She learned to ignore allusions to her weight. When Barbora Macurová took up mountain running, her parents didn’t like it at first either. But gradually she won them over to her side and now she brought home a silver medal from the World Championships in mountain running.
The 23-year-old athlete from Frýdlant nad Ostravicí finished second in the mountain marathon at the championship in Thailand. Only Romanian Denisa Dragomirová was two minutes faster on the forty-kilometer course.
As for the national level of extreme running races in the hills, the student of social pedagogy at the University of Zlín has already achieved many successes. Now she has managed to break through on the international stage as well.
Macurová won the only Czech medal in the mountain running at the World Championships in Chiang Mai and returned home with the expedition on Tuesday.
She also brought intestinal problems from Asia. “I have some sort of virus, I’m feeling a little better now. I may have caught it on the plane, but it’s probably a general hangover. It took a toll on me,” she says.
In a race with very demanding climatic conditions, she traditionally went to the brink of exhaustion. As a runner with an extremely petite figure is used to. However, positive impressions clearly prevail with her.
Did you surprise yourself with silver from the World Cup?
Certainly. I absolutely did not expect it. I wanted to make up for the failed European Championship in June, I was twenty-second in the long trail. That’s why I mainly wanted a better position at the World Cup, and I’m completely blown away by the second place.
What led you to such a surprising result?
A three-week training session with the boys in Austria contributed to this. I enjoyed it and didn’t think so much about the performance. Sometimes it’s better to turn off your head, and if you focus only on yourself, then it works.
You finished second in 3:51:22, i.e. at a pace of roughly 4 minutes and 17 seconds per kilometer. What was the track profile like?
Two hills, up and down. In total, we climbed 2400 meters, we climbed the same hill twice at a height of 1344 meters. It was a steep hill and I gained the most time in the second run. I found myself losing a minute to the medal and ended up passing the runner in second place. I ran headlong.
Did the climate in Thailand suit you, quite unusual for European women?
I wouldn’t say so completely, but compared to other competitors, I might be able to adapt to higher temperatures better. Because I’m thin, I don’t sweat as much and I have less need to drink. I put up with it pretty well, but it certainly wasn’t easy.
A person who does not move in the environment of mountain races probably has a hard time imagining how a competitor feels at the finish line. How is it?
It is one of the reasons why I run such races. I like the feeling of destroying myself. And it’s a different feeling than finishing five or ten on the track. I already started with ultra trails in the mountains, you go through crises there when you really have to overcome yourself.
Physically, at the finish line, it is often the very edge of exhaustion, isn’t it?
Sometimes you feel good after a race when you fit. In Thailand, for example, I wasn’t so much exhausted from the muscles, rather fatigue came over me. I didn’t sleep much then. But sometimes it is really difficult and for example two weeks one is not able to do anything.
Now you are the vice-champion of the world, while last year you spoke to Svět behu about the fact that your parents do not have much understanding for your sport. Has it changed?
It’s on another level. At first, my parents were worried about my health. What are we going to talk about, sometimes it’s body hunting. And if you don’t experience the feeling during the race itself, you don’t understand it. However, I persevered, and now even my parents are cheering for me. I appreciate it a lot.
Originally, you were said to have support only with nurses.
I am from the Beskydy, where there is a large community of runners, many races take place there. I was just introduced to running by my older sister, I saw her racing. Then I ran the Beskydy Seven and it drew me more and more.
Last year you said you weighed 45 kilograms. Are other female mountain runners different?
I am extremely thin for someone. I want to gain weight myself, but with the stress I have, it’s difficult. Every runner is skinny, mine is made worse by being such a wiry type. There are girls who are bigger and run better than me. For men, it’s the other way around. So I don’t really think that my weight gives me an advantage in racing.
How often do you hear unflattering remarks about her?
Quite often. But those people don’t know me. I encountered hints that I should go for treatment and the like. I’ve already gone through a period of worrying about what other people think of me, and I’ve learned that I wouldn’t be myself like that. I’m trying to tear those notes down. I don’t listen to such advice about what I should do. Those people don’t see how I live.
How much do you run in a week?
When I’m not at training, the training volume is not that big. It moves around 100 kilometers per week. It is around 140 or 150 kilometers to the training camp.
This year, you also finished second in the national championship in the marathon. However, mountains are number one for you?
Sure. Although I spend most of my time at my friend’s place in Otrokovice and there aren’t that many hills here. But at home in Frýdlant nad Ostravicí, I have Lysa hora behind the barracks, I can run there. The road is a bit of a different challenge, I can see how I’m moving there on the times. It’s unpredictable in the hills.
How prestigious is your silver medal in the athletics world?
I’m glad that, thanks to this, hill running has become a little more visible in our country. Maybe now someone found out that running is not only on track and road. Unfortunately, otherwise, hills are not so supported in athletics, it is not an Olympic discipline. Moreover, every track is different, records cannot be measured. That’s why people who run on the track don’t really appreciate it, but then again they don’t have the enjoyment of the mountains.
Do you have any track or road goals?
I know I can’t really compete with the girls on the track, but the marathon and half marathon are a challenge for me. There I can improve and run a solid time. I’m not sure if it would be enough for a championship. However, I’m not so old yet that it can’t get better.