Tell us more about yourself Claudiu, how and when you started to fall in love with ultra running and with sport in general?
I was a very active person ever since I can remember. My first memories related to sport are since the times I was watching action movies with the heroes of my childhood (Van Damme, Stallone, Arnold). When I was a kid I wanted to be just like them. I was born in the countryside and at that time, inspired by this kind of movie, I convinced my parents to let have my own improvised gym in the backyard of our small village house.
I started to run in 2013, my first official race being a marathon in October, in Bucharest. My first ultra race was Ciucas X3 in 2015. That was the moment when I understood ultra is different, much better, much more rewarding.
What were the toughest races you’ve ever been?
During the last 2-3 years, I have increased the level of intensity in my races, both distance and speed. The most difficult one was TOR DES GEANTS (September 2019), but before this one, I took also the challenge of Transgrancanaria 360 (in the spring of 2018 and 2019) and UTMB (TDS 2016 and UTMB in 2018). I also joined Balkans Challenge in 2015 (duathlon), but not managed to complete about 50k out of the total of 1050km (640km bike and 410km run)
We can imagine that ultra running means difficult moments during the races. How you manage to overpass them?
My strategy is to give as much as I can during the training, that is why I have invested huge effort in training like a pro, although I am an amateur. I have a running coach starting January 2019, I invested a lot in energizers and medical recovery and I ran over 5.000k last year). But when I hit the wall during the races, my salvation is my mindset (I simply do not accept the idea of quitting a race) and the people in my life (I use to call my girlfriend who always finds some magic words that bring me back on track). I also always run for charity and I know that I just can not stop because that would mean that I can not bring to an end a noble mission. I always think of my runner’s community that I’ve been building ever since 2015 (SUNT ÎN FORMĂ – I am in shape). So far, almost 1.300 people joined my running training held very early in the morning, at 6.00 AM.
From all the endurance experiences you’ve had so far, why have you decided to embark in the adventure of running a multi stage self-supported race? What do you think it makes this kind of races so special?
I strongly believe in evolution, in keeping yourself motivated by new and new horizons. So far, for me, a multi-stage self-supported race is something I only read about, watched in other athletes careers, listen to other people talking about (Andrei Gligor and his CaliVita 7 Deserts experience, for example) and from all information I have so far it seems that at the end of such an experience you find somebody else at the finish line, a better self. So, I want to meet my better self by joining such an experience.
If you are to chose between 200 miles multi-stage and 200 miles non-stop what’s gonna be?
Right now my answer is 200 miles non-stop. But in August you’ll have to ask me again. Who knows what changes will appear?
What’s the mileage you often put into preparing an ultra race?
I usually run around 500k per month and over 5.000k per year. I have long runs every weekend (30-50k).
Have you had a moment during a race when you were about to quit? What was your motivation to continue?
The only race I quit was Ciucaș X3 in 2016. I started the race after climbing Mont Blanc, injured an ankle and after that I ran the 125k of TDS (at UTMB) with a broken leg basically. After that, I also wanted to compete at Ciucas, because it was my first love in what concerns ultras and after 90k my whole body simply said no. It was my one and only withdrawn. I feel sorry even today. That is why I have never quit again. And don’t even conceive another episode of this kind.
Why Ultra Race Romania? What do you think sets this race apart from others?
I have the idea of joining a multi-stage for some time now. I know there are very few multi-stage races in the entire world (about 30-40). When I found out that we have the privilege to have such a race in our country I knew the time had come! I’m so looking forward to it. It will definitely be a great experience, so very different from any other I had so far. And I had quite a few. Thank you for this amazing opportunity!