Francesca Canepa took second at the 2014 The North Face Transgrancanaria, but she almost didn’t finish. In this interview, Francesca talks about why she wanted to drop from the race and how she stays mentally tough during a race’s hard times. She also talks about how she uses cross training in the winter to stay fit.
For more on the race, you can read our 2014 TNF Transgrancanaria results article.
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Francesca Canepa Post-2014 TNF Transgrancanaria Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Francesca Canepa after her second-place finish.
Francesca Canepa: I’m not Vibram. No more. I broke with them. I’m just by myself.
iRunFar: Oh, you’re independent.
Canepa: Just Montura.
iRunFar: Montura? Where is Montura? Where is the company? I do not know this.
Canepa: It is an Italian company.
iRunFar: Is it local to Courmayeur?
Canepa: No, it’s in Veneto.
iRunFar: Okay. I will change it. I did not know. Congratulations on your second-place finish yesterday. How did the race go for you?
Canepa: The race was really, really hard for me because I’m not really skilled to manage technical terrain.
iRunFar: No? You live in the Alps!
Canepa: It’s not like this. This is really different, so during the night I had a lot of problems and I wanted to give up. I called my husband to ask him if I could, but he didn’t answer. So I told myself, Okay, I have to go to the next aid station. During this time, the morning arrived. With the light it always seems better, so I told myself, I’m here. After the first time I was first, now I’m fourth, and I’m always in the race. I have an opportunity and I want to get it and to try to do something better. So I changed the pace and tried to go and run and to gain position. It worked.
iRunFar: When did you pass Fernanda Maciel to go into second place?
Canepa: Near the finish line, I think, about 20k before the finish line.
iRunFar: Do you check and keep looking over your shoulder to see if she’s there?
Canepa: No, I know she’s a strong racer, so I told myself that I have to go fast. Okay, I try.
iRunFar: You don’t think; you just go.
Canepa: No, I just go. The problem was that in the final part of the race, the last kilometers, I had cramps, so I was like this. [mimicking running with cramps]
iRunFar: It’s flat.
Canepa: Yes, if you don’t run, you lose a lot of time. So I took a big risk because she arrived three minutes behind me.
iRunFar: So you had a very tough time during the race. Do you think running all of these very long races like UTMB, Tor des Géants, did that change how you think so that when you have problems in these ‘shorter’ races, you are better?
Canepa: Yes. I think so. When I’m during the race and I’m in travail, I always remember, You did TDG; this is a third of TDG, so you can finish it. It’s possible. So, yes, it’s useful.
iRunFar: This is also very early in the season. The race was the first of March. Have you trained much this winter with running?
Canepa: Not at all because where I live I have lots of snow. I did Vibram Hong Kong.
iRunFar: You won Vibram Hong Kong.
Canepa: I saw that I don’t need to run so much. For me, 50 minutes is enough if I can train myself another way.
iRunFar: So what do you do for other training?
Canepa: I ski cross country and ski Alps by myself. I don’t race; I’m just disciplined.
iRunFar: You enjoy the mountains.
iRunFar: Am I correct in thinking you’re taking part in the Ultra-Trail World Tour? You’ve run Hong Kong and this.
Canepa: The problem is now is the paycheck. I would like to take part in UTWT, but it’s really expensive. So I’d like to go to Mt. Fuji [UTMF], but the problems are the same. So I don’t know.
iRunFar: UTMB is in your backyard.
Canepa: But UTMB I have the problem that it’s too near TDG, so I don’t know.
iRunFar: You’ll just to TDG?
Canepa: I think I will try to win the third time and then no more TDG.
iRunFar: What other races do you think you’ll run this year? TDG and…?
Canepa: TDG and then I don’t know because I think that running at this level, it’s really stressful for me. So this year, maybe I run less. I want to see step by step, day by day, it’s better for me.
iRunFar: Congratulations on your very good day yesterday, and I hope to see you soon.
Canepa: Thank you very much.