We all know ultrarunners who have been at it for years, and even decades. Perhaps they were even competitive for a time, but inevitably mother nature catches up and the high level of competition becomes a thing of the past. Then there is Valmir Nunes, who miraculously; though he is celebrates over 20 years of ultrarunning; is still competing and winning against a flood of younger runners. Though Valmir is a Brazilian born runner, he doesn't stick around home very much, traveling far and wide to race all over the world. He's conquered Comrades, Badwater and the Spartathalon, but most recently he battled the winter Beast of Burden, and won in conditions quite different than he'd ever faced before. UM had a quick chat (in Portuguese!) with Valmir about what keeps him going strong after all these years.
-Interview by Shelley Viggiano
UM: Thanks for talking with UM! Can you tell us how you got your start in running ultras?
Valmir: I began running in 1978. I was motivated to pursue ultrarunning in 1990 when I finished a 100km run. ( 100km in Santander, Spain: 7:01:27, 3rd place)
UM: You've had some amazing wins in your career. Is there one particular race or moment that stands out as your greatest running accomplishment?
Valmir: In 1991, I ran in Madrid Spain. I didn't expect to win the 100km. I won the race in 6:35:41. Also, I ran 5 times at Comrades in South Africa (though I didn't complete all 5 of those runs!)
UM: You've been running well for many years. How does your experience give you a competitive advantage. What motivates you to keep going?
Valmir: Throughout the years of competition, I've learned to persevere through those difficult moments and pains while racing. I love to persevere and meet new people. My love of running is the thing that makes me able to succeed.
UM: What does your average training schedule look like?
Valmir: I train on beaches as my base plan. My city is very hot and humid. I run 20- 25km every morning and afternoon (12-15 miles twice/ day). I do not cross train, only run.
UM: You've run all over the world in some classic events. Is there one that you still dream of competing in?
Valmir: I would love to run in Western States
UM: Where does ultrarunning take you, in your heart and mind?
Valmir: I adore running ultras for the love of distance. It works both in my heart, because I love it and in my head, because it is where I maintain my concentration through competition.
UM: What races have you planned for the rest of 2011?
Valmir: 100km in Passatore, Italy; 222km in India; 24 hours in Argentina; 100m in the Summer BOB, 100km in Bezana, Spain and a few others may come up. There could always be changes in the schedule. This year is very special for me, I will mark an amazing 20 year anniversary since my first world 100km competition in Passatore, Italy.
*Special thanks to Ana Morley for translating.