Russia’s Ekaterina Mityaeva is one of the favorites for this weekend’s Vibram Hong Kong 100k. In our first interview with her, Ekaterina talks about her history with running and sport, what she enjoys about trail running, why she’s moved up to ultramarathon distances, and what trail running in Russia is like.
Ekaterina Mityaeva Pre-2019 Vibram Hong Kong 100k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Ekaterina Mityaeva. How are you today?
Ekaterina Mityaeva: Thank you, I am fine. The weather in Hong Kong is very great.
iRunFar: Perfect running conditions.
Mityaeva: Yes, because when I came four years ago I ran the Lantau Two Peaks race in October and the weather was not so good [laughs].
iRunFar: Very hot and humid?
Mityaeva: Yes, very hot and on the day of the race we had a tsunami or tornado. Windy and rainy, it was not so good.
iRunFar: So you’re happy with this weather.
Mityaeva: Yeah, yeah.
iRunFar: So where are you coming from right now?
Mityaeva: Before I stayed in Antalya [Province in Turkey]. We trained in Antalya because the weather is perfect for running and after I go to Nuremberg and Munich and all of us, we came here.
iRunFar: I understand that you came here, but your bags did not.
Mityaeva: Yeah! [Laughs] It’s not so good because all my clothes, all my backpack with my gels were in those bags. But I don’t know, maybe they will come.
iRunFar: Maybe they’ll come in time. The good news is that we’re in a very big city with running stores.
Mityaeva: Yes, yes. It’s really a great, beautiful city. Great weather, and the view around us is perfect.
Yeah, you were just running around with Jasmin Nunige and it’s so nice to have parks…
Mityaeva: Yes! To run here we have a loop, 625 meters. So, it’s perfect for running [laughs].
iRunFar: You’ll see this weekend that the course is crazy. You’re in the city at times, and then you’re up at the top of a mountain and in a forest.
Mityaeva: Yes, yesterday I was… I think we’ll run at the top [section of the course] with the trees.
iRunFar: So, tell me a little bit about your running history. When did you get started? What kind of events?
Mityaeva: I was a runner four years ago. The first race was in Chamonix, the Marathon du Mont Blanc. After, I was “Oh, I love this!” I love trail running and skyrunning because when you run, you see beautiful pictures around you. You meet with friends. I think that skyrunning and trail running are the friendliest sports.
iRunFar: Did you do other sports before running?
iRunFar: I hope so! Because you’re so good. That’s really quick to be this strong.
Mityaeva: Before I ran orienteering.
iRunFar: Oh, so you were a runner before.
Mityaeva: Yes, and after orienteering I ran a road marathon. I think I had a good result – 2:36.
iRunFar: So how long have you been a runner? You’ve been a trail runner for four years.
Mityaeva: Before, in school I think I did orienteering for seven years and five years ago I ran my first marathon on the roads.
iRunFar: So only five years for dedicated running. And you’ve had some great success at the shorter, skyrunning distances. Why did you increase to an ultramarathon?
Mityaeva: I don’t know. Because my husband loved the ultras [laughs]. I think with ultras I feel so good. Sometimes you change your speed because I can’t say, “if you run ultras, you must have a really fast speed.” No. Of course you change your speed. It’s in your head, your mind. When you start, you don’t run faster – because it’s an ultra. If you run fast at the start… it’s not so good because after you feel sort of terrible [laughs]. This race is not my distance I think, because the track [course] is not so good for me.
iRunFar: Why is that?
Mityaeva: Because when we start, we will run 20-25 kilometers (12.4-15.5 miles) on the flat.
iRunFar: But you run a 2:36 marathon! Not so many women in the race have run that fast.
Mityaeva: Yeah, but it was five years ago. Now I really like when we start by running uphill and we have technical races, it’s good for me. When we have road and very big speeds, for me it’s not so good because I sometimes have problems with my glutes.
iRunFar: You’ve had good success at Ultra Pirineu. That has a lot of climbing, though the trail itself is not so technical.
Mityaeva: Yes, yes, I agree with you. It was my first ultra.
iRunFar: It was, in 2016.
Mityaeva: I really love Ultra Pirineu. It’s a really interesting race and a wonderful organization. You run, you see more people who say, “Allez! Allez! Go! Go! Go!” It’s really cool. And I got a great result at Ultra Pirineu, I was very happy.
iRunFar: Do you think last year’s run at Ultra Pirineu is your best ultramarathon so far? What do you think your best ultramarathon performance has been so far?
Mityaeva: I think it was Ultra Pirineu. Not last year because I had fifth place. But when I had first place, yes.
iRunFar: I’d love to hear a little bit about the trail running scene in Russia. Are there a lot of trail runners? Is it growing?
Mityaeva: Yes, there are a lot of people trail running. My husband and I have our trail running school. Our trail running project is we coach all guys who want to run trails. We give all people a chance to give this motion that you can take just from the mountains.
iRunFar: When you’re in Russia, where are you based? Where do you live?
Mityaeva: In Socchi. The mountains are perfect and we have more trails for running. Of course, in Siberia we have too, because for example… oh, I forgot the name. In Siberia we have really great mountains but I think we had problems with the tracks. In Europe, you always have trail markings: if you go to the left, it will take this much time, if you go this way, it will take this much. It’s great.
iRunFar: In some places in Siberia, you don’t have that.
Mityaeva: No, but in Elbrus [a mountain in Southern Russia] we have really great trails where we can see trail markings.
iRunFar: I assume you have raced the Mount Elbrus race?
Mityaeva: Yeah, but I don’t go up because the weather is not so perfect.
iRunFar: No, I think in some years they have to stop it and not go the full kilometer. Well, it’s great to meet you and good luck this weekend.
Mityaeva: Thank you!