Czech runner Marcela Vašínová only had to travel from her current home in Salzburg, Austria, to the 2023 Trail World Championships 80k in Innsbruck-Stubai, Austria. In the following interview, our first with Marcela, she talks about how she only started running four years ago, how her best trail races so far were in 2020 only a year into her trail running, how she continues to run without a coach or a training plan, and how she’s feeling going into her longest race so far.
Marcela Vašínová Pre-2023 Trail World Championships 80k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Marcela Vašínová before the 2023 Trail World Championships. How are you?
Marcela Vašínová: I’m great, actually. Thank you very much.
iRunFar: What a beautiful place to be. But it’s, you’re running for the Czech Republic but you live in Salzburg, Austria.
Vašínová: Yes, exactly. It’s like two hours away from here in the mountains. Beautiful country to live in.
iRunFar: Awesome. Well, before we get into that, the first time we interview somebody we love to ask sort of what’s your history with sports and running? Like did you come straight to running or did you come to it from other sports?
Vašínová: No, actually came out of nowhere. So, there’s no sports background, no running background. Back in 2019 I moved to Austria and I start moving a little bit faster in the mountains and evolved to be running then and yeah.
iRunFar: Did you have friends that did trail running?
Vašínová: No, no, I just felt like walking. It takes so much time to walk from one mountain to another, so I just started to run to be faster from one place to another place without any training or anything like that. I just like it. Then I said like, “Okay, let’s try some competition.”
Vašínová: To meet some people who like the same thing, so why not? And yeah, so late 2019 was my first competition. It went well and since then, I started to run. So far, I still do not have any training plan, no coach, nothing.
iRunFar: This is you.
Vašínová: It is continuous. Wild.
iRunFar: When you traded the hiking boots for running shoes, it didn’t take very long.
Vašínová: I was also running in the hiking shoes.
iRunFar: Okay. So it’s a very quick transition and here you are already running at the trail world championships. So far, you’ve run mostly shorter trail races and some shorter ultras. Not to — you’ve run ultramarathons — but will this be your longest race?
Vašínová: Yeah, very much the longest. So far, the longest I did was in Czech. It was 67 kilometers but yeah, 3,000 elevation meters and here it’s more than twice. So it’s going to be — even though I like skyrunning, I like technical running.
iRunFar: Which you’ll have here.
Vašínová: Yes, but this is like six times some [races’] vertical. Right. So yeah, I’m a bit scared of course.
iRunFar: What are you nervous about?
Vašínová: I’m not nervous. I mean, I had some serious injuries last year. The season went not that well. And I got injured at the European Championships. So, this is in my head quite a lot. And I fear it might happen again. So yeah, it’s like health first, and if that works well, I believe I can do it. But yeah.
iRunFar: So how will you approach the race? It could be many hours longer than you’ve run before. How will you keep yourself patient, keep yourself relaxed?
Vašínová: I actually love being outside. I love endurance stuff. So, when I go cycling, for example, I spend 10 to 12 hours outside. So, I don’t think that I will have problems with the head. I will be enjoying it. The only thing I fear is like, some part of my body will stop working. But then I quit. I don’t feel any pressure. I think I would be a little bit disappointed, or the team will be disappointed, but you can expect this on such a long and difficult course. So yeah, I feel pretty relaxed and I want to enjoy it.
iRunFar: What do you think your best trail running performance has been so far? What race?
Vašínová: It was definitely in 2020. It was like the first year. It was all new to me and I had this energy. I did 14 marathons in a season. Local ones, you know, throughout Germany, and I won most of them and it was just feeling like, Oh my gosh, I love it so much.”And I had no injuries. So definitely the whole season. And the achievements would be probably the world championships or skyrunning where I’ve got actually three gold medals. So that was…
iRunFar: Feels pretty good.
Vašínová: It was a highlight.
iRunFar: That soon into running.
Vašínová: Yeah, it was 1.5 years since I started to run. So, it’s funny. I also could not believe it. I felt like, Okay, someone’s making some fun. I would not believe you if you would tell me two years ago it worked out well.
iRunFar: Are you still enjoying it?
Vašínová: Yes, yes. I said I never wanted the running [to be] like a job or a must. I love it because I love it. I love outdoors, being there. And yeah, it’s my passion.
iRunFar: So, the same with training?
Vašínová: Yeah, I do not call it training. Yeah.
iRunFar: You just go run.
Vašínová: I just go for a run.
iRunFar: But do you do some hard runs in there or some?
Vašínová: I never do anything like intervals or speed stuff. I just, as I feel. If I feel like yeah, today I don’t want to run, I do not run. A week. I don’t run a week. I love cycling so I cycle a lot. And when I feel like “Okay, let’s do a marathon today,” then I go for a marathon.
iRunFar: If you feel like running fast, you run fast.
Vašínová: Yes, exactly. It’s all, I’m trying to listen to my body. It’s very important for me. And yeah, so far it works. I know that I could be better if I had a plan and put in some order and do some speed trainings. Everyone’s saying that. But I think I started quite old already. And I just want to be able to enjoy it.
iRunFar: And you also do some ski mountaineering, you said on the side, or not on the side but as well.
Vašínová: As well.
iRunFar: So, three sports, three disciplines.
Vašínová: Yeah. Actually, cycling is just for fun. And ski mountaineering, I do the World Cup. So, it’s a very long season from November to this year. It ended a month ago actually, just in northern Norway. And yeah, by the end of April, and now after one month of actually just running.
iRunFar: Didn’t you have, did you race in Spain recently and then go up to a very hot day?
Vašínová: Yeah. The Calamorro [Skyrace] was 38.5 degrees [Celsius = 101 Fahrenheit]. And it was exactly two weeks when I moved back from Norway. So, the difference was quite big. I think it was difficult for everyone, not just for me. The heat was really disgusting.
iRunFar: So have you run, you live in Salzburg, two hours away. Have you run some of the trails here?
Vašínová: I’m originally coming here for skimo.
Vašínová: I did skimo most of the route. I know it. But I was here last week for some training. I did 70% of the course, snowy parts especially. And yeah, I know the area surrounding so there’s nothing really that would surprise me.
iRunFar: Do you think there’s parts of this course that will surprise other runners who maybe have not seen it?
Vašínová: I think everyone more or less did by themselves or on Instagram by some other people running it, because we were all like, “How much snow is still up there?” Okay, and we share it of course, all of us. So, I guess everyone’s pretty much prepared for the conditions.
iRunFar: Tough conditions. The snow.
Vašínová: I actually think if I counted correctly, it’s like 10 hours the organizers are counting for a winner of the female team.
iRunFar: In the people I’ve spoken to, like people who’ve been on the podium here, or not here, but world champions, say the men’s winner could be 10 hours.
Vašínová: Right? So, like this is impossible. Have they even seen where are we going? Yeah, I think we are not going to be here when it’s time for the ceremonies.
iRunFar: It’s a very slow course.
Vašínová: Yeah. It is indeed.
iRunFar: Well best of luck at your longest race to date, and enjoy.