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Andrea Huser, queen of ultra

First mountain biker, then triathlete, also skimountaineer... Andrea Huser is now an Ultra-trail runner.

Let's meet the swiss-lady who is the one to watch for "La diagonale des fous" in Reunion Island on october 19th and 20th.

Andrea Huser, queen of ultra


Compared to what you did previously (MTB European Championships, triathlon, skimo, etc.) you’ve increased your race distances over the years. What made you move on to a different sport?


I had had enough of multisport events, and at 40 I was ready to retire from the competition circuit. My swan song was the Swiss Alpine in Davos. It was good to put running shoes on again and get out into the mountains. I found out it earned you points for the UTMB and I went online to check out what kind of race that was, and suddenly I had  a new goal. I was lucky enough to get a starting place in the ballot, and so in 2014 I ran my first Eiger Ultra and UTMB. That's what got me into ultra trail events. Trail running is easier to prepare for; you simply put on your running shoes and you're off. When I was still doing triathlons and the occasional adventure race I had to train in swimming, biking, kayaking and running. Now I'm doing what I love best, which is running, along with mountain bike cross training and kayaking now and again.

 

Do you still bike and skimo these days? For training or pleasure?


I go mountain biking for fun and for cross training for my running. I used to do skimo as a sociable activity, and I have since got into it competitively too. It's good winter training: exciting and fun. I also go alpine skiing. I used to race as a kid and so I find downhill skiing pretty easy and I enjoy it.

 

 

Have you ever been offered a professional contract in any of your sports?


I used to be sponsored by a bike shop – Imboden Bike in Lauterbrunnen – which also paid for equipment and sometimes race registration fees. I also receive an annual grant from my local council.

 

You run some very long distances. What keeps you motivated to keep going for so long? The cookies at the finish line, the medal, the friends or family waiting for you..?

Completing the course and overcoming the distance, and the feeling of joy afterwards at having done it. Having a girlfriend there to encourage and support me is always very nice, and that keeps me motivated of course. I set myself short-term goals, looking forward to the next view, the next refreshment point, that sort of thing. Of course, the biggest motivation is reaching the finish and the feeling of happiness that gives you.

 

We’ve heard you have a job in addition to your running. What do you do?


I am a nurse, and I usually work 80% of the time. This summer I took some time off and didn't work from April to November. In November I start a new job in a rehabilitation clinic.

 


Don’t you have ambitions to go pro so you can quit your job and focus solely on running?


That's what I have been doing for the last few months, and the main reason was to enable me to travel and take up various invitations. I wanted to be able to enjoy it. I'll soon be 44 and don't know how much longer I'll be able to run ultra trails at this level.
Financially, it's virtually impossible to live off trail running; you need a good sponsor and you're more or less obliged to compete only in events with prize money.

 

If you were to keep going as you are (from middle-distance MTB races to long-distance triathlons and on to ultra-long ultra trails), what would be your next sport?


Rollator racing ;-).
I'd love to do multi-day kayak touring, if I ever retire from competition. And I'll never stop running in the mountains as long as I live. I'd also like to do more high-altitude touring and ski touring, simply for pleasure and not as performance sports. But as long as I can keep going, I will…

 

Have you had any injury problems? If so, how did you deal with them? A sportswoman like you might find it hard to be forced into retirement…


No, nothing really serious. I broke a vertebra and my collarbone when I was mountain biking competitively. So I just did a lot of running. Since I took up multisports and trail running I've often had various muscle and eyesight problems, but which runner doesn't? It's never been so bad that I've been unable to do anything at all. When I can't run I mountain bike or ski.


This year at the UTMB you made quite an impression, coming in only 155 seconds behind the winner… Every year you close the gap a bit more. Have you set yourself the goal of winning the UTMB, or do you just race it and see what happens?


Well, logically that would be the next step ;-). I knew I'd have no chance of winning as long as Caroline Chaverot or Nuria Picas were at the start line. I started anyway, so the answer is: "race it and see what happens". That's what I did last year too. The way it goes, a lot can happen on a long race like the UTMB. Of course, I set myself the goal of making the podium, but by mid-season I was not convinced I could do it. Now I feel like I did last year, as if I'd won it!

 

Andrea Huser Julbo UTMB

Andrea Huser à l'arrivée de l'UMTB 2017. Photo de Christophe Boillon


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