According to ultrarunner Fernanda Maciel, every girl should know how to fight. The 42-year-old Brazilian, who lives in the French Alps, 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. Fernanda 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 America’s highest mountain, Aconcagua, and in 2017, the following year, she set a female record up and down Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest in Africa. She also holds the female record for Mount Vinson, the highest in Antarctica, which she completed on Christmas day, 2022. This is 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 at the 2017 Ultra-Trail World Tour. She won the Everest Trail Race 2013, and between 2009 and 2015, she won the most famous and iconic ultra races on the planet, TDS Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, Transgrancanaria, Lavaredo, Ultra Trail Mont Fuji, Kirimbawa in the Amazon Forest, The North Face Endurance Challenge Brazil, etc. She has two third-place finishes in one of the toughest ultra races—the Marathon des Sables—running 250km through the Sahara Desert.
The 5-foot 2-inch, tattooed blonde proves looks can be deceiving. She’s fluent in five languages and holds a law degree. Fernanda worked as an environmental lawyer in São Paulo, one of the world’s largest cities, before moving to Anserall, population 40, in the Spanish Pyrenees and to Chamonix in the French Alps. She spends around four hours a day training, road cycling and running, and also works as a business woman at her own import and export company in Brazil. 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. For her first White Flow project, she ran 890km in 10 days as a pilgrim in Saint Jaques of Compostela to help children with cancer.
- 1st place, Penyagolosa Ultra Trail World Tour, 2017
- 2nd place, World Cup Ultra Trail World Tour, 2014
- 5th place, Skyrunning World Championship, 2016
- 1st place, The North Face Endurance Challenge Brazil, 2015
- 1st place, Ultra Trail Mont Fuji, 2016
- 2nd place, Ultra Trail Mont Fuji, 2015
- 1st place, TDS Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, 2009
- 1st place, Lavaredo Ultra Trail, 2011
- 1st place, Transgrancanaria, 2012
- 1st place, Everest Trail Race, 2013
- 1st place, Reventon, 2018
- 3rd place, Marathon des Sables, 2016 and 2017
- 4th place, Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, 2014