After several years on the cross-country circuit, Janina Wüst decided to change her discipline to focus on the marathon. And the least we can say is that this change was successful. A few months after her debut in the discipline, she won the title of European vice-champion in marathon mountain biking. For her second season on the circuit she is part of the Buff Megamo team, one of the most competitive teams in this discipline in which she will be able to continue her progression! We will find her this year on the international circuit, but also at the Raid Evolénard. Meet :
You only started running marathons last year. Can you tell us a little more about your background and what attracted you to this discipline?
I have been racing since 2013, but for a long time I was only focused on cross country. At the end of 2021, I realized that I needed a change and a new challenge. I participated in a few marathons and, to everyone’s surprise, I was able to qualify for the world championships. For the 2022 season, I then switched completely to the marathon distance. A decision I have not regretted for a second.
Long distances fascinate me a lot. You have to make a maximum effort for several hours or, in the case of stage races, for several days, and remain totally focused. I like the alternation between long, hard climbs and technical descents.
In your first season, you achieved a great performance by becoming European vice-champion. Did you expect such a performance and can you explain us a bit more precisely how the race went?
Before the season started, I certainly didn’t expect to be ranked so high internationally and to win a European medal. But at the beginning of the season, I noticed that I had progressed well during the winter. From the very first race, I always had the European Championships in mind and dreamed of a medal. But the fact that I was actually on the podium was really cool. The EC race went very well for me. I was in the lead group from the beginning. In the middle of the race, I lost contact with the eventual winner due to a small riding error and was on my own for the rest of the course. The finish and the medal ceremony were very beautiful and full of emotion. I will never forget it.
Since the beginning of the season you have been part of the Buff Megamo team, one of the most prominent teams on the MTB marathon circuit. How did this opportunity come about and how did you integrate yourself into the team?
When I received the offer from Buff-Megamo, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It is a great privilege for me to race for one of the best marathon mountain bike teams. The team works very professionally, we have nice sponsors and we can ride with great material and equipment. I have been very welcome in the team, we get along very well with each other and it is always fun with the staff and my teammates. Only my Spanish and Catalan I still have to work a lot ;-).
With a third place in the Andalusia Bike Race with your new partner Txell Figueras, the season has started well for you. How did this race go for you?
The Andalucía Bike Race was already my third race of the season. The season has started very well for me and I am satisfied with my form for this time of the year. Last week I participated in my first race with Txell and we won the first stage of the Andaluía Bike Race. The teamwork and communication worked great and we were able to complement each other as a team. We fought day after day and managed to get on the podium in every stage. We are very happy with the way our first race went together.
Despite this good result, you are not present at the Cape Epic which is taking place at the moment. What are your goals for the rest of the season?
Txell and I are indeed not at the Cape Epic this year but we are keeping our fingers crossed for both of our teams from home.
This season, I’m focusing more on the one-day races. The most important races are the marathon world cups, the world, European and Swiss championships. I want to be at the start of these races in top shape.
My next race will be the Volcat Igulada. This race takes place practically in front of the door of our main sponsor BUFF.
On June 18, you will participate in the Raid Evolénard, a race you have never participated in before. With 2600 m of difference in altitude over 62 km, the race is rather short, but intense. Is this the kind of course that suits you well?
I am very happy to be at the start of the Raid Evolénard for the first time and I am curious to see what awaits me. But I’ve already heard a few runners say that the race is very tough with a lot of steep hills. Personally, I like climbs and races that are really selective and require you to push yourself physically and mentally to the limit. I am really looking forward to the Raid Evolénard.