After twice taking second at UTMB, Núria Picas crossed the line as the champion of the 2017 edition. In the following interview, Núria talks about why winning UTMB is a dream come true, what went wrong for her late in the race, what she was feeling when she finished, and what she’ll be doing the rest of the year.
Check out our in-depth results article to find out what happened at UTMB 2017!
Núria Picas, 2017 UTMB Champion, Interview
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, and I’m here with Núria Picas. She’s the 2017 UTMB champion. Núria, congratulations!
Núria Picas: Thank you very much. It’s awesome.
iRunFar: It’s super awesome. Twice you’ve finished second. Twice, additionally, you’ve tried the race but weren’t able to start or finish. Now, you’re the winner of UTMB. What does this feel like to you?
Picas: Yeah, dreams come true. At the end, I’m super happy, because it was a dream since I started running this sport, the ultra trails. Now I feel, wow, like… I don’t know… it’s a good feeling, but I don’t believe this is true.
iRunFar: It happened last night, but still today in your head it’s hard to think that it did?
Picas: When I arrived at the finish line, I’d dreamed a lot about this moment. When it was true, I couldn’t believe it. Now, I’ve slept five or six hours. I have a lot of pain in my legs. It’s a strange sensation.
iRunFar: Let’s talk about how the race went yesterday. You were by yourself off the front most of the time?
Picas: Yes, in Contamines I was in the front until the end. I ran very comfortable and very focused on my race, eating and drinking well. It was a little bit cold up there. It was snowing a lot of times. At the end, I had some problems with my breath. It was very difficult going down, because I couldn’t breathe. It was okay, because I had 45 minutes on Andrea Huser, and I knew it was a big pillow. But in the end, it was just three minutes. It was difficult to arrive here to Chamonix, because I couldn’t breathe. I don’t know why. Maybe the emotion…?
iRunFar: Maybe the cold air in the night?
Picas: Yeah, it was really cold up there, and maybe I had some problems with my lungs.
iRunFar: Can you talk a bit about what the conditions felt like? Going over Col du Bonhomme there was a storm, and going over Grand Col Ferret it was also storming. What was it like with winter conditions?
Picas: I prefer winter conditions for sure, because when it’s warm it’s very difficult to eat or drink and sweating a lot. I prefer cold conditions and frozen. For me, it’s really good.
iRunFar: You didn’t mind the cold and wind and snow?
Picas: I prefer bad conditions. It’s more exciting.
iRunFar: You just need the skis, though.
iRunFar: As the race went on, like you said, you kept building up a gap over the second-place woman—eventually, that was Andrea—10 minutes at this location, 14 minutes at the next one. In your head were you growing comfortable with the idea that you were the leader of UTMB and that you might win this thing?
Picas: Andrea and Caroline Chaverot are strong women, and I was thinking of them. When Caroline dropped off, for me, it’s a sad situation for her, but I felt more confident. Andrea was 45 minutes behind me, but it’s too long.
iRunFar: Anything can still happen, right?
Picas: Yes, anything can happen. I have to run and focus on myself and on the race and not think about the others because it’s my war in the end.
iRunFar: The ending, you were having problems breathing, so our reporters said you were in places walking downhill and you had to walk through town?
Picas: Yeah, I couldn’t run in the downhill because I had problems with my breath like asthma. I don’t know if it was the emotion or what.
iRunFar: How is it today?
Picas: Much better, but I have pain in my body.
iRunFar: I couldn’t figure out exactly the expression on your face at the finish line. The look on your face was something like surprise, shock, happiness?
Picas: Yeah, it’s a mix. It’s like a dream. Okay, I finished. To see all the people around there was amazing. It was a strange situation. I had dreamed a lot about this moment, because I like thinking about this, but it was different. I had problems, and it was a hard day. Maybe the next days…
iRunFar: …It will sink in.
iRunFar: You had some time off to recover your body, and now you’re back. You’re back in great physical condition. Will you race some more this year? What do you still dream of doing with this sport?
Picas: Yeah, I would like to run Ultra Pirineu.
iRunFar: Okay. Again? Back for you again? It’s like your home.
Picas: Yes, because it’s a race that is my playground. I would like to be there with my people showing the UTMB and enjoy the race. It’s the 23rd of September. I have to recover, which I don’t know if it’s possible.
iRunFar: Three weeks recovery?
Picas: Yeah, but it’s possible. It’s possible. After this, I don’t know, just enjoy and do other sports and thinking about next season. Maybe come back here… why not?
iRunFar: Okay, why not? Even the day after you say, “Why not?”
iRunFar: Well, Núria, congratulations on your win of the 2017 UTMB. I hope that sinks in.
Picas: Thank you. Thank you very much.