Fernanda Maciel has tons of ultrarunning experience and plenty of experience on the terrain that makes up the TNF Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. In the following interview, Fernanda talks about how her season is going, how she’ll approach nutrition in cool weather, and why she’s back to run one of the UTMB races.
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Fernanda Maciel Pre-2014 TNF UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Fernanda Maciel before the 2014 The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. How are you doing, Fernanda?
Fernanda Maciel: Great! I’m great. Good weather today. I like it very warm, so it’s better for me.
iRunFar: Yesterday wasn’t a very nice day.
Maciel: No. I think since 4 a.m. in the morning it was raining really hard, so for people from the PTL race—not so good.
iRunFar: It’s been like that at UTMB a few years.
iRunFar: You’ve run a number of races here.
Maciel: Yes, I’ve been trying the UTMB. I did the UTMB but it was the short way because it had bad weather. That’s why I really wish for good weather because it will be my first time doing the real UTMB race.
iRunFar: I know you do like hotter weather, warmer weather, but yet you do keep coming back to UTMB which very often has bad conditions. Why?
Maciel: I think it’s better conditions here it’s not so problematic because I like the technical part, so I hope that it’s okay. I really worry about the cold weather during the night. I bought some extra gloves, just to make sure I can open my bars and eat and open my food and eat. I think this is very important for this type of race.
iRunFar: It’s not about just taking no extra gear. You need to be able to function.
Maciel: Yes. Like the run, I think it’s easy if everybody has been training and running, running, running so long. But to take care of the day and what you are eating, how are you feeling in your body, keeping warm—I think it’s very important. Maybe it’s the key to arrive at the finish line.
iRunFar: So a lot of people talk about being mentally tough, being strong, but it’s also being smart.
Maciel: Yes, each time you have seen people that are really getting hypothermic sometimes during trail running, so I think the material you need to use is really important. The obligatory kit is not so… it’s obligatory, but you need to take care always about yourself.
iRunFar: I’ve run with the obligatory kit and it wasn’t enough one year.
Maciel: Sometimes it’s not enough.
iRunFar: Do you find you’re able to change your nutrition strategy when it’s colder? Are you able to eat and drink more?
Maciel: It’s just a big difference from if you are racing a half marathon or marathon for a long ultra like this because you can do an ultra that is just eight hours, but this is 20, 30, 40 hours. So you really need solid foods for the race. We have to eat solid foods sometimes and you stop a little bit and breathe and eat because it’s too many cold air inside your stomach. I’m chomping during the downhill. I think you really need to take care of the stomach during this race otherwise you cannot eat if your stomach is closed. It’s a big problem.
iRunFar: You’ve raced a lot this year. Are you feeling tired?
Maciel: No more fatigue. Now, I’m feeling good because I’ve been… well, I’m still working. I got off work, but I could be here for one month. Not too much traveling, so just peaceful life here and training, so I think that helped me a lot. For the other race, because now I’m doing the Ultra-Trail World Tour, the other race was a longer race with long travelings. I kept working a lot in my life, so that was really, really tough for me.
iRunFar: So it wasn’t just a lot of races, it was long travel days. You were just tired from life.
Maciel: The motivation needs to be 200%. When I am really tired, the motivation is less.
iRunFar: So is that what happened at Mont Blanc 80k? What happened there?
Maciel: Yes. I was just giving hugs to many rocks. So, I don’t know, this is not a good way to race. I could finish, so I was happy, but it was really hard for me. No motivation.
iRunFar: There’s a great women’s field this weekend. Are you excited?
Maciel: Yes, I’m really excited. I think it will be a really nice race. Maybe you can be changed a lot (leader positions). Yes, I’m really excited because all the friends. I like the girls that are racing; they are friends. They’ve been here in Chamonix training together, not training together but really sharing these mountains. It will be nice to race.
iRunFar: It could be a very dynamic race because there are some runners who are often very quick at the beginning—Núria [Picas] and Nathalie [Mauclair]—and Rory [Bosio] is very patient like yourself.
Maciel: Yes, I think it will be like that. I hope so.
iRunFar: What about UTMB or these groups of races brings you back every year?
Maciel: It’s the magical mountain. I’ve climbed Mont Blanc. I think the landscape is very beautiful. It’s challenging. You have many good athletes over here. I think this is like a big challenge for me. It’s a longer race like I like. I like to share. Right now, I was just helping 1,000 kids to run. It’s so beautiful. It’s a complete event. That’s why I like it so much.
iRunFar: There’s a great international flavor. You’re from Brazil. You live in Catalunya. You’re speaking English here. You were speaking Brazilian Portuguese this morning at an event. Is that fun to have?
Maciel: Yes. Here, it’s crazy, but here I can meet the Brazilian runners because I not go to Brazil sometimes to run. So this is a really ‘World Cup.’ It’s amazing and awesome to be here. This is a dream for many runners and also for me, it’s a dream.
iRunFar: Best of luck and enjoy that dream.