Runner’s Story: Runner turned Race Director

Last updated: 06-Nov-18

By Luke Jarmey

Manu Pastor has been in love with running since school. From competing in the Oman Desert Raid to organising races at Global Limits, and now becoming Race Director for the new The Way of Legends – Burgos ultra stage race, it has been quite a journey. Luke Jarmey caught up with Manu to find out more.

Thanks for doing this Q&A with us Manu. It’s really great hearing about runners turned race directors, it shows a real passion for the sport and racing. We love it!

Q. First off, give us a little introduction about yourself; who is Manu Pastor?

A. I have been running since I was very young and I still love going for my daily runs. It makes me feel good and it is my hour of total freedom.

Q. How did you first get into running?

A. I´ve always liked running and I was lucky to have had a lot of encouragement and support when I was very young from my school environment and from my family.

Q. What distances did you compete initially and when did you decide to give ultra distance a go?

A. I began running cross country and track events at school and then in my adult life I started running trail and mountain marathons and ran my first ultra in 2004.

Q. I noticed your first stage race was in Oman. Which race was that and what was your first experience of a stage race like? Was it positive?

A. The 5th desert Oman Raid in November 2011 was my first stage race and I loved it. I knew straight away that I wanted to get involved in all aspects of this kind of race format. 

Q. So you’re heavily involved with the Global Limits races. Did you race them all before you started volunteering? If so, how did you find them? They’re certainly on a lot of ultra runners’ bucket lists!

A. I ran the first edition of the GlobalLimits Cambodia 2012 and the first edition of GlobalLimits Bhutan 2013 and I had such a fantastic experience I began volunteering for the races and then I ran the first edition of GlobalLimits Sri Lanka 2015. All three races are amazing experiences. They are all tough challenges, traversing beautiful countries and giving you a chance to live a profound cultural experience.

Q. Tell us a bit about your experiences in Bhutan? I’ve always been fascinated by the place, as its such a mysterious country with the strict visitor quotas. How much of the culture do you get to experience there as a racer?

A. Bhutan is an amazing country, one of the very few countries left with minimal western cultural interference. It has breath-taking landscape, authentic traditional architecture and the people are very friendly. The race gives you a unique opportunity to visit and experience the culture and people of this Himalayan kingdom that you would not get the chance if you travelled there as a normal tourist.

Q. You’ve gone from runner to volunteer to Course Director at Global Limits. How did that all come about? And how has your involvement in race organisation affected your own personal running? Do you still race yourself? 

A. It has all been a natural progression stemming from my desire to be part of this stage racing world and my love for adventure. I still run just as much as before and enjoy participating in a few races of different type’s very year.

Q. So now you’re the Race Director for the new The Way of Legends – Burgos Ultra Stage Race, how did that come about? Was that a natural progression from your involvement with Global Limits?

A. Exactly! It just seemed like the next logical move. And rather than finding another remote global location for a race, I thought I´d bring the stage race format to my home region. Burgos in Spain may not be exotic for someone from Madrid but it certainly is for someone from Madras, Manila or Manhattan.

Q. Tell us a bit about the race; the scenery looks incredible and I see there’s a very original and interesting historical concept to the race!

A. I want the race to be a unique experience so as to be able to compete in the already crowded stage race calendar. Thus I´ve gone for the fully catered format with comfortable camps with beds and hot showers after every stage and a very strong emphasis on the delicious food which our own chef will be preparing fresh for us all. The stages will be long and tough and very different between them. The whole race is placed in a historic context and apart from the breath taking scenery the course passes through many beautiful medieval villages and historic sites.

Q. What do you think will be the biggest challenges when organising this race for the first time?

A. The toughest part of organizing this type of event, especially for the first edition, is by far the marketing. Scouting the course and looking for possible camps and contacting the locals and getting the permits and building a team etc. is all fun, but trying to get sufficient runners to register to make the race a success is the real challenge.

Q. What sort of terrain will the runners encounter? And how experienced would you say they’d have to be to enter?

A. The race is set up with five successive stages of between 45 and 50 kilometres long. Every stage is very different, from a tough mountain stage with 2000m positive elevation gain along some rugged mountain trails to one very flat stage along a perfectly groomed forest trail. The last stage is just 13km to the Burgos Cathedral along the “Camino de Santiago”. Since the comfortable camps will permit a good recovery from day to day, I think this challenge is for anyone who has the right determination with or without experience in these types of events.

Q. Finally, race organization aside, have you got any personal races planned for 2016? If so, which ones can we expect to see you at?

A. I shall definitely run one or two stage races next year, probably Al-Andalus in Granada and some others, but I shall also be concentrating on the Spanish mountain running championships since I enter the veteran category for the first time next year.

Thank you Manu and best of luck for 2016 both as an organiser and as a runner!

Here are some more pieces for you to enjoy:

Yoga for runners: hip openers and stretchers
Kit review: Falke Hybrid insulated jacket

"They are all tough challenges, traversing beautiful countries and giving you a chance to live a profound cultural experience"

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