Trail Runner Interview: Fred Verdier

Fred on a recce run for EcoTrail Wicklow in 2019

Some 30 years later, I rediscovered through Trail Running similar feelings I used to have as a teenager

Fred Verdier is originally from the South of France. Fred runs the Tourism Board in Wicklow.  He is also the initial driver behind Ecotrail Wicklow.

Tell us how you got into Trail Running?

In 2014, three Italians from a Trail Running Magazine (Soul Running) came to Ireland and asked me to help them run the Wicklow Way.  I initially thought they were mad, but I sent them for three days from Tinahely all the way to Marlay Park in Dublin (50k day one, 25k days two and three).  

A year later, I got a call from them, inviting me for a press trip to Mattinata (Puglia, Southern Italy) to help them promote a new Trail Running Event (Gargano Running Week).  I enjoyed four days in the sun, by the sea, running (walking…) up and down scenic trails in the mornings, sightseeing in the afternoons, and eating fantastic Italian food:  I struggled a lot, but loved every minute of it.  

I grew up near the Pyrenees in the South of France, and we hiked a lot with the family.  As a kid, I could ‘read’ a trail, and could run down the mountains.  Some 30 years later, I rediscovered through Trail Running some sensations I had as a teenager. 

How often do you go trail running? Are you following a specific training plan?

I try to go trail running at least once a week.  I do distances from 7 to 12 km with the optional longer run up to 18k. I am not fast, and happy to combine walking and running.  I do a bit of yoga and core exercises most days and try to have a swim or cycle when I can.

Fred up the Mourne Mountains

Where is/are your favourite trail running playground(s)?

I live in Dun Laoghaire so the Dublin Mountains are where I run most of the time.  Fairy Castle offers fantastic views over Dublin, decent climbs and some technical sections .  Because of work, I have a good knowledge of the Wicklow Trails, and when possible, squeeze a run around Djouce, Glendalough or anywhere around this great County!  Ireland has tremendous trails that are accessible year-round making it a fantastic trail running destination.

What is/are your favourite trail running race(s) in Ireland and/or abroad.  Any trail running achievement you’re particularly proud of?

Personally, I am not into races and I’m happy to run on my own, discovering new trails.  I love planning new routes on the computer, then running them.  There are two events that really had an impact on me, even though I haven’t run either.  Ecotrail Wicklow and UTMB!  

In August 2019, EcoTrail International invited us to showcase Wicklow in Chamonix during the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB) week.  50,000 trail running enthusiasts from all over the world take over the whole town in a valley surrounded by mountains more than 3000 meters above you!  A month later, I spent from 5.30am to 11pm at the finish line of EcoTrail Wicklow on Bray Seafront and loved every minute of it!  More than a thousand runners from 32 different nationalities, men, women, young, old and all loving it!  The buzz was amazing!  This was probably my proudest trail running moment, having worked so hard to bring that event to Wicklow and Ireland, and watching it unfold throughout the day… 

Can you share any trail running personal advice/tips/story?

I was never a runner and have never liked road running.   I took up trail running in my mid-forties and started very slow, happy to walk (fast) going up, and running on flat or downhill…  I might not be going much faster now, but I have built a bit more strength in my legs, so I don’t struggle as much now as I did at the beginning.  I am in better shape than I’ve ever been in my life.  Trail running is also a fantastic way to clear the head as you constantly focus on the next two or three steps!  I cannot remember a bad run:  even if I don’t feel my best, there is tremendous pleasure being surrounded by nature and great scenery.  

Oh, and don’t be afraid to use sticks when going up…  I loooove sticks!!!

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