Martins Zvidrins is a sky runner. He travels the world not to spend time on the beaches. He does it to participiate in world’s toughest running races, held in mountains and deserts, often exceeding 100 kilometers.
This is not only his hobbie, but also his way to show others, that everthing is possible. When Martins is back at home in Latvia he organizes outdoor adventure games and gives inspirational speeches.
I know Martins Zvidrins for few years already. And through this interview I want to introduce you with my friend, dedicated Latvian adventurer.
– Where you are now? And where you are heading next?
Right now I’m back at home in Riga, Latvia. But this autumn I want to return to Japan. To try and finish a race I once have already participated in – Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji (UTMF).
Few weeks ago I returned from Hong Kong or, as I like to call it, from the city of lights. My task there was to participate in a 100 kilometer mountain run. And I accomplished it in 18 hours.
Why Hong Kong? Why you chose to run there?
My target is to finish 10 world’s toughest trail running races from around the world – in China, Japan, America, Italy, France, Morocco, Canary Islands, Switzerland and Spain. Currently I have taken part in 5 from 10, finishing 4 of them.
Doing so I want to inspire people to follow their dreams. I want to show, that everything you can imagine can be done, but you need to fight for it.
– How it all started?
I had a computer game addiction. All my teenage years I spent playing computer games. And for that time it was the only thing that interested me. But then… one meeting changed everything. I realized, that time what we have is limited. And that’s us, who are in charge for it. That’s us, who can convert it into the most interesting stories, if we work on it.
I started to run, because I wanted to change. I wanted to become a better person. I run half marathons (21 km), then marathons, but then even marathons were not enough for me. And I started to look for more challenging races. That’s how I started to run trail running races in the mountains.
– For many of us marathon is a very tough run. But 3 or more marathons in a row, in mountains… How do you prepare for it?
The problem is that we want to compare. Mountain races or, as I like to call them, sky races are so beautiful and interesting, that you don’t even notice when you have already run 40 – 50 – 80 kilometers. Sun sets and sun rises, mountains around you dissapear in the fog, snow is snowing, but you just keep moving and don’t think about anything else.
That is the feeling that fulfills me. And when you are doing something you like, something that makes you smile, you can do it for incredibly long time without getting tired.
When preparing for mountain races I train my mind more than my body. And also I’m gathering all the information available. I analyze race maps, I read blogs of other runners, I go through all the pictures of the trail, I read about the climate there. This way I’m trying to predict what awaits me.
I’m arming myself with information. The more I know, the more confident I feel on the start line.
Of course, I train also my body. But let it stay a secret, how and what I do. Everything is in your head!
– For how long do you plan to continue doing it?
I will do it as long as it will make me happy. As long as it will make me smile and grow. I’m taking part in these races, because they fulfill me and make me very happy for a moment. I can’t even describe how good it feels. And I’m doing it also because I see that this way I can inspire others to fight for their dreams, even for the most unreal ones.
– Which has been the toughest race so far?
So far the most difficult race for me was the one going around mount Fuji in Japan, in 2013 (Ultra Trail Mount Fuji). Total distance was 161 kilometers long. But total elevation was 9600 meters, that equals to 33 climbs of the Eiffel Tower. Because of health problems I had to stop after 121 kilometers.
Just 40 kilometers before the finish line. That was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life.
– And what about the best moments?
The most beautiful moments are ones when you are alone in the mist, you are lost, watching sunset and sunrise above the clouds, and you are not thinking about anything else. There is only this moment here and now. You are running for 20 hours already, and then in this one moment you feel it – absolute happiness and joy.
You can’t describe how good is this feeling, but you need to work hard before you can enjoy it.
I will never forget that moment in the mountains above Gran Canaria. Sun has just set and there it was – far away from me I saw Teide volcano. There in heights person becomes real, mask falls and you fly.
– How these adventures and traveling has changed your world view?
The more I travel, the more I understand, how beautiful, clean and unique is our Latvia. And also I have understood, that our world is much more beautiful than we think of it. Before I would never think, that there are such landscapes seeing which you can’t do anything else but just look and smile. But that is how it happens. You can’t even imagine how amazing is the view of Fuji volcano in a full moon night.
– What is your recipe, how you find a time for all of this? Studies, work, trainings, competitions and all the events you take part.
We all have the right amount of time to do things we really want. The question is – how we are spending this time? What we are “buying” with our time? I try to spend as little time as possible on things like Facebook.
I wake up early, before the sun rises, at about 5 AM. To start a day before postmen do it.
– Where do you look for inspiration?
I read a lot of books about people, who have made adventurous journeys around the world in search for a purpose of life. I listen to stories of other people. We have a lot of inspiring people all around us, whom we do not notice in our daily rush because we are looking for inspiriation somewhere else, somewhere far away, between “celebrities”.
I would recommend everyone to stop for a moment, to sit down and think – what are the things you really want to do. What is that thing, that place or the way, where your heart is trying to take you. I have found it to be a place above the clouds. Find yours, and do not stop until you haven’t done it!
All pictures used in the article are taken by Reinis Bruvelis.
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they are traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On WeAreFromLatvia.com they share their experience and things learned along the way.