Back to back Otter record runs for Marc Lauenstein
07 November 2016
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Brad Brown: Welcome back to yet another edition of Old Mutual Live. It’s great to have you with us, thank you so much for downloading and listening to this podcast. What a great pleasure to welcome our next guest onto the show. In 2015 absolutely smashed the Otter Trail Run record.
He’s gone and won it back to back in 2016 and just shown everyone what is possible on that route. Another record on RETTO as well. So it’s a great pleasure to welcome onto the podcast all the way in Switzerland, he’s back home already, Mark Lauenstein. Mark, welcome, thanks for joining us today.
Marc Lauenstein: Hi, it’s nice to be here.
BB: Mark, congratulations on the win first of all. You must be pretty happy with that, a great run and a great day out.
ML: Yes, absolutely. It lived really up to my expectations. After running the Otter last year, I was looking forward to be back and to run the race on the other side. But as a race it’s just fantastic. Yes, I would say everything went really well. I guess the conditions were just perfect, it was dry weather but not too hot. Even so I think my shape was quite the same as last year. It allowed me to run quite a bit faster.
Were the records always on the agenda?
BB: Mark, I mean the times are just absolutely incredible. I know before last year’s race people were talking about will anyone ever go under four hours and your performances have been phenomenal over the last two years. I think it’s really set the bar, particularly here in South Africa, of what is actually possible. Did you come here chasing the record or did you come: I wanted to win and if the record’s on the cards, then I’ll go for it?
ML: Well, last year definitely I tried to try the four-hour record. I had the feeling that it would be possible and anyway, I like challenges. So I thought: Let’s give it a shot, and I gave really everything. Throughout the course I noticed it’s going to be super tight and until the last second I had to sprint. It was a really close haul last year and that year I did start more relaxed.
I thought: Well, I give it a shot but it wasn’t any more such a big emphasis for me to try to break the record because I knew it’s possible. I also wanted to enjoy the course and not push all the way too hard. But I guess the conditions were great, my shape was good. Sometimes when you don’t try too hard it’s when you run the best and that’s why I guess this year was a exceptional race for me.
BB: Mark, let’s talk about the Otter as a race. You’ve raced all over the world and you’ve probably got to see some incredible trial runs, where would you rate the Otter in as far as the races you’ve done?
How Otter is incredibly unique
ML: The Otter is absolutely unique; it’s a trail race with lots of climb. I think my GPS watch, which is quite accurate told me that 2 500m of elevation gain so that’s like one of the top notch alpine trail runs but with the big difference that you never really go as high.
It makes it much more exciting because you’re always going up and down and there are twists and turns and it makes your race very, it goes by quite easily in comparison to alpine mountain races. Whereas you do all the climb at once, so maybe on two hills. Then you have to go all the way down again.
Along the coast, as I said before, it goes up and down and turns all the way, always but also the views are changing always. Once you’re in the canopies and you’re on the beach, on pebbles, on sand, jumping from rocks to rocks and sometimes you’re on top and have the incredible views above the sea. It makes it really special and I really recommend to any European runner to do it once.
BB: Yes, it’s definitely one of those, even if you’re not coming out to win it, just to experience it. It’s a magnificent part of South Africa, it’s extremely beautiful. It’s not often that you get to experience something like that in one day and like you say, the variety, it’s so different at stages.
ML: Yes, it’s really that. It’s so beautiful and you don’t get bored on this course. When you’re out there for four hours and plus and every five minutes you see something different. It’s just such a pleasure to be out there and to enjoy nature on this raw level. Yes, it’s amazing and I’m really looking forward to come back and to experience this and not even to do the race but just to hike on this trail, it’s fantastic.
BB: Yes, Mark and I wanted to ask that. You’re now the record holder for both directions, are we going to see you back to race it again? I know it’s a long way to come to South Africa to run a race like that. But is it in your blood now, are you going to keep coming back?
ML: Yes, that’s for sure, I will be back. It’s without a question and I hope even more than once. Because of the race but also the landscape and especially also the people I met. I want to keep in touch and it’s as you said, it’s now a little bit of my DNA, I guess. But is a long travel and my life is quite busy so unfortunately I can’t do it also. I’m not sure when will be the next time but the latest in about three to five years. I hope it will be sooner but I will have to make plans for that.
How do South African trail runners rate?
BB: Mark, looking at the level of trail running in South Africa and particularly the competitors, the guys that you raced against. I think particularly of someone like Kane Reilly who finished second to you both years, he’s improved a lot. He’s obviously still not as experienced as you are. The quality of trail running here in South Africa, have you been impressed by it?
ML: Yes, I think that the level is quite good and I always questioned that even more guys are able to run really well. Those really tough courses and I would be interested to see on a short trail, I can imagine that Kane would already beat me now. It’s just a matter of time when he will be a really top notch international trail runner. He is already now and he will just have to follow his course. I’m sure he will be up there.
In general, the level is excellent and I think most important, it’s not just the level but the spirit of South African trail running is really great. I think you can be very proud of the scene and make a lot of people jealous because it’s like a big family. Everybody respects itself and everybody just enjoys trail running and it’s all about that. There’s no jealousy and you just feel at home with those people and that’s something to look forward for.
BB: Mark, as far as the trail running scene in Switzerland, obviously here in South Africa we are so blessed because it doesn’t matter where you are in the country there are some great trails around. But if someone listening to this here in South Africa is thinking of possibly going to run a European race or possibly in Switzerland. What are some of the must run races that you’ve done that you think people should do in Europe?
ML: I guess there’s a couple. But big races would be, I think, most prestigious one is Sierre-Zinal, here in Switzerland. Then on marathon length it would be the Marathon du Mont Blanc which is another top shot race and in middle Europe I would say those are the two big races. Then of course you have all the ultras but that’s something different which I personally don’t compete in. So I can’t give any advice on that but I guess those two races are, like I said, the classic ones in middle Europe.
BB: Fantastic and then Mark, what’s next on the cards for you now, what are you working toward, what’s the long to medium term goals?
ML: Well, here it’s starting to be winter actually, the leaves are falling, it’s starting to freeze. I’m looking forward for the first snow to go skiing.
BB: Does skiing play a big part in your sort of cross training in the off season, so to speak?
ML: Yes, absolutely. Actually I don’t race anymore, at least trail running or running from now until March. I do cross country ski a lot and I do some cross country ski races. But just for fun. It puts some diversity in my sport and it’s something I really enjoy and I try to do as much as possible.
BB: Well Mark, thank you so much for your time here on Old Mutual Live today, much appreciated. Congratulations once again on the win and the records. We look forward to welcoming you back in South Africa and hopefully sooner rather than later.
ML: Thank you very much; I’m looking forward for that. Bye-bye.