eluded him. “I think I did UTMB seven times but only finished four times,” he said. The 2016 race is the best memory. Especially since I was a little sick at the beginning of the race, and I did not imagine that I could win.”
Another event that brings back Pommeret over and over again is A drop of fools On Reunion Island. He finished second in the 100 miler in 2009, 2014 and 2019, before tying for the win. Danny Young In 2021.
In 2023, he returns, but for a different purpose. He said: This year I went there with my wife. We were running together, and we wanted to finish together. We tried last year (and didn’t finish) and this year, on the second try, we finished. It was her first 100-miler.
Pommeret spoke about the unique culture and atmosphere around Diagonale des Fous that constantly attracts him. He said: “Everyone on the island knows about this race and everyone dreams of completing it one day… and discovering the island through the race, it is truly special.”
Throughout his running career, and alongside his family life, Pomeret has continued to work as a computer science engineer, and currently works in air traffic control in Geneva, Switzerland. When I asked him if he found it difficult to find time to train alongside other responsibilities, he said: “It was in the past, because I was working full-time until last year, and in Switzerland that was 41 hours a week. But last year I was working 100%.” 60% of that, so that’s much more comfortable.
He continued: “When you work full time and train, it is difficult to spend time with the family and there are compromises. Now my daughters are older, they are 19 and 22, so they need less time.
Currently, Pommeret divides his time between his mid-week home, near Geneva, and the family’s second home in the mountains near Valloire. He organizes his training around this: “During the week I work, I train more on flat tracks, and on the weekends more on the mountains,” he said.
Having already raced extensively across Europe, in 2021 Pommeret was bitten for the first time by Western countries 100 Error – When he traveled to the famous American Ultra team to keep up with his French teammate, Audrey Tanguy. The following year, he came back with the golden ticket and finished sixth in his debut Western States 100.
Normally at home in the mountains, hot, fast downhill racing was a step outside of Pommeret’s comfort zone. “You have to be prepared to run 90% of the race,” he said. “Even at UTMB, you can walk. At Diagonale des Fous, you can run less, but Western States 100 different. You also have to deal with the heat, because it’s usually very warm, but the hardest part for me is running all the time.
Pomeret then showed his versatility by following up a sixth-place finish in the 2022 Western States 100 with a win in that year’s difficult and technical championship. Dissolved solids.
In 2023, Pommeret returned to the Western States 100, but was not satisfied with his run that day, as he finished 12th. However, his season is not over yet, as an invitation to accelerate the pace of the eventual winner Aurelien Dunand Balazs In 2023 Hard Rock 100 It led him to extend his time in the United States with his wife and one of their daughters.
“I extended my vacation,” he said, “and we took some time to visit the western part of the United States. We went to Monument Valley (in the Navajo Nation) and the Grand Canyon (in Arizona). It was very cold.”
For Pomeret, the Hardrock 100 is a bucket-list race – this was his fifth year in drag – so he relished the opportunity to experience racing through speed. “It was nice to discover racing in another way,” he said. “I accelerated in the last half of the race and Aurelian was really strong… It’s something different because there are only a few on the start line, so it’s really different from UTMB or Diagonale des Fous.”
Pommeret’s summer running and recovering in the US stood him in good stead when it came to the 2023 UTMB race – as he provided a master class in patience and consistency, maintaining pace all race while the rest of the field came back to meet him, eventually finishing fifth.
He recounted: “At first I didn’t feel good. The pace was good because I was on the expected timing, but I was actually quite behind in the classification – around 50th. It was more difficult mentally, but my pace was as planned. I didn’t expect to get to fifth place. What I learned from this race is that I can maintain a consistent pace from almost start to finish. I think it’s been the most consistent UTMB in my life – the most Courtney (Dawalter)Pace style!
“I think preparing for the Western States 100 helped me at UTMB this year, because there are some flat parts – there are some really runnable parts, where I can run fast,” he added.
Although his plans for 2024 hinge largely on the Hardrock 100 lottery, the 2024 UTMB holds some significance for Pomeret, who noted: “Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the UTMB. I started in 2004, so it will be “20 years. Maybe I’ll go again, I don’t know. First, I’m waiting for the Hardrock 100 draw.”
Finally, when I asked him if there was a secret behind his great longevity, he answered frankly: “Sorry, there is no magic formula. If I had one, I would keep it for myself!” I think we need to have another informal conversation with him to uncover the answer to this question.
Call for comments
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