After a hiatus from interviews I’m happy to be finally posting again! Whilst on my recent trip to Chile I connected with Matias Bull – entrepreneur, trail runner and founder of the website TrailChile. On my last day in Santiago Matias kindly offered to drive us out of the city to an area perfect for trail running – in the foot hills of the Andes. The day was sunny and bright, a recent storm having cleared the air. We ran through shrubby woodland, chatting when the slope allowed enough air to converse, and completed an ‘out-and-back’ loop that gave us incredible views of the snow capped landscape surrounding Santiago. Matias is a fun, bright and knowledgeable individual. The following interview is a great insight to trail running from someone who made the switch from the road – and if you’re interested in multi-day trail running events, such as the Atacama Crossing – then Matias is the person to talk to!
Interview #6 with Matias Bull from Trail Chile
LRY: How did you become a trail runner and what inspired you to start running in the first place?
MB: I used to do a lot of mountain biking, horse riding and other sports where I lived when I was a kid. Then I moved to Santiago and stopped doing exercise as often. But I started running – inspired by my dad who started to run for weight-loss. One day at the University, a friend told me he was building a running group and one year later my dad and I went to a 10K training session with them. Ever since then I have been running on trails. That was 5 years ago but that didn’t make me a trail runner until I ran my first mountain marathon.
LRY: What have been you favourite trail races so far and why?
MB: In Chile, the Atacama Crossing. It’s not a trail race but it is one that I want to do again. The Atacama Crossing is a 250km stage race in the Atacama Desert. It’s a really flat race – all “runable” trails with awesome views of Licancabur Volcano, dunes, salt flats, the Valley of the Moon and more. The great thing is that you have time to talk with runners from around the world and make new friends. Outside of Chile, the Patagonia Run in Argentina. It’s challenging, very well organized, with quality aid stations and great views. If you like ultras, this is one you need to do.
LRY: How did you cope with moving up from marathon to ultra distances?
MB: I haven’t done any road marathons, I jumped from 21K road races to 10K trail races and then never came back to road races. After the 10K races, I started doing orienteering races and those were the first mountain races that I did. After that I jumped to 21K, and then to a mountain marathon. I think the most important thing is to be patient, to build up your body and mind to be able to run for as long as you want, and enjoy the sport before trying to be competitive.
LRY: What are a few highs and lows of your running career so far?
MB: Without doubt I can definitely say that one high and low moment occurred in the Atacama Crossing, and that is why I want to return to run it again. I started the race with a 10kg backpack, instead of doing it with a 6-7kg like you need to do it. On stage 3 I twisted my ankle several times, then because of the weight of my backpack I started having troubles with my IT band in one of my knees. After that I wasn’t able to run, so I started walking 10 footsteps and then running 10 footsteps for the whole race. On stage 5, the longest run, I did the first 30K in 3h30m but after that, I couldn’t run anymore so I just walked. It was a really good race, but being injured is not want you want in these races, so you need to change your plan to just finish.
LRY: What are your favourite things to eat & drink when on a long trail run?
MB: If I am training for a race, I will try to eat gels, and chews, and only drink water. If I am doing a long run with friends I will add some real food like potatoes with salt, ham and fruit.
LRY: Do you have any trail running specific tips or advice?
MB: Be patient, work on your strength to avoid injures. If you can’t run an uphill, walk fast. Be responsible and always tell someone where you are going.
LRY: What would you say to someone who was thinking about going for a trail run for the first time?
MB: First, don’t worry about times and pace, especially if you come from road running. Don’t buy special shoes and clothes, start with what you have. Almost every trail is ‘runable’ with road shoes even if it has mud and rocks. And always go with a group or someone who is familiar with the trails.
LRY: What does the second half of 2014 have lined up for you?
MB: Uff, the second half is interesting. I will be travelling to Europe to go for a few runs and have a vacation. In August I will be running the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc and then I will travel to Spain to run with some friends from the 2012 Atacama Crossing. After that I want to go to England to experience a real fell race, because for me is where this sport began. On return to Chile I plan to run Vulcano Ultra Trail 80K (50M) in December.
LRY: What can we expect to see from the website ‘TrailChile’ in the future?
MB: Well, TrailChile is going to be more focused on the trail running scene around the world with a special focus on South America. I want to show that Chile is one of the best countries to run; we have deserts, valleys, mountains, volcanoes and snow from the Pacific to the Andes. So I really want to promote this country as a special place to run.
LRY: Finally – a few fun questions for you!
LRY: Tea or coffee, or maybe maté? MB: Tea, but can I choose hot chocolate?
LRY: Apples or oranges? MB: Apples.
LRY: Mountains or Oceans? MB: Mountains.
LRY: Juices or smoothies? MB: Smoothies.
LRY: Track, road or trails (maybe that is a silly question)? MB: hahaha! Trails.
LRY: Compression gear, or none? MB: Compression gear for the hard days.
Thanks Matias! Great to hear about your transition from road to trail running and your advice for new trail runners – especially the part about remembering to tell people where you are going! Good luck at UTMB and can’t wait to see what TrailChile does next!
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