Alexandra Tsoukaneli, a 33-year-old physiotherapist from Ioannina, northern Greece, was the first Greek woman to finish the 170-kilometer Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), one of the most popular sporting events in the world. “It is a physical and mental test,” stated Tsoukaneli, expressing her excitement after having completed the difficult route across the Alps.
The 33-year-old woman ran for 46 hours, 13 minutes and 36 seconds. “I did not sleep. In this kind of race, the only thing you think about is the finish line. Anything can happen, no matter how well you have prepared. You go up and down across the mountains. The passages were at 2,700 meters, while we had to climb a total of 10,000 meters and then ran another 10,000 meters downhill.”
The weather in the Alps was good, but she encountered a lot of heat. “I faced several difficulties but I surpassed them. This race tests you on multiple levels,” she said.
This was the third time that Tsoukaneli ran the UTMB. In 2012, she finished along with another Greek woman, but only in the 110-kilometer route due to bad weather conditions that forced the organizers to cut the race short.
Another 12 Greek athletes ran the UTMB, while the total number of participants reached 2,523 athletes from across the world.