According to ultrarunner Fernanda Maciel, every girl should know how to fight. The 34-year-old Brazilian, who lives in a small village in the Spanish Pyranees, grew up in a family of champion martial artists and trained in the family ring. She grew up competing in high-level gymnastics, then became a capoeira fighter and a Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion. Frenanda now uses that grit to win ultraraces and set speed records on the highest mountains in the world. Fernanda is the first female to run up the entirety of Argentina’s Aconcagua mountain, the largest peak in South America, and in 2017, the following year, she set a female record up and down Mount Kilimanjaro, all part of her goal to record the female record for Fastest Known Time on each of the seven summits.
One of the world’s best ultrarunners, Fernanda has stood on the podium at the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc four times, finished in the top 5 at the Sky Running World Championships in 2017 and also on the 2017 Ultra-Trail World Tour. She won the Everest Trail Race 2013 and between 2009 and 2015, she won four The North Face ultraraces in France, Italy, Japan and Brazil.
The 5-foot, 2-inch, tattooed, blonde proves that looks can be deceiving. She’s fluent in four languages and holds a law degree. Fernanda worked an environmental lawyer in São Paulo, one of the world’s biggest cities, before moving to Anserall, population 40, where she lives in a remote wood-and-stone house with nearby trails winding straight up the Pyranees. She spends around four hours a day training, road cycling and running, and also works as a nutritionist through her company Run Sport Nutrition. She hasn’t watched TV since 2005, and meditates regularly, occasionally going on 10-day silent retreats. Fernanda carries her passion for protecting the environment into her running career. Her personal project, White Flow, documents a series of iconic runs which promote environmental and social issues around the world.