WRITTEN BY Ferenc Szonyi | 30th May 2017

I’m known as the ‘race machine’ in the international triathlon community. This nickname was given to me by a friend who saw that only I was running the last few laps of a particularly difficult race, at a constant pace, in Mexico in 2008 while the other athletes were really tired. So he said I can run like a machine. This was only a year after I started running seriously in my life so you can reckon how serious I already was about this sport. I started late in life, but I have participated in many ultra events in the time since then. A year later, in 2009, is when I started exploring the worlds of the IUTA, or International Ultra Triathlon Association.

I have finished a total of 112 Ironman distances so far, which also includes 30 Ironman triathlons in 30 consecutive days, 20IM in 20 days and 10IM in 10 days. One Ironman requires you to finish 3.86k swim + 180.25k bicycle ride + 42.2k run. I have also completed the Race Across America – the toughest bike race in the world twice, in 2010 and 2012 and the Spartathlon (246 km) 3 times. Few of the other long-distance races that I have taken part in and finished includes the Milano-Sanremo (283 km), Vienna-Budapest (320 km), Jungle Ultra (230 km) in Amazon rain-forest in Peru and the 333 km category in the La-Ultra event in India in 2015.

I believe running has become a very important part of my life. It keeps me focused by becoming the sole purpose in my life, just as much as it keeps me disciplined and working hard towards upcoming events. The goal is different each time I run. Sometime I run just to get to the finish line, sometimes the victory becomes very important to me, and it’s also a great feeling to run with other people and share the camaraderie. I am more than 50 years of age, so my expectation is usually just to finish the hard races. At this stage for me, finishing is the same as winning.

However, I do train very hard for all my events. For the Great Himalayan Running Festival, the high-altitude conditions are a challenge of course. The lack of oxygen at 4000 metres above sea level will be a serious issue to handle, so will dehydration, so I will be prepared for this. I have been doing many cross exercises – cycling and swimming, trying to get into peak condition. I try and do up to 20 hours of training a week. I have also taken part in a couple of 100 kilometer races recently, as part of my preparation. 

To sign up, for the ultra-category of the Great Himalayan Running Festival is only for the ultimate adventurers. It will be very tough, and I know I will have to torture myself a little to finish, but in the end, it will all be worth it.