Szilvia Lubics of Hungary has won this year’s Spartathlon with an all time record for women. She ran 246 kilometers between Athens and Sparta in 28 hours, shaving an hour from her own record of two years before.
Q: Do you sometimes go to work running? [The distance between the village of Hahot where she lives and the town of Nagykanizsa, Zala county, where she works is about 20 km.]
A: Well, I do that sometimes but not often. My training sessions have other routes.
Q: You are a dentist with three children. How did you become a love of ultra running?
A: Running is an ideal sport for a family person. You can do it whenever you find someone to look after your kids. Two of my kids were small when I started running.
It’s always important to have a goal. Soon after I entered running, I decided to do a half marathon. Well, it took two months to do that. Then I and a lady friend of mine started to run in tandem for twelve hours. We were surprised how easily we could that. The first time I attempted to run for twenty-four hours was in 2010. That’s when I ran the Spartathlon for the first time.
That race has been held since 1982 as a tribute to an Athenian messenger who was sent to Sparta. You have to cover the distance between the Acropolis and the main square of Sparta in 36 hours.
Q: The next year you won that race. What’s the source of your talent?
A: That talent partly comes from the genetic setup. I have a fortunate muscle pattern and am not prone to injuries. But no one knew that before as I didn’t do any sport before.
Q: You only enter three contests that last for 24 hours or cover more than 200 km a year. Is that so because you want to avoid burnout?
A: If I want to preserve my competitive form, I cannot do more than three such contests yearly. True, last year there was a fourth one: that in Taipei. Minor contests do not count.
Q: The winner of a Spartathlon gets a few drops of the water of the Evratos River and an olive wreath (kotinos in Greek). What else?
A: That’s all we get. There is no money prize. Which means it’s a costly hobby.
Q: Ultra runners reach top form beyond the age of forty. Why is that so?
A: You have to mature to endure such stress over such a long time. You need self-knowledge and the ability to bear difficulties and keep them under control. Those devoting their lives to sport in their teens or twenty-plus years are unlikely to do such an extreme sport later. I was almost thirty when I started to run seriously.
Q: You regularly outrun men. How is that?
A: Internationally men that finish first run better times than women. True, in Hungary I often had better times than men. It’s just the way it happened.
Q: Did you wear your shirt with a Hungarian folk motif in your latest race? They say that’s your habit.
A: During the medals ceremony I was wearing a track suit in the Hungarian national colors. When in 2011 I first ran the Spartathlon I got a text message from a fellow runner: “Common Szilvia, show them how gutsy Hungarian women are!”
You know, proving how spunky Hungarians are is a strong motivation. Actually I was very tired on the last twenty kilometers. While running, I was singing the Hungarian anthem – I just wanted to hear that music while standing on the top of the rostrum. Back in 2011 I got so tired by the end the race that I couldn’t be present at the medals ceremony. They played the Hungarian anthem but I couldn’t hear it! After that I promised myself: that mustn’t happen again.
Translated by Budapest Telegraph