After a year away due to injury, Uxue Fraile is back for her fourth run at UTMB. In the following interview, Uxue talks about her injury, her return from it, and the emotion of missing and, then, returning to races.
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar with Uxue Fraile before the 2018 Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc. How are you, Uxue?
Uxue Fraile: I’m fine, thanks.
iRunFar: Welcome back to UTMB.
Fraile: Thank you very much.
iRunFar: You missed the race last year.
Fraile: Yeah, I was here because my brother ran. So, I was on the other side of the bib. But yes, I missed running my race.
iRunFar: Why was that?
Fraile: Well, I had an important injury at the end of 2016. I broke my knee skiing. It happened [shrugs], so I just needed some time to recover from that.
iRunFar: Was it a tendon or ligament?
Fraile: It was a ligament and my meniscus.
iRunFar: Oh, and your meniscus.
Fraile: Yes, a small piece of the meniscus.
iRunFar: So you had surgery?
Fraile: I had surgery in January of 2017 and now I’m here again.
iRunFar: But the whole of 2017…
Fraile: I was out of racing.
iRunFar: Was that difficult?
Fraile: It could be. I had three moments that were difficult. One was at the Zegama Marathon. I cried at Zegama because, you know, it’s something I’m passionate about. The other was in the Ehunmilak Ultra-Trail,and the last one was UTMB. So those were my goals for this year.
iRunFar: You cried at each of those races in 2017?
Fraile: Yes. Last year I learned that some things were so important for me and motivating for me, so now I’m trying to do those things.
iRunFar: Those specific things – are you more focused now?
Fraile: The training is important for me, but I think that I have learned that there are more things than training. But, yes, I am focusing on those races.
iRunFar: That are most important to you.
Fraile: Important to me, yes. I had Zegama this year. I tried to do Ehunmilak – not the big one but a smaller distance. That race was stopped, but I tried [shrugs and smiles]. And I’ll try to do UTMB again.
iRunFar: So, you missed most of last year for training, but you had a good year of training this year?
Fraile: Well, I started training and I did cycling and swimming and a lot of gym work last year. I started running last year, because when I was here in Chamonix with my brother I would run along different tracks. But after that, I stepped back and stopped again. Then, I started running and training with my coach at the end of January.
iRunFar:You’ve now had seven months of training. Do you feel strong?
Fraile: [Makes a face of uncertainty, laughs] It’s difficult to say if I am strong. We will know on Friday.
iRunFar: Oh, you know a little bit. You’ve run for a very long time.
Fraile: I have been training. I can’t be here if I’m not training.
iRunFar: So you’re confident.
Fraile: I don’t know if it’s going to be enough or not. It’s a long race, it’s a tough race. Anything could happen. So, I think I am trained for that.
iRunFar: And I’m guessing that you’re excited to be here.
Fraile: Yes! I’m so excited to be on the starting line and even to arrive in Chamonix.
iRunFar: Is it a different feeling from before? You were competitive and trying to run your fastest, but is there more feeling and more emotion after a year off?
Fraile: Could be, but every year is different. Every year everybody has something that you have to overcome… it’s a challenge you have to pass. Maybe it’s injury problems, or work, it’s just life. So it’s different every year, it’s been different. This is my fourth year, and every year it’s been different.
iRunFar: So far, you’ve had three very good years: fifth place, second, third. That’s a good history so far.
Fraile: Yes, the results so far were good, yeah.
iRunFar: Do you think you could maybe be on that level again this year?
Fraile: That’s what I don’t know. I’m going to try, but it doesn’t depend on me. I’m going to run for myself, for the goal of doing a good race and if I run in 26-27 hours, maybe I come here [to this level again]. But I don’t know.
iRunFar: You’ve now run UTMB three times. What is your favorite place along the course? Do you have a favorite?
Fraile: [Laughs] I know where I suffer a lot.
iRunFar: You don’t remember the good, you remember the hard.
Fraile: Well, I like arriving to Trient but two years ago, that part was very difficult for me. So… [shrugs]
iRunFar: What is usually the most difficult place for you? Is there one place that’s always a challenge?
Fraile: After Courmayeur? [80 kilometers/50 miles into the race] Yes, after Courmayeur and then between La Fouly and Champex-Lac [120-125 kilometers/75-77 miles into the race]. They are two parts that you have to run, and they are difficult to run because in that last two years I have run with a lot of heat. It was hot, really hot, and in those two parts it was maybe where I suffer lots.
iRunFar: Well, it’s great to have you back at UTMB, Uxue, and best of luck this weekend.
Fraile: Thank you.
An essay about how good and bad days are natural in a lifetime of running.