- 28 Oct 2013 8:00 AM
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