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Interview #6 Anna Figura

June 01, 2017

Interview #6 Anna Figura

Anna Figura is a world and European champion in ski mountaineering, multiple medalist of the World Cup, the Polish Cup and four-time participant of Pierra Menta competition in France. Anna is also a well-known vertical and ultra-runner. She is Champion of the Bieg Ultra Granią Tatr 2015 in Poland and Sudtirol Ultra Skyrace 2014 in Italy. In 2015 she set a new woman speed record in extreme running during Elbrus Race - she run to the summit (5642 m) in 4hrs22min, she also made a record ascent on Mont Blanc (4810 m) - 5hrs16min.
Beginning of the year, Anna embarked on a new adventure, trying to set a new speed record on Aconcagua (6962m), Argentina.
We’ve asked Anna some questions about this challenge, her training and nutrition plan.

1.Tell us a bit about the Aconcagua Speed Challenge
    The Aconcagua Speed Challenge was an attempt to beat the women’s record. I wanted to reach the summit of Aconcagua in less than 14h. Start was at the begging of the Horcones Valley at 2900 m a.s.l. and the finish on the top of Aconcagua at 6962 m a.s.l. I had to run over 30km one way.
    The first part in the Horcones Valley was really hard for me. The Valley is long and monotonous... More than 10 km of it is really flat and the ground is a mixture of sand, gravel and dust. Running there is like running on the beach. Moreover, wind blowing directly in my face, made the run much more difficult.
    I reached the base camp (1400 m height difference, 23 km) in 5 hours. I was really glad, it was a good result. Moreover I still felt “fresh” and had power to continue running. The weather was good and I was positively motivated. After reaching the altitude 4900 m, I suddenly felt really bad. I got stomach-ache and dizziness.  I took a break but it didn’t help me. With every step I felt worse and worse. I decided to turn back at 5400 m. It was the 9th hour of my challenge.
    Of course I did the acclimatization first. I spent two weeks in the base camp Plaza the Mulas. I reached the 6100 m altitude three times. After acclimatization I came back to the village Penitentes for rest. I had permission (very expensive ticket to Aconcagua National Park) valid only till 17.01.2017. Unfortunately the weather forecast was really bad. I decided to try on the 12.01.2017. It was the last day of good weather. After that, the weather forecast showed wind 100 km/h and perceptible temp. -36°C - -38°C. I had no choice. It was the only one and the last chance to beat the record. I had only two days rest after my acclimatization. It was not enough and I knew it... but I really wanted to try.
    2. How did you train for this challenge in particular and how do you generally train?
      Generally I train ski mountaineering and also mountain running. Mountain running was first just a way for preparing for winter ski mountaineering season, but now taking part in mountain running races is also very important for me.  I train 6-7 times a week after work. During the weekends I do longer trainings or two trainings. Besides running and skitour running in the winter I go to the gym, cycling, swimming and climbing.  
      Before Aconcagua Speed Challenge I did a lot of long-time trainings in the Tatra Mountains. During my trainings I tried to overcome the height difference around 2500 – 3500 m. I wanted also to spend some time training in the Alps, but because of my work in the State Forest I couldn’t go there.
      3. Besides being an athlete, you also work at the state forest and as Mountain Guide in the Tatra Mountains. How do you manage to combine so much training and work?
        Sometimes is really hard to combine everything. Now I work in administration in the State Forest. From Monday to Friday I’m sitting next to the computer 8 hours per day. After work I have time for trainings, but is not enough if I would like to compete with the best runners in the world. This year I used all my vacation for Aconcagua project, so to the end of 2017 I have only 3 days off... It is too little to take part in important competitions like World Championships (forget about training camps), so this year I had to resign from the Polish Ski mountaineering Team and also I declined the offer from Polish Skyrunning Team. I don’t know what the future comes, maybe I will again start in the national team or I will do my own mountain project like Aconcagua Speed Record? I will see... for sure I didn’t resign from the mountains! 
        4. Ski mountaineering or ultra-running? What came first and when did you start participating in competitions?
          First was running but only in school league. When I was 13 I started to practice ski mountaineering and I discovered that this sport is my real passion. I entered the national team when I was 18 and I continue running but only like a summer preparation for the winter season. I was 8 years in the Polish Ski mountaineering Team and I won seven medals at the European and World Championships.
          5. Nutrition is very important in endurance sports. Do you have a nutrition plan? Tell us about your eating habits before – during – after an expedition or race.
            I’m not an “eating freak”:) I try to keep a balanced diet. I avoid fried dishes, instead of them I prefer baked. In Poland we have tradition of preparing different soups. I love them! They are healthy, nutritious, easy to prepare. I also eat a lot of groats and cereals like millet groats, buckwheat, oat cereals, barley with vegetables and fruits.
            6. Do you use LYO Powders in the kitchen as well? Do you have a favorite recipe?

              Yes, I use it. My favorite recipe is ice-cream prepared from frozen bananas with milk and strawberries or raspberries powder. I also like different cocktails prepared from fresh fruits and LYO Powders.

              7. What do you do in your spare time?

                It’s difficult for me to find a little spare time, but if occasionally I have a little time, I like reading books and do logic quizzes.

                8. What are your plans for the future?
                  I dream about a mountain in Pakistan – Laila Peak. Climbing there is much more difficult and technical than climbing on any other high mountain I reached before. I read about first skiing from Laila Peak. I really would like to do it, but I’m not sure if I’m ready for such a big challenge.
                   
                  Thanks for sharing these with us and have fun in the mountains!
                   
                  Photos: Marek Kowalski



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