Fresh from the Lavaredo – Eric Lechat & Oksana Riabova

The Trails, the Outdoors and Shared Passions, Connecting People – Eric Lechat and Oksana Riabova 

Interview by Maria E. Bellini

Oksana Riabova and Eric Lechat (only friends!) met thanks to the The North Face® Lavaredo Ultra Trail.
Eric, who lives in France had decided to drive to the race start in Cortina, Italy –and was offering a Carpool > “Marseilles to Cortina” Rideshare. Oksana booked that place.

They palled up and ended up sharing not only the drive, but also: hotel, meals, pre-race preparation and nerves (!), highs, lows and post race ‘joy’! “

I caught sight of them several minutes before the race start whilst I was covering the pre-race buzz. They were huddled together, quietly in silence –  seemingly enraptured by the whole atmosphere. I could almost feel their anticipation and awe…

Oksana and Eric about to start the Lavaredo....
Oksana and Eric about to start the Lavaredo….

. . . And this is their story . . . 

Eric Lechat - photo credit Eric Barnabé
Eric Lechat – photo credit Eric Barnabé

Oksana Riabova
Oksana Riabova
Name: Eric Lechat

Maria Bellini: How did you get into Trail Running?

I’ve got a background in road running. I achieved my first marathon in 2007 (3h40) and after flirting with my personal best (3h15), I decided to escape from the rigorous training. My first trail was the Night Trail Saintélyon in France in 2010. 68km in -10° C with snow. I loved it!! I kept on running long distances, maximum two competitions per year. I have a monopolizing job which makes it hard to prepare seriously for more.

When you were accepted to The North Face® Lavaredo Ultra Trail, did you start a specific training plan? 

I run regularly 3 times a week, but more as a  recreational activity. I don’t compete much. For the LUT, I participated in two races included in a specific training plan: the Trail des Calanques near Marseille in February (32k), and a 66-km trail in May. Both were fine, but two days after this last race, I sprained my ankle on May the 16th. Despite a very quick recovery program, including biking, physiotherapy, kinesitherapy and even witchcraft (!!!), I could not run one kilometer before the 10th of june… Of course, it was already too late to make up for lost time. Last training was a climb of Mont-Blanc the week-end before the LUT: I could reach 4400m straight from the valley with friends, but went back 400m before the summit.

What’s your best memory about running in the The North Face® Lavaredo Ultra Trail?

Giving up LUT after 66km and 10 hours of running! I was not able to achieve it and was still uncomfortable with my ankle so it was a relief to give up. I know it was a wise decision. The right one considering I’d interrupted my training. But I really enjoyed the start, and the path near the Tre Cime at the sunrise.

….And your darkest memory?

Giving up! I hate that!!!

What was the best and worst thing about sharing the Lavaredo Experience with Oksana?

I knew Oksana was a top-runner according to her previous results, and I really enjoyed observing her preparing for the race. She was very focused, determined. I like passionate people, and Oksana is just that. We had a great time together, very fluid. We spent almost two days stuck together, but she abandoned me at the start of the race. Too fast for me! As a gentleman, I waited for her at the finish line and ran the last 800 meters in the streets of Cortina with her. And I took care of her blisters after the race too, despite her stinky feet!

Img Credit - TDS - Eric at the TDS
Img Credit – TDS – Eric at the TDS

What advice would you give someone who’s going to run the The North Face® Lavaredo Ultra Trail?

  • Don’t start too fast, the real stuff starts after 80k! (I was told that, of course)

In a Trail race, put the following three things in order of importance…
being competitive, enjoying yourself, discovering new places through trail running 

  1. Being competitive
  2. Enjoying yourself
  3. Discovering new places through Trail Running

How do you feel the days following a trail race?
A) that goes well
and
B) that doesn’t go so well

Usually after a long (positive) trail, I feel appeased, in the zone! This is probably why I do it. I love the days after the race. BUT, when not finishing, I feel very frustrated… Which is good motivation for the next race !

What are you trail // road running plans for the future?

I’ll be back on the road, participating in the 100 kms de Millau in September. My pacer on the bike will be my 14-year old son Bastien, that’ll be an adventure for him! And once again in Millau for the Grande Course des Templiers in October, another “must-do” and challenging trail of 76k. Oksana will participate (and don’t tell her but I want to smoke her!). There is also a challenge with my training partner here in Marseille!

And life plans?!

I stopped making plans months ago…

Today I enjoy every single pleasant moment. Every person I meet! No plans, just pleasure.

Like a leaf in the wind!

What are 3 races that you’d absolutely LOVE to run?

No plans and no race I’d really LOVE to run, except one: The Western States Endurance Run starting from the Squaw Valley, in California!

But how can I get a bib!!???

I need to pray for that. Or maybe the organizer will read this interview and offer me the opportunity!

And finally – Why do you trail run?  

To feel alive, to feel appeased, to connect to people.

We need to remember how lucky we are to be in a shape and health that allows us to run like this.

Name: Oksana Riabova

Maria Bellini: How did you get into Trail Running?

I’ve been running since I was 5 years old. But only got into trail running 3 years ago. At that time I was working in China, and a friend sent me a link for a 28km trail run in HongKong.

It was incredibly tough, but the beauty and nature along the trails amazed me.
Since then I’ve only been doing trail running, except for several triathlons.

When you were accepted to The North Face® Lavaredo Ultra Trail, did you start a specific training plan?

Actually, I decided to run Lavaredo by accident. At the end of October 2016 I’d finished my first Ultra, The Cappadocia Ultra Trail 114km in Turkey. And on Facebook I saw that it was possible to try and register for The North Face Lavaredo Ultra Trail. I was so excited after the race in Turkey, so decided to try my luck. After being accepted, I put the LUT down as my main race for summer 2017. I made a training plan, and started training in  March. I used a block training system, with a hilly road half marathon in the end of April and 50 km trail run race in Malta in May. The training programme was spoiled a bit 2 weeks before race, as I caught a cold, but nevertheless I learnt a lot from it.

 

Img credit - The North Face Lavaredo Ultra Trail
Img credit – The North Face Lavaredo Ultra Trail

What’s your best memory about running in the The North Face® Lavaredo Ultra Trail?

Best memory? The stunning nature and people around. And of course, afterwards, the happiness that I’d made it…

….And your darkest memory?

Darkest one?!
The last steep downhill before the finish. However, throughout the race I had rough time with headaches and weakness at altitude over 2100m. But somehow I recovered. But the last downhill, when I was supposed to “fly to the finish”, my leg muscles and knees had other ideas and told me “enough”.

I was moving really slowly and was quite frustrated.

What was the best and worst thing about sharing the Lavaredo Experience with Eric?

Only great things regarding sharing the Lavaredo experience  with Eric! Sometimes you meet a person, talk for a while and feel that you’ve know each other for ages.

I had that feeling, and was incredibly happy to see him cheering me on the last 800m before the finish line!

What advice would you give someone who’s going to run the The North Face® Lavaredo Ultra Trail?

  • Train on rocky surfaces with stones
  • Get really comfortable with elevation and altitude throughout your training.

In a Trail race, put the following three things in order of importance…
being competitive, enjoying yourself, discovering new places through trail running

  1. Discovering new places through trail running
  2. Being competitive
  3. Enjoy yourself

How do you feel the days following a trail race?
A) that goes well
and
B) that doesn’t go so well

Well… after such races eating always goes well… but moving, especially down stairs is always rather complicated.

What are you trail // road running plans for the future?

Coming races for me short 24km Etna Trail in Sicily at the end of July, [Oksana went on to place 1st woman in the race and 18th overall]. On the 6th August, Word Mountain Championship Long Distance in Premana, and main race – CCC, at UTMB, the Grand Trail Des Templiers.

And life plans?!

For the moment I am on an E.V.S. European Voluntary Service program in Malta, volunteering for ERRC (Emergency Response and Rescue Corps) like first aider and lifeguard until march 2018.
After I’ll see where my legs will take me…

What are 3 races that you’d absolutely LOVE to run?

Oh, there are so many of them. I would love ro run all that are on the list in Ultra Trail World Tour. I am interested in trying multi-stage races, and do the Grand-slam of trail running.
But if I need to choose 3, it would be Tor de Geants®, UTMB® and M.D.S.

And finally – Why do you trail run?

Because I enjoy being in nature, to fight my inner demons during the race and be a winner for myself. To observe the human body because we really dont know what it is capable of.
You need to be humble in this sport.

It is not about winning, it is about how far you can go.

I like the quote that I read in an article about trail running:

“I like the happiness that comes after running hard. After you suffer you feel better.”

A very big thanks to Eric and Oksana <3 

Maria E. BelliniMaria Elisabetta Bellini is Italyontrail.com’s founder, born in the U.K, she came to running whilst living in Italy, where she still lives and trains. Never ceasing to marvel at what’s at the summit of a hill, or around the bend along the trail, she loves using trail running as a means to explore nature, contemplation and Italy.

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