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“Trail is evolving, sometimes too fast and not as well as I would like.”

Miguel Heras (Béjar, 1975) is a trail running legend for his extensive and successful career, with victories and outstanding results in renowned events, and for his humble and honest way of being. His signing with the Spanish sports brand JOMA has made many headlines in the specialized media and has given much to talk about in the trail running community during the last few days.

How many interviews have you had these last days after the announcement of your signing with JOMA?

I haven’t counted them, but for what is this trail running world, quite a few… But well, this doesn’t happen every day, so it’s normal that there is a little more hype.

How and when did you first decide to change brands and sign for JOMA?

It was quick. In the last month of December it happened by chance, so everything happened during the last part of the year.

Do you understand the “commotion” generated in the trail community by your departure from SALOMON, after 18 years?

Yes, yes, I can understand it because in the end there are many years, it is an important brand and I think it was understood that I was going to end my career there. I see this as an opportunity for me to improve, and you never know when it might come.

Is this a long-term project, then?

Yes, even though I am of a certain age, it is a long-term project, a project of a Spanish brand that wants to improve in one of its sports. JOMA plays many sports and is an important brand, but in trail running it wants to make a leap, it wants to improve, and I imagine that this has been the first strong step. The idea is to make a more powerful team and surely improve their products and materials, and that’s where my motivation comes in.

In this 2024 and with your new team, what are your main sporting objectives?

There are several, such as UTMB in the summer. I want to be in Chamonix, and if everything goes well I will focus on that, especially thinking about the long distance, the 100 miles. I will prepare myself to be there well and then as it comes.

What races will you start the season with?

At the beginning of the year I already have a tight schedule. In February, the Meridiano Marathon and Transgrancanaria. And then, Salomon Ultra Pirineu as every year, and we’ll see. I don’t like to make long term plans because I’ll see how my body goes, how everything goes, but I already have things in mind.

Seeing the evolution of trail running, with new brands like JOMA, what advice would you give to young promises who want to make a living as professionals in this sport?

We must not forget that it is a new sport compared to other sports, that is, it is evolving, sometimes I think too fast and not as well as I would like. But it is true that we are seeing that young people are starting to dedicate themselves to it, but it has taken 10-12 years of evolution. I recommend that they have patience, that we are still in the phase in which this sport has to improve in many aspects and that they, as young as they are, are part of this evolution.

Is there still work ahead?

Yes, they have to be calm. They will see things that don’t add up, and they will compete with people who can make a living from this sport and maybe they can’t. And they will compete with athletes who make a living from this sport. And they will race with athletes who live very well, because they are very well sponsored or because they work very well in social networks, and maybe they are not so good. There are many things to digest and there are many things to work on, so the first thing I would tell them is to have a lot of patience and try to do their best on a sporting level. The rest will come.

You started with orienteering races and then trail running. With your experience, what is for you the main change that this sport has made in two decades?

The professionalization of some runners or the most elite runners is a step. But maybe it’s a bit contradictory, because many times what I really like about this sport is that we can run with each other, people who have their work, people who have their day to day and people who are professional. That’s really one of the things I like about trail running, but I understand that those who are dedicated to it, those who may have a certain level, can give a certain show in the races. I understand that these people can make a living from this sport, that they can become more professional and improve their times, and that they can get stronger and stronger.

And at the federative level?

As you know, as far as circuits are concerned, we have a lot to do, it doesn’t depend so much on the runners, but a bit on the organization of the institutions, of all the federations and so on. There is a lot to agree on, so that there are not so many quarrels between federations and so on. But as I was saying, at a sporting level I think that the professionalization of the runners is the most important change I have seen in these two decades.

Where do you think trail running has to go?

I think the path is this one, the one that is being followed, but I think it has to be done well, because I would not like it to fall down. I understand that like all sports and like things in life, that it should be done step by step, that we should not mess up in certain things and that the circuits should be more and more logical. That there are not so many circuits and unfair competitions between federations, that everything goes in the right direction, towards professionalization, and that it is a recognized and clean sport.