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Ultra Trail Running

Nadia Portelli becomes first Maltese to complete Everesting Running Challenge

Nadia Portelli in action during a trail run. Photo:: Gilbert Vancell

Nadia Portelli created history in trail running after she became the first Maltese to complete an Everesting Running Challenge in Mellieħa last week.

The veteran runner joins an exclusive group of 500 people who have completed the full Everesting Challenge worldwide.

The concept of Everesting is simple. Runners are asked to pick any hill, anywhere in the world and complete repeats of it in a single activity until you climb 8,848m – the equivalent height of Mount Everest. 

Portelli chose a very technical trail hill in Mellieħa and ran continuously for 27 hours and 35 minutes to complete the challenge.

“I am an ultra-trail runner so that is why I chose a more technical terrain,” Portelli told The Sunday Times of Malta.“I ran continuously for 27 hours 35 minutes, stopping only to refuel and drink. I feel that with this achievement I have put Malta on the map of the sport, and I feel so proud.”

Portelli is an experienced Ultra Trail Runner, having participated successfully in several prestigious competitions abroad.

These include Lavereo Ultra Trail which saw her complete a 120km race distance with 6,000m of ascent on  the Dolomites, the Madeira Island Ultra Trail, which features a 117km course with 7,100m of ascent, and the World Summit of Trail Running where she participated in CCC (Courmayer, Champex, Chamonix) a 101km race with 6,000m of ascent.

My mental strength pushed me through. When I had done 8,000m I felt strong again and pushed through the final kilometre”

However, Portelli said that successful completion of the Everesting Challenge was a special feat for her.

“This challenge was special as apart from being extremely well trained one has to have extreme mental toughness.

“Runners must repeat the hill over and over through a day and night. In fact, I did 90 repeats,” Portelli said.

Completing an Everesting challenge takes out a lot from any athlete and Portelli admitted that during her feat she had to battle against nausea and sleep deprivation.

“Everesting had all these ingredients. I could have chosen a road to complete the challenge, and that would have been faster, but I am a trail runner, so I opted for a trail for this attempt,” Portelli said.

“This challenge is not about time but about completing your elevation. I was convinced that I was both physically and mentally capable although during the early hours of the night I suffered from nausea, muscular fatigue and sleep deprivation.

“However, my mental strength pushed me through. When I had done 8,000m I felt strong again and pushed through the final kilometre.”

Unprecedented feat

Having succeeded in attaining such an unprecedented feat, Portelli is determined not to rest on her laurels and is already setting her sights in competing in tougher challenges.

“This year I have been accepted to run the most important race in the world summit called Ultra Trail Du Mon Blanc,” Portelli said.

“The race consists of 171km distance with 10,000m of ascent. It’s a fascinating challenge and I’m really looking forward to it as it’s another opportunity to challenge myself in difficult conditions.”

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