Interview with Sébastien Chaigneau


Sébastien Chaigneau needs no introduction and is famous among those who love trailrunning. He’s one of the pioneers of this kind of sports and one of those who developed it and made it popular. This year, Sébastien Chaigneau is going to participate in the adidas Elbrus World Race ultra trail, and it will be a unique opportunity for Russian runners to see Sébastien and talk to him in the course of the event. More information about Sébastien Chaigneau is available in the corresponding article: «Sébastien Chaigneau».

Trail-Run magazine contacted Sébastien and interviewed him ahead of his visit to Russia to share it with the magazine readers and participants of adidas Elbrus World Race.

Trail-Run: Thank you very much, Sébastien, for having found time to answer our questions. It’s the first time you’re going to Russia, isn’t it? Why did you choose adidas Elbrus World Race among dozens of other competitions?

Sébastien Chaigneau: It’s very easy: I do not have many offers to run trails in Russia and visit the slopes of Elbrus, so I think it’s important for me, because I love mountains. I think I will enjoy being there and I must admit that it’s a country that has been appealing to me for a long time. Besides, I have PETZL, one of the race sponsors and my sponsor too, so I have someone to accompany me and speak English, and it also makes the journey easier.

Trail-Run: I know that you want to ascend Elbrus. Does Elbrus appeal to you?

Sébastien Chaigneau: Yes, sure, it’s the highest peak in Europe, and I’d like to ascend it one week before the race, yet the conditions in the mountains can be harsh, so I prefer not to plan ahead. If there is such an opportunity, I’ll do it.

Trail-Run: Do you know anything about trail running in Russia? Perhaps, some Russian athletes?

Sébastien Chaigneau: I don’t know much about trailrunning in Russia, and it’s interesting to be able to meet these trail runners and talk to them.

Trail-Run: You are a trailrunning legend (and it’s not flattery). Do you feel like a legend?

Sébastien Chaigneau: No, I don’t feel I’m a legend; I always keep in my mind that legends are the people who have already died, but if I keep on hearing such things I’ll end up feeling so… I think I’m here to promote and develop this kind of sports, and I try to do my best to help other runners avoid the mistakes that I made in the past. It’s a long way because people are changing fast, and nowadays many runners are consumers of trails, not trail runners…

Trail-Run: What does it mean?

Sébastien Chaigneau: As I have already said, I feel ambivalent about this issue. Nowadays there are two kinds of runners: runners who do their best to prepare for trails and decide what races they’re going to participate in at the beginning of each year (I call them trail runners), and the other kind is those who seek fame and praise (including popularity in social networks), who apply for participation without proper preparation; let’s call them consumers. These pose a risk not only for themselves, but for the organizing team and other race participants. They are very easy to recognize: they’re the first to fall out of the race and say unpleasant things about the organizers. For example, they can say they had had to wait whooping 20 minutes before the rescue team came to them.

Trail-Run: You participated in the first UTMB race. When you were doing it 15 years ago, did you think that the trail would become legendary?

Sébastien Chaigneau: Yes, undoubtedly, because the trail itself and, of course, the fact that the trail features Mont Blanc were the ingredients of this competition. Also, the organizing team managed to establish the event in a very professional way so the race was able to become what it has become.

Trail-Run: Are you going to participate in UTMB this year? Or, perhaps, you will come to Chamonix to celebrate the anniversary?

Sébastien Chaigneau: This year I’m going to join other runners at the starting line to run the race and enjoy this great event. I do not participate to compete any more, because the level of runners has increased significantly, but I still try to persuade myself that I have yet to show what I can do in this race.

Trail-Run: You have applied for an ITRA Committee position as a representative of athletes. In your opinion, what future awaits us with ITRA?

Sébastien Chaigneau: I don’t know much about it, because this system is still being developed. I participate in the Quartz program which deals with the medical aspect and doping, but I think that my experience can serve this association and help them hear the voice of athletes and develop this field more and more, step by step… 

Trail-Run: Where will we have the pleasure of seeing you again this year?

Sébastien Chaigneau: I have not planned to participate in many races; in two weeks, I’m going to run the Lavaredo Ultra Trail, then the Pierra Menta will follow, then I’m going to visit Russia, and finally there’s UTMB. I don’t have any plans for the end of the season, because I think it can be the time to recover and prepare for the next season. Besides, I like winter, because it means snow, skiing and playing with children at home, which is very important to me.

Trail-Run: And the last question: what advice would you give to runners who go in for ultra trails?

Sébastien Chaigneau: Let your body get accustomed to work, do not plan too many races to participate in during the season even if you feel that you are ready for them, and even if you don’t experience any issues in the course of them. You need to say to yourself that the races will always be there, and you’ll be able to participate in them in the future, sooner or later. If you choose to do all at once, your body and mind will not last long and will eventually give out.  

The ADIDAS ELBRUS WORLD RACE competitions are annually held in the first week of August and include 5 races: Elbrus Mountain Race, Elbrus Mountain Ultra, Elbrus Mountain Marathon, Elbrus Trail, Elbrus11.


 The general partner: adidas Outdoor

The competition organizer: Alpindustria company

The competitions are held under the auspices of the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic Ministry of Sports, the regional Emergencies Ministry department, and the local authorities.  

Official website of the Race: ADIDAS ELBRUS WORLD RACE

The official Youtube channel  

The official Facebook page

The official Vkontakte page

The official Instagram page

The author of the article: Vladimir Bogatyrev. Photos are provided by the participant.