Italian ultrarunner Francesca Canepa was a podium-bagging professional snowboarder before switching to running at the age of 38. Despite not having run before, she came tenth overall in her first race. Incredibly, just two years later, in 2012, Francesca came second at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB). And if that wasn’t crazy enough, one week after UTMB she won the notoriously gruelling Tor des Geants, an unimaginably tough race covering 330km with 24,000m of vertical elevation.
Since then the mum of two has gone on to win more of trail running’s most revered and challenging races, including Laveredo Ultra Trail and, in 2018 at the age of 46, UTMB – six years after she ran it for the first time.
Incredibly, for an ultrarunner, Francesca avoids running as much as possible in training – yes, you read that right. In this Q&A, Francesca, who is a trained psychologist, shares what her training actually involves, how she fuels her ultras and what’s got her through the toughest moments she’s faced in her racing career so far.