No, I didn’t. I had an injury while preparing for an ultramarathon event at the end of last year, which kept me away from the race and any running event for a couple of months. This time was very hard for me because you get so used to the training, and once you have to back off it’s tough not only on the body, but on the mind as well. Besides, I’ve never raced a vertical marathon before and I was very happy to perform well at this new kind of event.
Did you enjoy it?
Yes! It is pure adrenaline from the start line to the finish, and there is no easy way out. I’m a triathlete, and there are certain races – the Ironman, for example – that can last up to 10 hours, so it is all about endurance. The Vertical Marathon is much shorter and you only have those few minutes to show what you’ve got. There is no room for mistakes.
Was it a close-fought race, or did you have a comfortable lead?
I realised I had won at floor 47, because I had a significant gap from the other runner. But something curious about this race is that some people start behind you with a slightly different start time, so you don’t really know the final results until the very last runner arrives at the top.
People may think they will run every single step of the race, but after 20 or 30 floors you struggle a lot. I had to use the side rails and even push my knees to keep a decent pace up the stairs. Not to mention the fact that the environment inside the stairwell is not the most pleasant – limited ventilation and less-than-optimal light conditions are to be expected.
We hear you’ve also competed in the triathlon World Championships…
I raced the Xterra World Championship in Maui twice, and last year I did the Ironman in Kona, Hawaii. It is a life-changing experience and something I’ve worked many years to accomplish. Racing in Kona is a dream come true for every passionate triathlete.
What is your proudest moment as a sportsman?
That’s easy to answer – it was definitely the moment when I crossed the finish line of my first Ironman in Brazil. To secure a spot in Kona was a bonus, but the whole experience of my first Ironman was remarkable.
What brought you to Dubai? What do you think of it?
Love brought me to Dubai – I came when my fiancée got a job here. I’ve been in Dubai only two months now, but I can tell that this city has a lot to offer in terms of networking and professional opportunities.
Will you be around to defend your title next year?
If I’m in town on race day, definitely!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to beat you?
Try to train as much as possible, like in any other competitive sport.