Anna Noguera was one of the protagonists of the 2019 edition with her victory in the Duathlon de l’Alpe d’Huez and a third place three days later in the Triathlon M. In love with the Alpe d’Huez, the Spanish triathlete shines as much for her overflowing joyfulness as for her performance level which continues to increase. It was time you met this pocket-sized climber (and a great runner). This interview might makes you want to taste the joys of the Alpe d’Huez Duathlon or the M Triathlon, whose registrations are about to close! (Photos: Thierry Sourbier)
How are you doing? How’s the winter going?
I’m trying to get through this period in the best possible way. But I prefer summer and good weather!
In 2019, you had one of your best seasons by demonstrating your regularity on the 70.3 distance and winning bronze at the ITU Long Distance Worlds. Will 2020 be the year of your baptism on the Queen Distance?
I hope so! The Ironman will be a whole new distance for me. I want to run without pressure to get familiar with this effort. I don’t know what to expect on such a demanding distance and I have a lot of respect for this format. Although I have already run a lot on Half distance races, I will be a beginner on Ironman.
How many times did you participated in the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon?
I participated four times in the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon. I ran the Triathlon M two years, 1 year the Triathlon L and last year I did the Duathlon and the Triathlon M. The Alpe d’Huez Triathlon is something special. I liked it from the very first time despite its difficulty. I think it’s because of the atmosphere that is created during several days around the race, the variety of the events, the welcome of the participants, the environment. Whatever the race, if it goes very well or not so well, I always come home with good memories.
Do you work specifically on this type of races?
Yes, every year I have prepared the race in a specific way, but sometimes I dedicate more time and resources to it than others. My preparation was often the same as for Olympic distance or similar events, but doing more training on mountainous terrain, short series and longer ones. For the L Triathlon, on the other hand, I followed a more precise plan by increasing the kilometres and working the climb on the bike. Moreover, I looked for a place where I could train running at the same altitude as Alpe d’Huez (about 1800m) to get used to the feeling of ‘lack of air’ and to be able to adapt the rhythm and the way I run.
So in 2017, you tried the Triathlon L, with a 5th final place. What do you remember about it?
To be honest, it was very, very hard. But it was also incredible. I love the setting of the race, and the Triathlon L is even more authentic than the M. However, you have to prepare it well, not only in terms of training but also in terms of nutrition. I think that’s what I could improve the most if I participated again. You have to know yourself well, know how to measure your effort and be patient. Patience is exactly what I need! Seriously, I think that you have to know how to wait, be conservative and reserve yourself for a lot of kilometers without being tempted, to arrive in the final with enough strength. I have not yet succeeded!
“Know how to measure your effort and be patient” – Anna Noguera
Let’s talk about the Alpe d’Huez Duathlon, which you won in 2019, before reaching the third step of the podium in the M Triathlon three days later… It’s not the most popular race of the event. However, the Duathlon is the one that grows the most. How would you describe this challenge?
It was my first time in the Alpe d’Huez Duathlon. I suffered a lot but it was worth it! I think this duathlon retains all the attractions of the Alpe d’Huez that I mentioned earlier. It’s a good option if you don’t like the water, if you don’t dominate the swimming area, or if you just don’t want to swim. Besides, it even seemed harder than the Triathlon M to me, because the first run is very challenging! Although it takes place at the bottom of the climb, the track is quite steep and the temperatures are high… the perfect mix to reach the T1 already at the limit. But there is almost no recovery time as the ascent starts right away on the bike. The legs and the rhythm have to adapt immediately. As you climb, the temperature drops and the body adjusts as you discover the bends one by one. When you reach the top… It’s an incredible feeling, between the cheers of the audience, the voice of Vicky (speaker) who comments your arrival to T2, the green of the trees on the slopes of the huge surrounding mountains and the mountain chalets. Even if you’re in pain, you probably smile. For the second run, you simply do the best you can. It’s only a 2500-metre circuit (in 2020, the second run will be 5.5km) and with the public and the desire to cross the line, it goes fast.
You have a lot of experience in Alpe d’Huez. What advice would you give to an amateur triathlete who is taking on this challenge for the first time?
You have to train to climb, doing specific training in the mountains. Even if you don’t have a long mountain pass nearby, you can still do repetitions on a hill. You have to take care of your nutrition with gels, bars, isotonic, salts or whatever is best for you. In any case you must eat well and have tried the products previously during training. On the days before the race, I advise you to relax and enjoy every moment in Alpe d’Huez, the people, the atmosphere, the scenery. Finally, the day of the race: be patient! You have to keep and keep your strength, even if you have great sensations. At the top of Alpe d’Huez, these saved forces will be welcome. There is still time to give it all, right up to the last metre of the run.
What is Anna Noguera’s programme for 2020? What will be your training conditions?
This season I will continue as a professional triathlete thanks to my team PPR TEAM, EKOI and HOKA ONE ONE. I also receive help from my coach Ignasi de La Rosa, my family and many other people and brands that collaborate with me and support me on a daily basis. I love this sport and the lifestyle I have chosen. In 2019, I’m thinking of dividing the season into two blocks. From April to July I would like to participate in my first Ironman, in addition to other events such as the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon. From August to November the main objective will be the 70.3 World Championship in Taupo (New Zealand), for which I obtained my qualification last year. In the middle of the season I want to take a break to recuperate a bit in order to initiate a mini pre-season and another training block. Without this physical and mental restart it’s difficult to extend the season and I want to be sure I’m 100% motivated and in top shape for the World Championship.
What do you still have to learn and do you think you can still improve?
I don’t think there is anything I have completely learned yet! I hope I still have a good margin for progress. In any case, I still have the same enthusiasm as when I started, and I’d like to continue like that for a long time to come.
28 years old – Spain
Club: PPR TEAM
Residence: Igualada (Barcelona)
10 years of Triathlon practice
5 participations to Alpe d’Huez Triathlon
3 key results: Bronze ITU LD 2019 World Championship, 2nd Ironman 70.3 Cascais (POR), 4th Ironman 70.3 Vichy (FRA)
www.annanoguera.es (under construction)