Episode 17 Talk Ultra

Episode 17 is one seriously stacked show and somewhat a departure from our typical show format.

You can listen to Talk Ultra via the following methods


I have been travelling to several races and therefore it would seem ridiculous to concentrate on just one interview when I can get soundbites from so many. In some respects, this is what Talk Ultra is all about. An audio magazine bringing you up to the minute chat as it happens within the ultra world.

The show is dominated by two races. The Skyrunning Trofeo Kima (report here) and of course The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc.

Trofeo Kima was a wonderful race and I had the honour to catch up with Kilian Jornet before the race.


After the race I chatted with Andy Symonds, Nuria Picas, Philipp Reiter and Emelie Forsberg.




I was at the UTMB at the invite of Vibram and as such I was following the race from a Vibram perspective. This allowed me to see the workings of a Pro Team from within.

In addition to this it also allowed me a great opportunity to chat with and discuss the race. In this weeks episode you can listen to four Vibram Trail Running Team members. The section of the show starts at : 00:56:10 (timings are approximate):

  • 01:00:15 Francesca Canepa 2nd overall in the ladies race at UTMB 2012
  • 01:11:15 Ronan Moalic 20th overall UTMB 2012 
  • 01:17:55 Beppe Marazzi 
  • 01:27:45 David Gatti 

In addition to the above, you can read an article on Francesca Canepa HERE

You can also view a story in pictures of the UTMB from a Vibram perspective HERE

UTMB also allowed me an opportunity to catch up with 3rd place, Mike Foote, mens winner Francois D’Haene and ladies winner, Lizzy Hawker.

  • 02:50:45 Francois D’Haene winner of the 2012 UTMB
  • 02:54:30 Mike Foote 3rd place in the 2012 UTMB 
  • 02:58:30 Lizzy Hawker, 5th time winner of the UTMB and the queen of ultra running


Hope you enjoy the show !



Francesca Canepa – Vibram Trail Running Team

Francesca entering the feed station at Les Houche

Francesca Canepa may very well not be a name that you know. In fact, until the weekend I am pretty sure that unless you know your ultra and trail running very well you may have not even heard of her!

But after a stunning run, the 41 year old mother of two put some serious ultra running ladies in her wake when she finished second behind Lizzy Hawker at the 2012 edition of The North Face Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc.

Francesca is Italian born but now lives in Courmayer literally on the UTMB route. She only started running in 2010 but comes from a sporting background; an excellent ice skater and National level in snow boarding.

Her transformation from snow and ice to trail running is quite remarkable. In a very short period of time with the help of Prof Fabio Maragliati, she has won some impressive races:

  • Abbotsway Campionato Trail Lungo 120km 5500D+
  • Trail de Vulcain
  • Trail de L’huile Raidlights
  • Trail de Mirmande
  • Maratona Alpina Val Della Torre
  • Trail Cret de L’Oiseau de Beaujolais

At the Lavaredo Trail in June earlier this year, Francesca confirmed her potential with a win over the 120km course in the Dolomites. Her winning time of 15:58:02 relegated Fernanda Maciel (FRA) to 2nd in 16:29:02 and Katia Fori (IT) 3rd in 17:28:39.

Francesca was quoted as saying after the race:

‘I’m so excited with this result, not only for the fact I won the women’s category but also because I finished at 10th position in the overall ranking!’

Arguably at the 2012 UTMB she has moved up a notch. You don’t get on the podium at this iconic race without some hard running and a quality performance. When you look at some of the names behind Francesca, you begin to fully appreciate her outstanding achievement. Emma Roca (Spain) was 3rd  61/2 mins in arrears, Rory Bosio (USA) was 4th, Katia Fori from Italy 5th, Amy Sproston USA 8th, Meghan Arbogast USA 12th and previous UTMB winner and course record holder, Krissy Moehl (USA) was 14th over 2 hours behind her.

Believe it or not, speaking to Francesca after the race she told me that she is due to start the Tor des Geants this coming weekend. Now if you think UTMB is hard, wait till you look at the TDG; 330km with 24000m of positive incline.

“I will be on the start but I don’t know if I will finish. I am not sure if I will have recovered? It is 330km; I think if I continue the race it will be like training… I will sleep, eat… it will be a really slow race for me”

The race starts on the 9th September and competitors have days to complete the course. To provide a sense of perspective, last years female winner was Anne Marie Gross. She managed to complete the tough 330km race in 91:28:21. To clarify, that is just under 4 days! Yes, 4 days.

I managed to catch up with Francesca for a short interview on the evening after the UTMB. She looked fresh and had a glowing smile. However, it was apparent that the race had taken its toll. She had that all too familiar ‘wobble’ to her walk.

You can listen to the interview HERE

What did you think about the revised UTMB route?

“In a 100km’s we need to be fast and I didn’t like this. I also didn’t know the new course. I had problems managing my race from a food and drink perspective”

Did you think you could beat Lizzy Hawker?

“I know that Lizzy is a world champ at 100k’s. I knew she was favorite. I prefer more climbing and this new course played into Lizzies favour”

Tell me about your strategy in the feed stations?

“It’s really important that I have my own food. Renato from Vibram looks after me. I usually don’t eat what I find at the pit stops…. I normally eat no solids. I drink. I like Sprite and I appreciate Yogurt for my stomach. Fruit is nice but UTMB it was too cold”

Perfect feed station strategy

Are you happy with 2nd place?

“I am really happy with the second place. It’s my first UTMB, why would I not be happy!”

What do you think about the decision to reduce the course?

“I am sure it was a good decision. Security and safety is paramount”

Mentally did you find the new race route difficult? It was a loop course with a tough last climb?

“Yes the last climb was tough, I didn’t expect it. I also had no food or drink left. It was a challenge…. In regard to running a loop I don’t like this. Mentally it’s tough”

Did you appreciate what you had achieved with your second place?

“Yes I appreciated it! I appreciated the crowds, my children. It is a moment to remember”

Will you be back at UTMB next year?

“I need a little recovery but yes, I think I will be back”

 Francesca Canepa is a name to watch. I think the Tor des Geants will be a tough test for her and with the proximity to UTMB may very well be just a little too much! After all, it is 330km.

Her next focus race is the Skyrunning event ‘Les Course de Templiers’, Francesca will line up with the Vibram Trail Running Team and once again see if she can dominate another impressive ladies field.

Saucony ProGrid Xodus 3.0 – Vibram

 Francesca used the Saucony Pro Grid Xodus 3 with Vibram sole

Vibram – UTMB 2012

Vibram Trail Running Team – 2012

I was very fortunate this year to be invited to the 2012 The North Face UTMB by VIBRAM. Vibram as I am sure you know make quality soles for all variety of shoes.

My job was to follow the 2012 Vibram Trail Running Team around the UTMB course and help document the experience. Here is a story in pictures…..

Please click on image to bring up the Gallery Viewer.