top of page

Running to UTMB with Matilde Miani

We sat down with Matilde to discover more about her journey and races at UTMB this year. An inspiring story for everyone who's starting from scratch on their path into trail and ultra running.

matilde miani running

Through some mutual connections, we had the chance to interview Matilde Miani right after her run around the Mont Blanc. She started her journey into running just a few years ago and this escalated quickly from short races to the biggest race in the world, UTMB.

We think Matilde's journey could inspire many runners who think they don't have enough time to fit the training into their schedule or don't know where to start. Matilde is not a professional runner but a full-time physiotherapist. In just a few years went from running 20k at Trail 3 Castelli to 100k at DoppiaW Ultra and, lastly, 100 Miles around the Mont Blanc in 42:21:51. Her journey shows how everyone can get it done if their dreams are big enough.

Seeing the races you have participated in, it seems that something changed in the last year when you dropped 50k races and moved to longer distances. What led you to push yourself to longer distances?

True, as I calmly look back at my latest milestones, I realize that I raised the distance bar quite quickly. This happened naturally, in trail running one race drags the other. I don't consider myself an overly competitive person, I don't like to be attached to the clock and suffer but, personally, I love to spend time immersed in the mountains whether it's for a 20k or a 100k the spirit as I hang up my bib is always the same: to get out and have fun in this natural playground that the mountains offer us. Clearly, the moment you realize your body can handle a 50k you wonder what will happen if you increase the mileage a bit and so on you find yourself signed up for a 100k and simply appreciate the fact that the longer it is the more time you will spend in your heart place.

Clearly, the moment you realize your body can handle a 50k you wonder what will happen if you increase the mileage a bit and so on you find yourself signed up for a 100k

matilde miani utmb
Matilde arriving in Chamonix

For many, running at UTMB is a dream born while watching a YouTube video or reading an article about the race. How did your desire come about?

I confess that the media confusion associated with this series of events caught my attention for a few years already. Three years ago I tried to sign up for OCC, and last year for CCC, and both times my name wasn’t drawn. I was a bit disappointed but, in the end, there were so many races that I quickly consoled myself by signing up for more and accepting that it was probably not yet time. Last year with a group of my teammates I was in Courmayeur during UTMB week and I went at night to watch the front runners pass by. What can I say the warmth of the crowd and the amount of people cheering took a piece of my heart.

So, in December when the registration opened I couldn't help but try the draw for the Queen Race for which I had meanwhile accumulated the necessary requirements. It ended there, convinced that like the previous two times, it would take at least a couple of years for it to become a reality, until one day in January I was at work sitting at my desk, received an email from UTMB, and opening it I discovered that I had been drawn. On one hand, I was the happiest person in the world while on the other hand, I thought I committed to something bigger than myself. But in short, I believe in destiny so much and there are opportunities that don't come your way every day so I jumped at the chance and finalized my entry.

matilde miani UTMB course
Matilde on course

What was your approach to a race like UTMB? What do you think was the most important moment or training you did during your preparation?

It has definitely not been an easy journey, a month and a half after my enrollment and just a week after I had started the training plan I was forced to stop completely for more than 1 month because of a health problem whose therapy was absolute rest. It was a real blow, not so much from a physical point of view but more from a psychological one. I tend to be a person who always tries to see the positive side of things but in this case, I was not sleeping at night thinking about how many workouts I was missing and I felt like I was no longer in control of things until I realized that maybe I needed this period to recharge my batteries before the season and I accepted it. Certainly, this experience was a kind of training in accepting that things don't always go our way.

Having said that, in general, I like to challenge myself by proposing workouts that I don't enjoy at all in such a way that later in the race between cheering and scenery everything looks beautiful compared to what I have already done. One example was doing a ride three times in a row that consisted of going up a ski slope and down the trail for a total of 3000d+ under the sun. Ugly, for sure, but it got the job done. Other times I try to take advantage of the races that are in the area to do a little longer workouts maybe combining a few outings the day before to arrive already a little tired and test myself.

Could you sum up your race in three words?

Chills, tears (of joy) and sleep. I had a good time, though - laugh.

matilde miani utmb
Matilde at the finish line

UTMB was the first race you raced abroad and by far the most attended. How was being part of the Chamonix circus that continues to grow each year?

Chamonix is something incredible, we often hear about it but until you are there you cannot understand. Seeing the amount of people from hundreds of countries around the world really leaves you speechless. The power of sharing to the nth degree. At the start I cried from happiness, my sunglasses hid the tears, I felt like I was inside a dream, I thought that even if I had to withdraw after a few kilometers it was worth it just to be there at that moment. During the race not only the volunteers but also all the other participants are ready to help you as if you have known them all your life. And at the finish line whatever...people screaming at you as if you were the first is priceless. Unique emotions that I will carry in my heart forever. I will definitely come back one day.

My advice is to appreciate every second in both training and competition and have passion for what you do.

What advice would you give to a person approaching the world of ultra running and, in particular, to a woman?

My advice is to appreciate every second in both training and competition and have passion for what you do. If you put your heart and soul into it, things will come. The race in the end is just the culmination of all the effort we put into training and everyday life. Ultra running teaches us that things can be accomplished with perseverance and patience, that you don't have to have a perfect physique to accomplish great things, that our vulnerability is also our strongest weapon, and that the lower you go the higher you will climb. Don't be in a hurry to achieve goals; we all started from the local 15k race and are slowly making our way into the world of ultra distances as well. Ultra is absolutely not just suffering, it is fun, energy, adrenaline, excitement, and sharing. You must try it.

This interview has been edited.


bottom of page