Romania’s Denisa Dragomir has had two top results at the WMRA Long Distance World Championships, taking third in 2017 and fourth in 2018, and now she’s trying her legs out at the 2019 Trail World Championships. In our first interview with Denisa, she talks about her life as a professional athlete, how she feels about moving up in distance from her more regular mountain-running races, how she trained for this race, and what the Romanian mountain-running scene is like.
Be sure to read our in-depth women’s and men’s previews, and, then, follow our live coverage on race day.
Denisa Dragomir Pre-2019 Trail World Championships Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar and I’m with Denisa Dragomir. It’s a couple days before the 2019 Trail World Championships. We’re in Portugal.
Denisa Dragomir: It’s okay. I like, but I don’t enjoy so much because I arrived a few minutes ago. I made a very long trip but I have finally arrived here.
iRunFar: So you are Romanian and we were just talking, you live about a 100 kilometers outside of Bucharest in a town called?
iRunFar: Pitești. And tell me about the geography around where you live. Do you have mountains to train on??
Dragomir: Yes, I have at one hour with my car I arrive in the Făgăraş Mountains. They are very technical and the ‘hike’ mountains of Romania. And as I can go on in the Bucegi Mountains, other mountains of Romania. Maybe in two hours with my car I arrive in these mountains.
iRunFar: And the terrain around your house, is it flat or is it hilly?
Dragomir: Yeah, it’s flat.
iRunFar: So to do your mountain training you have to drive?
Dragomir: Yeah, I must have drive in one time on one week I go in the mountains.
iRunFar: Okay. Well this is my first time interviewing you and it will be my first time seeing you race. Can you tell me a little bit about your background, what do you do outside of running?
Dragomir: What I doing?
iRunFar: Like as a job?
Dragomir: No, I’m not working. My work, only I run, I run all the time. I finish my university as a teacher, university but I don’t have time to work, I prefer to run because I made two training on the day and I don’t have time.
iRunFar: Okay, so essentially you’re a professional runner.
Dragomir: Yes, I am professional runner.
iRunFar: Okay, so talk to me about your running background. How did you find the sport of running and how have you arrived to mountain running and trail running?
Dragomir: I started I think 15 years ago when I was a junior. My first race on the mountains was on the European [Junior Women Mountain Running] Championships in Bulgaria. This was the first time when I run on the European Championships and I win.
iRunFar: Which year was that?
iRunFar: Okay, and how old were you?
Dragomir: Bulgaria’s Sapareva Banya?
iRunFar: Yeah, yeah. And your age at the time?
iRunFar: So you were just young?
Dragomir: Yeah, but was a short race, only four kilometers. Not so much. I started to make the skyrunning races at 20 years. And after this I associated to go on the team in Italy, Serim, now it’s the name of my team from Italy. And all the time I made the races on the mountains but skyrunning races.
iRunFar: Now for some reason I thought that you lived in Italy at some point?
Dragomir: No, no, no all the time. I’m traveling.
iRunFar: Okay, so you haven’t lived in Italy before?
Dragomir: No, no.
iRunFar: And, then, the last couple of years you have sort of extended your distance where you have competed in the WMRA Long Distance World Championships, which extends out to 30 kilometers about.
Dragomir: Yeah, yeah, it was very, very hard when I started. I can’t believe that I can do this because the races are so long and was very difficult. But I like to enjoy the races, to run on the mountains and I tell myself, ‘I must do this.’
iRunFar: Okay, now have you had any training races where you’ve extended the distance? I think maybe the qualification race for Romania was 40k?
Dragomir: Yes, it was 53 [kilometers, at the Primavera Trail Race,] but I don’t run.
iRunFar: Oh yeah?
Dragomir: Was, I don’t know, idea from my Romanian Federation.
Dragomir: And I take the place to run.
iRunFar: I’ve got it. So have you raced anything in the 40-kilometer distance?
Dragomir: Yes I run like in two years ago, 68 kilometers.
Dragomir: Yeah, yeah.
iRunFar: So this is easy for you now?
Dragomir: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And as I may do races that are 40 or 42 kilometers, so I can do this.
iRunFar: So this isn’t a big jump up for you, you’ve been to this distance several times?
Dragomir: Yeah, yeah.
iRunFar: Have you been here before to preview the course or?
Dragomir: No, no.
iRunFar: So you’ll be seeing it for the first time on Saturday?
Dragomir: I saw few photos, in video and I think that I like this race because it’s technical and it’s fast and I like, I like.
iRunFar: Yeah, so this is iRunFar’s first time seeing you race. What are sort of your specialties? Are you an uphill runner, a downhill runner?
Dragomir: I can say that I am an uphill and downhill. But I like the technical part of the races because I am in skyrunning races. All the people told me that this race would be very fast and the last part of the time I’m training to make fast training that will help me Saturday.
iRunFar: So talk a little bit about that, what has your training looked like to race a 45k mountain race that is going to take over four hours?
Dragomir: Depends, I made tempo running or fartlek or I go in the mountains to make long distance. A little bit various.
iRunFar: And for your long training runs what has been the longest distance, have you done 40k training runs?
iRunFar: Your longest long run?
Dragomir: Longest? Was in the race.
iRunFar: During the race? Okay.
iRunFar: But your weekly long runs in your training leading up to this?
iRunFar: Like 30k or?
Dragomir: Yeah, yeah.
iRunFar: 30k is like a normal long run?
Dragomir: Yes, it’s a normal long run.
iRunFar: So mountain running in Romania, I don’t think that’s something that I understand very well, that you guys have really strong mountain runners.
Dragomir: Yes, but I think it’s a few years that’s improving, that it goes up. And are more people that are coming to run on the mountains to enjoy. And as the people believe that we can make a good results on the mountain running championships, so it every year we can try to make a strong team.
iRunFar: Tell me about Team Romania that is here for the Trail World Championships. What’s the team like? What do you think about it?
Dragomir: I think that we can make the great race, a good race. And two, may be take two medals I hope.
iRunFar: May be to take two team medals?
Dragomir: Team medals, yeah.
iRunFar: Okay. And do you think that there are runners that could reach the podium individually from Romania?
Dragomir: Yes. I think yes, it’s not impossible. We are coming to make a good race not to believe that we can take a medal and we will do the best for take this.
iRunFar: Excellent. Well it’s been great to get to know you a little bit too Denisa.
Dragomir: Me, too.
iRunFar: And good luck to you on Saturday, we look forward to following you around the course.
Dragomir: Thank you. Thank you