Some runners were disappointed by the season 2020 and gave up training, and some, like Romanian amateur runners Gabriel Atanasiu and Valentin Barbu, got inspired by online races. These crazy guys are taking part in almost all the online races by Run Ukraine. They ran SUPERHERO CHALLENGE 1000km per summer, “visited” all the dream cities with Sportbank Dream Running Series and now they’re going to run the whole Ukrainian Majors Running League. We talked to them to find out where they get their motivation from in this challenging time.
- How long have you been running? How did you start running?
Valentin has been running for more than 10 years and I started in 2012. We started to run together in 2016.
Why running? I’ve always loved sports, but when I finished university studies and started to work, there was no time for team sports, like football and handball. It was hard to synchronize with others and I realized I should focus on an individual sport. The best part of running in comparison with other sports is the fact that there are many amateur races you can take part in.
Valentin ran occasionally in the park and he saw an announcement in a newspaper regarding a relay where you could join on the spot. Even though he didn’t have a team, the organizers accepted him to form a team with 3 other runners who were found in the same situation. That’s how he started looking for running competitions and now he has a complete calendar with running races from Romania.
We visited almost the entire Romania with competitions, because here we have more than 100 different competitions, some of them in cities, some in the mountains. There are many other things that come with running: new friends, beautiful landscapes from Romania, incredible kits, awesome experiences, listening to stories and inspirations from other runners, stress release and keeping fit.
- What is the most memorable race in your life?
It is hard to say.
Valentin and I know each other from competitions, but one time we happened to travel together for a race in Sinaia in 2016. Since then we have participated together in more than 150 races.
Maybe the best memory was on Carpathia Trails 2019 when we celebrated 100 races together and our numbers matched to reveal the number 100.
- How has your life (and your running life) changed during the pandemic?
First, it was bad regarding the restrictions, and we were forced to stay at home for 2 months.
We both were sad because the pandemic cancelled the competitions.
Many plans for 2020 were cancelled and we also cancelled our vacations and tried to get a refund of the plane tickets and we realized that 2020 will be a year that’s not easy to forget.
Then, we focused on virtual races, more on accumulation of kilometers than races with fixed dates. After some restrictions were lifted, we joined our first virtual competition from Romania, 1972 km from 1-Jun-2020 to 31-Dec-2020.
And we decided that these virtual races will be our motivation.
- Why did you decide to participate in the online races from Run Ukraine?
Valentin participated in the Odesa Half Marathon 2018 and in that moment, he “liked” the Facebook Page of Run Ukraine.
He told me about the races you organize and we decided that it would be interesting to join them. Besides, we could not cross the border for other competitions.
Also at that moment, we were involved in a race with a cumulative distance of 1972km crossing Romania from west to east and back to west.
When we saw the medal for 1000 km, we said we should have it, and when we realized that we would have run more than 300 km by the end of August, we said why not having it too, and then the same thing with the sets, because all your medals are awesome.
- Where do you usually run? Do you have a favorite route, or do you prefer to improvise while jogging?
We run all kinds of tracks in any condition, road races, trail races and others, from 5 km to ultra-marathons.
For virtual races, most of our runs are in parks and we improvise many tracks. Sometimes, we improvise a track on the spot.
I like to run in different places and we usually join competitions we have not attended before to see something new. Now, since there are almost no competitions, we run in the parks of Bucharest.
- You are going to run the entire Dream Running Series (races for “dream cities”), as well as the Ukrainian Majors Running League. This is a total of 15 races. Not too much? 🙂 Where do you get so much strength and inspiration from?
For us running is a way of life.
For sure, running with Run Ukraine would be for us the best memory from this year.
- What is attractive to you in online races in general and Run Ukraine online races in particular?
Nowadays online races offer the motivation to overcome the actual pandemic situation and give the possibility of virtual travel.
At Run Ukraine, we found understanding when we sent in our request and we were very pleasantly surprised that we are accepted at your competitions and you give us the motivation to continue running.
Furthermore, your medals are awesome and this fact offers extra motivation to every runner.
- Some people have never run online races before and are hesitant to participate in them. Do you think they should try this format? What advice would you give them to get the most out of their online race? Is there a “lifehack” to make online races more interesting?
This concept of virtual races helps many runners to train and remain in the same physical condition.
Anyone should try an online race, especially in this period. Many virtual things are happening in our life and we need to accept this situation.
Besides, we can continue making friends anywhere. Sharing experiences is better than staying home.
You are doing a wonderful thing and you should keep it this way.
We hope to see you soon, in Ukraine, in Romania or anywhere else, but until then we should continue virtual running.
Interesting fact – this is our first interview.
Gabriel and Valentin
Join Gabriel and Valentin at the nearest Run Ukraine races!