Ultra marathoner Fernanda Maciel has just broken the female running record for running up and down Mount Kilimanjaro.
The Brazilian athlete made history yesterday, as she completed the run in ten hours and six minutes, a whole three hours faster than the previous record holder. Fernanda ran the Tanzanian route from Umbwe Gate to the summit and then down to the Mweka Gate, to complete her route.
The run took her to the summit in seven hours, with an amazing three-hour return run, making her the fastest women to complete the route in history.
The North Face sponsored athlete trained primarily as a gymnast when growing up, before switching to running in her teens after discovering the sense of freedom that trails gave her. This particular trail has been on Maciel's bucket list for a long time and her training for yesterday's event has been ongoing for the last three years, often through tough and dangerous conditions.
“There was a moment just two days before the attempt, when a rock avalanche came down during my training at 5,200m high," she says. “Imagine rocks as large as fridges hurtling towards you! It was scary, but I shielded my body quickly and all was ok."
“Running in high mountains is such a different style of exploration"
All the training paid off in the end however, and Maciel now holds the official record for the fastest female attempt of the route in history.
“I’m very happy" she told The North Face on complete the climb. "I've been dreaming of taking on this African mountain for nearly three years and today gave me that opportunity to do so, and achieve another high-mountain world record, after Aconcagua."
“Reaching the summit was a very special moment for me, full of peace. It was beautiful to see the Stella glacier mixed with the vulcan terrain at the top of Kilimanjaro…I had an incredible day running; it was magic."
Athletes like Maciel are proving that women's bodies are just as tough as men's when competing long distance. Hopefully she will go on to break more records in the mountains, both female and male.
“Running in high mountains is such a different style of exploration" she explains of the experience up Kilimanjaro. "An amazing experience that I hope to inspire more girls to try."