Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc is no ordinary race. This is the story of how Ekaterina Mityaeva used her dream of winning UTMB® to fuel the creation of the new TERREX Agravic Ultra.

The world isn’t always kind to dreamers. They get mocked for having their heads in the clouds and being out of touch with reality. But, for Russian trail running wonder Ekaterina Mityaeva, that ability to close her eyes and disappear into her own thoughts is like a superpower.

It allows her to calm and channel her emotions and look from within to imagine what’s possible. It explains how she went from being good with maps as a kid to winning world-class orienteering events in her teens. And how she converted a love of running in nature to becoming the best Russian ultrarunner ever, demonstrating a level of drive, grit and determination that has seen her dominate the global race scene.

Picturing what’s possible

In 2019, after almost 26 hours of gruelling racing, Ekaterina came fourth in the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB®), a 170km Alpine race with a mythic status in the long-distance trail running community. For 2021, she has entered the quicker and more technical 120km TDS® race at the UTMB®, with the dream of winning it.

When I picture what’s possible, I use my imagination, but I also start thinking in practical terms about how to make it a reality,” says Ekaterina. For what sets her apart from others, is that she always grounds her fantasies in real life action. “What do I need to do physically to get my body ready? I plan my training schedule, and my nutrition plan.

“I train all the time, and I don’t ever struggle for motivation, because I dream of getting the top result at the UTMB®. It’s such a storied and iconic event. So many people want to enter it, as it has a historic place in trail running culture and the atmosphere is so wonderful.”


Co-creating the TERREX Agravic Ultra

Racing all day, through deep forest and across sketchy and treacherous mountain trails, takes a huge toll on the body, especially the feet. To achieve her ambition of winning the toughest and most technical ultrarunning events, the last thing Ekaterina wants to be thinking about is her shoes or any problems relating to them, which could hinder her performance and ruin the whole experience.

“When you go out on long distance races, the gear you wear is so important,” she says. “You have to have shoes you trust, kit that feels good for you. I know how shoes work during ultramarathons. If you’re running for just a short distance over easy terrain, there are many shoe options - but for over 100 kilometres around Chamonix, it’s not so easy…”

So, she was thrilled when adidas invited her to collaborate on the TERREX Agravic ultrarunning shoe. “They asked me: ‘What would we need to do to build the perfect shoe for you to perform at your best?’,” says Ekaterina. “The dream question…”

I told them in long distance trail running, the most important thing is to keep your feet fresh and we tried to implement this. The sole is stiffer with a rocker shape, which holds well on various types of terrain but also keeps the foot stable and comfortable. It’s a really snappy and powerful shoe.

“The shoe also has a protective TPE plate that works really well on the ascents and descents, especially on technical trails where there are a lot of stones. And this plate, which runs for the entire length of the shoe, is made out of sustainable bio-based caster oil, a 90% renewable carbon material. This was important to me as when you spend as much time in nature as I do, my whole career is dependent on it, you want to minimise your environmental impact and wear products which support that ethos.”

Ekaterina tested countless prototypes on the alpine trails around Chamonix, where she trains regularly, her literal stomping ground. “I really felt the difference. I'm super-happy with the result,” she says.

Until the TERREX Agravic Ultra, Ekaterina had always said her ideal ultrarunning shoe would actually be two pairs of shoes, one for the first half of the race and another super-soft pair for the second half when her feet were feeling sore and achy. Is that still the case? “No, I think the mesh on this shoe is soft enough for the whole race, which is good, as who really has the energy to change their shoes half way through an ultrarunning race!”


Dreaming of Big Alpine Adventures

Knowing she has the best possible shoe, and that she’s trained as well as she can physically, Ekaterina is keen to also talk about her emotions, and how she believes her ability to daydream can help her stay mentally strong and composed during the race, while also providing a pleasant distraction when necessary.
“Everyone talks about the physical work you need to put in and the strength you need in your body, but the mental side is so important too. When I close my eyes on the start line, I’ll use my experience to run through what might happen in the race and how I can handle that, whether it’s the weather or reminding myself that I’ll have tough times, but they will pass, I’ll get through them,” she says.
“I feel good wherever there are mountains, they inspire me and give me incredible emotions. Running in the Alps, the scenery and nature is so special and dramatic, which distracts me from the pain of running for such a long time. I imagine I am out on a big adventure; it helps me switch off the suffering and endure whatever comes my way.”

“At the last UTMB®, I ran for over 25 hrs. It was really hard of course, but I also felt wonderful and now I can’t wait to run it again. I wish everyone could experience that.”

Ekaterina’s mindset is an inspiration, whether we plan to run 120 kilometres or for whatever physical challenges we set for ourselves. A reminder that emotions can be helpful, that dreams can guide and motivate us, and encourage us to look beyond what we think is possible. To unleash our true potential, we look from within.