Cédric Fleureton is a legend when it comes to ITU short course racing. During his years as a professional Triathlete he was no stranger on podiums around the world. His fierce style of racing paired with his trademark smile made him a fan favorite and well liked amongst his competitors. After his professional career he took a break from the sport just to come back stronger and fresher. Just 43 years young he is still motivated as ever and has a busy shedule racing all sorts of endurance races. Just recently he finshed the Ötillö SwimRun World Championships together with another famous french Triathlete, David Hauss. I caught up with Cédric to find out if he enjoyed his first Ötillö experience and what he is planning for the future.

Runssel: For 15 years you competed on international level in Triathlon. In 2010 you finished your career. Looking back at all those races you did, which is the one you like to remember most and why?
Cédric: My two World Cup victories in Cancun 2004 and Lorient 2008. Why? 2004 and 2008 were Olympic years and despite my results the federation did not nominate me for the games. I went on to win the World Cup in both years! Unquestionably the best rebellion that an athlete can show.

Runssel: After four years of retirement you came back to competitive running. What did you do in the four years away from the sport?
Cédric: At the end of 2009 I broke my ankle. Consequently I could not run for 2 years. I did not want to compete again but for my personal well-being I never stopped doing sports. During the time away from professional sport I was doing a bit of mountain biking and running around the hills behind my house in Lyon.

Picture Credit: Activ’ for SwimRun Magazine Europe 

Runssel: Eventually it was trail running that got you out of your retirement. How did you find the sport and what did motivate you to race competitively again?
Cédric: One day a good friend of mine asked me to retrieve my athletic license in order to rank his club in a national competition. At first I did not really want to race competitively again but as it was a good friend of mine that asked me, I agreed to run. It was the French championship in mountain running and I finished in 6th place. With this result I barely missed a place in the national team. So I got caught up in the game again and my goal was to qualify for the French team. I went on to win the French Championship the year after that. Two months after my victory I was part of the national team that went to the Trail Running world championships. Consequently I decided to start my second career because I really appreciated running in the mountains. It created a very special pleasure and emotion for me.

Runssel: In the 2017 Trail World Championships in Badia Prataglia, Italy, you lead for a long time and had to settle for third at the end. What happened? Were you happy with your result?
Cédric: I felt really good that day. I was leading the race by 5 minutes 15 kilometers away from the finish. Unexpectedly I got cramps and I needed to slow down considerably. Until now I do not know what had happened. Mentally it was dreadful as I felt really good but muscularly my body stopped working. Still was able to push a bit and managed to finish 3rd. Regardless of the good result I had mixed feelings between disappointment and happiness. I could have won but finished 10th also.

Picture Credit: Activ’ for SwimRun Magazine Europe

Runssel: Coming from a short course background in Triathlon, how did you adjust to the longer trail races?
Cédric: I simply lengthened my training sessions. I am very lucky to have developed a good base speed during my short distance triathlon career. For trail running I just fine-tuned my skillset. I can go fast, long, and I’m a good climber and downhiller.

Runssel: Just a couple of weeks ago you raced the Ötillö SwimRun World Championships with David Hauss. When was the first time you heard about that sport?
Cédric: Two years ago. Some friends made me discover this sport in Cassis (close to Marseille). Instantly it was a lot of fun!

Runssel: How did you guys prepare for the race?
Cédric: We were able to do only two specific SwimRun training sessions the week before the race. I re-started swimming in early 2017 after 8 years without any swimming, I swam once a week. It was not until August that I put full power back into swimming properly. Ötillö was a total discovery.

Runssel: You were one of the very few competitors that were only using small finger paddles. Why?
Cédric: I choose the finger paddles for two reasons: Firstly I was afraid of not being able to swim 10km properly with big paddles. Secondly I wanted to maintain a high frequency in the water to stay warm during the cold swim sections.

Picture Credit: Activ’ for SwimRun Magazine Europe

Runssel: Which equipment did you use during the competition? What would you change if you would do the Ötillö again?
Cédric: We used a classic setup: Pull-buoy, Paddles and a rope. If I do the competition again, I would use bigger paddles. Generally we lost a lot of time at the swim exits and entries. We have to train that explicitly.

Runssel: How did the race unfold for you? It seems you had a rough patch in the middle of the race. Despite that you came back impressively and finished 7th.
Cédric: We had a good first swim. We were in contact to the leaders even though we lost so much time at the changeovers. We found a good rhythm. But early on David felt a muscular discomfort in the right leg. Consequently we had to slow down a lot. After a while David got better and we caught up again.

Picture Credit: Activ’ for SwimRun Magazine Europe

Runssel: Did you like the race? Any SwimRun related future plans?
Cédric: I loved the race… It was a total rush. The conditions were so extreme and it was great to be part of the nature that day. You can really see how small you are. Several times I said to myself: “Whaou!!! It’s too good.” It was a true adventure for two and that is also something that is very strong. I really want to do more SwimRun races in the future and why not win Ötillö? I think it’s possible.

Runssel: You’ll close your season with the Xterra Worlds on Maui. What is your goal going in the race?
Cédric: Yes, i will be at the start of the Xterra World Championship in Hawaii. My goal is pretty simple – I want to win. Saying that I have some issues as my knee is injured a bit and that prevents me from training properly.

Runssel: Do you work with a coach? How does a typical training week look like for you?
Cédric: I’ve never had coach, I always trained myself. I train much less than in the past. I try to do one session a day but with a fulltime job and a family, life it is not always on the side of an athlete.

Runssel: NTM, I Am or Fonky Family – what is your favorite French hip hop group?
Cédric: I’m more a reggae fan than hip-hop fan but I would say NTM for the ravaged voice of Joey Starr.