Núria Picas is an absolute sensation on the European mountain-running scene, having proven herself capable of winning at a wide range of sub-100-mile distances. That said, the 2013 The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is her first 100-mile race. In the following interview, Núria talks about how she got started with trail running, how she’s planning to tackle her first 100 miler, what women in the trail running community she will draw inspiration from this weekend, and what she’s learned from spending two weeks in Chamonix with BUFF teammate Anton Krupicka.
[Editor’s Note: Here’s our full 2013 TNF UTMB women’s race preview.]
[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]
Núria Picas Pre-2013 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here before The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) with Nuria Picas. How are you, Núria?
Núria Picas: Fine.
iRF: We’ve met many times, but this the first time I’ve had the chance to interview you. I’m excited.
Picas: It’s very good to meet you again. I’m happy.
iRF: So Nuria, what is your history with running and endurance sports?
Picas: Yes, I began to run the trails in Cavalls del Vent in 2011—two years ago. For me it was a very good experience because I won that race and then the year after I ran Transvulcania, Cavalls del Vent again, Kima, Templiers, and now UTMB.
iRF: You’ve had very good results the past two years—winning many races and getting second in some races.
Picas: Yes. It was a surprise for me because I didn’t know these kinds of things would happen for me. I’m very happy.
iRF: Before ultra trails, were you a runner or did you do adventure racing?
Picas: Yes, a lot of things—runner, mountain biker, climber. I enjoy doing a lot of kinds of sports in the mountains. Now it’s time to run ultra trails.
iRF: If you were running before and now you’re doing ultra trail, do you find that you enjoy spending more time in the mountains? Is that one of the reasons you enjoy doing these longer races?
Picas: Yes. I love mountains; I love doing kinds of sports. This meets. For me, this is an explosive cocktail. I love it. I love running the trails, the people I meet around the world, and I love the places.
iRF: This is your first attempt at a 100-mile race [160k]. What are you thinking going into it?
Picas: Yes, my first. Oh, I’m very worried because I don’t know if my body and my mind is okay to run this kind of distance, but I hope if I eat a lot of food and I’m going slowly that I think it will be a good experience. But I’m a little nervous, yes.
iRF: A little nervous. The equation and the math have changed in the last day with Lizzy Hawker not running.
Picas: Yes, it’s a pity. It’s my preference that I like to run together all the at least a few meters. I’d like that Lizzy was here because she’s the biggest, one of the biggest racers, in the world. Good luck, Lizzy!
iRF: Another big runner, Emelie Forsberg, you and her have raced so many times the last two years. You’ve won some races; she’s won others. Do you enjoy that? Does it help your running?
Picas: Yes, no, I will really miss her. Yeah, I know. Emelie will be here to push me because we are very good friends. Lizzy won’t be running with me, but she’ll be there.
iRF: When do you race Emelie again? Do you now when you will run against her again?
Picas: Together? When? I don’t know because I will run Cavalls del Vent again and Emelie is going to UROC in the States. This year, it may be impossible to run with her again—maybe next year.
iRF: Something to look forward to next year.
Picas: In Transvulcania for sure. Transvulcania, Zegama—I don’t know, maybe next year at UTMB?
Picas: Maybe. Yeah. Like Anna Frost. I like Anna Frost and she will be here.
iRF: It’s great to get to test yourself against those great runners and, you can’t see it right now because it’s behind the trees but, against Mont Blanc. It’s something special.
Picas: Yes, it’s very special. Special mountains. It’s the highest point in France and one of the highest in Europe.
iRF: You spend lots of time in the mountains in Catalunya, but this is different.
Picas: This is different. This is different because it’s very, very big, but all are mountains. I like a lot to stay here. For me it’s special to run around it.
iRF: You’ve been here for three weeks?
Picas: Yes, since 16th of August I was up here.
iRF: So two weeks.
Picas: Yes, I’ve been training around the mountain every day, biking and relaxing, reading a lot of books, watching some videos about Kilian [Jornet] and Lizzy Hawker for motivations and energy.
iRF: Well, you’ve been staying with two very motivated and energetic runners—Anton Krupicka and Joe Grant. In the United States, Anton has the reputation that, when he wants to run he runs, and maybe he doesn’t relax so much before a race. Have you been able to actually…
Picas: I saw Anton yesterday and he said, “Today only one hour. Tomorrow one hour.” He’s a very good runner and he runs smart, very smart. I hope he will do a very good race. For me it’s very good to be with Anton these days because I have learned a lot of things and with Joe Grant.
iRF: Any ideas that you’ve learned from them that really stand out?
Picas: To eat a lot of sweets and a lot of Nutella.
iRF: Before the race or during?
Picas: Before. No, we were talking a lot and for me it’s very nice.
iRF: Back in Catalunya, you’re a firewoman, yes?
Picas: Yes, I work as a firewoman or firefighter. It’s a good job because I have a lot of rest days to train and we have to be fit for our job as well. Then the things about being a trail runner and my job go together in the same direction—to be fit and to be prepared.
iRF: It also seems flexible—you were here for two weeks to prepare.
Picas: My holidays—these are my holidays—fifteen days in Chamonix.
iRF: It’s a good vacation.
Picas: Yes, very good. I’m very happy to be here.
iRF: Well, best of luck in your first 100 miler. We look forward to seeing you out there.
Picas: We’ll see you during the race and maybe after?
iRF: Yes. Let’s hope.