Núria Picas finished second woman at the 2013 The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Though she finished almost two hours behind winner Rory Bosio, she still ran under the previous-to-Rory course record run by Krissy Moehl. In this interview, Núria talks about the hardest part of her race, the duel she had with third-place woman Emma Roca, and what she thinks of her first experience of racing 100 miles.
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Núria Picas Post-2013 TNF UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Nuria Picas after her second-place finish at the 2013 UTMB. Congratulations, Nuria.
Nuria Picas: Thank you. I’m very happy.
iRF: You should be happy. This was your first 100 mile race. How did it feel?
Picas: Now I feel very, very tired but very happy because 100 miles is a very good experience. I survived.
iRF: You did survive. You did more than survive. You had the lead early in the race. You were the top woman. Did you feel pressure when you were in the lead?
Picas: Yes, because everybody knew I was trying the UTMB but it was a surprise to win the Skyrunning World Series last year, but I’m happy. I had a lot of people pushing me during the race—family and friends.
iRF: I hear there was some good singing at Vallorcine for you.
Picas: Yes. It was nice to meet all the people there.
iRF: Yes, at La Fouly, Kilian [Jornet] and Emelie [Forsberg] were there.
Picas: Yes, Kilian and Emelie pushed me at La Fouly and La Flegere and Triente.
iRF: It was a family affair, yes?
Picas: Yes, it was a family affair. I’m very happy.
iRF: After Rory [Bosio] passed you and you were in second place, did you ever think you going to get very tired and you were going to have to stop? Did you ever think your race was going to be done? Did you ever think you would have to stop your race before the finish?
Picas: Yes, yes, sometimes. I thought to finish because there a lot of trials and I had a lot of pain in my body, but keep calm mind. I have to fight ‘til the end because my coach say, “Fight! Don’t stop!” My mind tell me stop, but never, never until the end. I’m very happy.
iRF: You did continue on very well. You never slowed down very much. You were under the old course record, the old best time for the women on the course.
iRF: That must feel good for your 100-mile debut.
Picas: Yes. Now my brain is not…
iRF: You ran faster than Krissy Moehl, the old time 24:56. You ran faster than that.
Picas: I’m very happy because I thought to do 26-27 hours. Now I’m a 24-and-a-half finisher. I don’t believe it.
iRF: Now Rory has run under 23 hours. Do you want to come back and break one day 24 hours? Would you come back and try to break?
Picas: Maybe next year, but it’s very difficult less than 24 hours. Maybe if I improve during the night. It’s very difficult for me.
iRF: What was the hardest part of it?
Picas: The night. I don’t like running at night, only the light.
iRF: So it was the actual running? It wasn’t wanting to go to sleep? It was running on the trails at night?
Picas: Yes, I prefer the night for sleeping in a bed not for running. It’s a new experience.
iRF: Maybe you can practice that some more?
Picas: Yes, I met with Lizzy Hawker during the night and I said to her, “It’s very hard to run during the night.” She said, “Keep calm. In 3 hours, the sun is shining again and you will be better.”
iRF: Did you know how close Emma Roca was getting to you?
Picas: Yes. During the night, no, but when the day comes again, people telling me 5 minutes, 6 minutes, all the time, all the time. This was very good because I was always fighting and very concentrated because Emma was behind me.
iRF: You know Emma.
Picas: I know Emma and she’s a very good runner and she has a very big brain, wise, very strong girl.
iRF: Are you from the same area in Catalunya?
Picas: Yes, we live in the Pyrenees. I live in the south part of the Pyrenees and she lives in the north.
iRF: Have you two raced against each other before?
Picas: Yes, at Cavalls de Vents two times.
iRF: Have you beaten her both times there.
iRF: Would you consider running—I know it’s the day after UTMB—do you look forward to running 100 miles again sometime?
Picas: Yesterday when I was running, I thought, This is the first and the last time I’m running 100 miles. Now, one day after, maybe I would like to run Western States. I don’t know. Or another race like this maybe, yeah. It’s very hard.
iRF: This begs the question, what American races would you want to come run? We’d love to see you over there.
Picas: I know. Western States—Western is flat. It’s very flat. It’s not like this.
iRF: There’s just about 6000m of climbing, so it’s “flat,” but it’s not like this.
Picas: Is it very warm?
iRF: Yes. It can be warm.
iRF: Leadville has more running than Western States. Maybe Hardrock?
Picas: Hardrock—it’s very difficult.
iRF: It’s very difficult, yes. There’s more hiking.
Picas: Yes. I’ve never run in the States and I’d like to be there.
iRF: What is on your schedule for this year? What races are you doing this year?
Picas: Cavalls de Vents on 21 September and then I finish my season. I would like to take a rest and stay at home, calm, and next year I will race.
iRF: Congratulations on a great year so far and a great debut 100 mile race.
Picas: Thank you very much. I’m sorry for my English because today I’m…
iRF: I’m sorry for my questions. I’m a little tired, too.
iRF: One more question for Nuria. You want to go relax. What do you to do relax and have fun?
Picas: Stay with my child. That’s not very, very relaxed, but I like reading books and listening to music, being with my friends, drinking some beers. I like climbing a lot. For me, it’s relaxing.
iRF: So maybe this fall you will go to the Pyrenees and climb.
Picas: Yes, there is a good place.
iRF: Enjoy the mountains in a different way.
Picas: Yes, I like the mountains and running, climbing, and biking, but two months no running or nothing.