With her second-place finish at the 2014 The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, Núria Picas has a win and two seconds in her three attempts at major 100-mile races. In the following interview, Núria talks about what it’s like running with the other top women in races, why she hopes even more top women will run UTMB next year, and how UTMB is similar to Zegama, among other topics.
Read our results article for the full story on how the 2014 TNF UTMB unfolded.
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Núria Picas Post-2014 TNF UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Núria Picas after her second-place finish at the 2014 The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Great race, Núria.
Núria Picas: Thank you.
iRunFar: How are you feeling today?
Picas: Just a little tired, but really happy.
iRunFar: What an amazing performance yesterday. You’ve now run three 100-mile races. You finished second here. You won UTMF. You were second here again. Are you just going to switch to 100-mile races?
Picas: No, no. For me, it’s okay. This season is too long and yesterday was a fast competition. I’m very happy to finish the race and, of course, to be second for me is amazing.
iRunFar: You, of course like normal, went out with the leaders. Did you feel good the first half of the race?
Picas: Yes, the first part of the race for me was amazing because I was running with Rory Bosio and enjoyed a lot with her. I arrived in Courmayeur in first position and, yeah, it was good. It was very, very good.
iRunFar: When you’re running with Rory, are you ever talking?
Picas: Yes, sometimes. In downhills I’m faster than her, then I passed her. In the uphills it’s the opposite. When we pass a lot of times, it was very funny…
iRunFar: In the first half of the race when you’re going back and forth, you’re not always running together, are you still very encouraging when you go past Rory or Rory goes past you?
Picas: Yeah, yeah. It was really funny. We were speaking about this, and she asked me if I need something and it’s wonderful.
iRunFar: So you’re trying to run as fast as you can and run your best race, but there’s still camaraderie? You’re still friends?
Picas: Yes, of course. This is a fantastic competition because of the other runners and we are friends. This is good for the sport and for this kind of place.
iRunFar: Because then you get to enjoy when you are on the trail together or in these fantastic places.
Picas: Yes, it’s our own race and you have to think about your things, but if you can speak with the others this is better.
iRunFar: It’s great because that friendship is not just during the race, it’s outside of the race. We were at the press conference and they’re asking Rory, “Are you going to come back next year.” You’re like, “Nooooooo!”
Picas: No, please. No, please.
iRunFar: But you can have that fun.
Picas: Yes, it’s funny. It’s great to run against good competition and for me it’s better if Rory and Emelie [Forsberg] and Anna Frost come together.
iRunFar: The more great runners the better.
Picas: Yes, of course. I really think so.
iRunFar: At a race like this you’re running with men all the day. Is it nice to have…?
Picas: Yes, it’s nice to see the women in front of you or near to you like Nathalie Mauclair or Fernanda Maciel because always we have all men. It’s fantastic to be next to girls.
iRunFar: When you’re running with the men do you almost not see them? Do you ignore them? If you know some of them do you talk with them as well?
Picas: Yes, I talk with them. I was running with Timothy Olson yesterday. It was funny because Timothy is, for me, like a star, and with Javi Dominguez. I like talking with other competition. It’s good.
iRunFar: Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes it’s difficult. But for how much of the race are you having fun and enjoying the experience?
Picas: The first part of the race when we began—Chamonix, Les Houches, Les Contamines, Saint-Gervais—it was amazing. It was really, really funny because it was full of people pushing us. I enjoyed it a lot. The worst part of the race is from Courmayeur to Champex-Lac. It’s in the night and I felt alone. This is a very hard part of the race.
iRunFar: You’re with the top men but there are still not many runners ahead of you so there are big spaces.
Picas: Yes. Completely alone in the dark and I only have my lamp.
iRunFar: A tunnel.
Picas: Yes, it’s like a tunnel. But when I arrive in Champex-Lac, Trient, Vallorcine, I met all my people and my friends pushing me. It was wonderful and exciting. I enjoyed it a lot. Then all the last part of the race for me was unbelievable.
iRunFar: When you’re at night and you’re alone and in the tunnel, was the hardest part in your head?
Picas: Yes, in my head, and my head is the most important thing. The muscles are very important for the first 70k, but the rest of the race, the head is very important. When I felt alone in the dark with the tunnel, this is the part that I think I have to learn and work for other races because it’s really important to focus.
iRunFar: Do you think if you learned that for the longer races it would help your shorter races to be more focused?
Picas: Yeah, I like to be focused. For 100 miles, it’s difficult to be focused. I need to learn a lot because I only have done three 100 miles. I think I have a lot of progress.
iRunFar: Were there times you wanted to stop, where you just wanted to, “Ahh, forget this?” During this race were there times you wanted to stop?
Picas: Oh, yeah, a lot of times about things like this, but no. I have to fight until the end of course.
iRunFar:When did Rory pass you for the final time?
Picas: In Bertone. Courmayeur, there’s a big uphill. At the end of this uphill is a shelter or refuge. We met together and it was the last bye-bye, Rory, but it was funny, yeah.
iRunFar: At any point after that were you trying to catch her?
Picas: No, because it’s a long race and I was focused on my own. It’s okay. I know that Rory now is better and faster than me at the 100 miler. It was fun to be in front of her for 80k. For me, it was nice.
iRunFar: Do you think you ran a good race for yourself?
Picas: Yes. In the dark I think I can go faster than yesterday, but for me it was a good race.
iRunFar: In total you’re proud of your race or happy?
Picas: Yes, I’m happy. I’m really happy to be here with all the people at UTMB make a fantastic competition. Maybe next year I will come back.
Picas: Yeah. It’s not only the race, it’s all the week, no?
iRunFar: To see you finish, to see you come down the street the final time. Abrazos para todos. I’m sorry, I do not know that in Catalan. All your Catalan friends…
Picas: Abraçades.Yes, because I have a lot of friends here that they raced TDS on Wednesday, so they were all in the mountains pushing me. It was wonderful to see them in the finish line. It’s UTMB—a fantastic world.
iRunFar: Awesome. Coming down through the final second day, you were talking about your friends supporting you, but the fans… there are so many supporters at the race. Is that enjoyable?
Picas: Yes. It is like Zegama, no, in the Basque mountains. There are a lot of people in the mountains. Yesterday it was raining a lot in Les Contamines, but it was full of people. It’s fantastic.
iRunFar: Many people who love the mountains and love sports.
iRunFar: Is this the end of your season or do you continue? Is it time to relax?
Picas: No, I would like to run Cavalls del Vent.
iRunFar: Oh, yes, yes.
Picas: It was my first ultra trail that I run. The four times I run and I would like to be there. This is my last race for sure.
iRunFar: So that race is fun for you.
Picas: Fun. This is at home with my people that I love.
iRunFar: So maybe between now and that race maybe you can, not stop running, but relax?
Picas: Yes. I have 20 days just relax, biking and just a little easy running, but yeah, piano, piano (soft, soft) because I’m really tired.
iRunFar: Congratulations on your run, Núria.
Picas: Thank you very much.