We bring you the third EASSUN interview in detail! This time we have Roberto Rebollo as our guest. A runner specialising in trail running who uses his passion to take on sporting challenges with the aim of giving greater visibility to certain areas.
Who is Roberto Rebollo?
An ordinary person with a great hobby: trail running. I love nature. I love the mountains and animals. Thanks to this sport, I have been able to combine these two things.
When did your love of trail running begin?
I have always been very sporty since I was a child, but after an illness that I have been suffering from for several years, I was recommended to lead a more active sporting life in order to deal with my problem. It was then that I decided to take up running, because it seemed to me to be something affordable and easy to do. This was in 2009, so I have been running for about 12 years now. .
What are the reasons why you do this and not other sports?
I'm not closed to any kind of sport. It is true that with trail running, I have found a very good balance by combining two of my biggest hobbies. What's more, I love it because it's my moment of disconnection, since I'm away from my day-to-day life. In fact, it's gotten to the point where I don't consider it just a sport, it's become a way of life.
If you had to define this sport in one word, what would it be?
It's very clear to me. In my case, I would define it with the word happiness.
How did you come up with the idea of doing solidarity challenges?
The idea came up during last year's confinement when all the races I was registered for started to fall through. To keep up my motivation and continue practising sport, I decided to do personal challenges, which I really wanted to do but couldn't due to lack of time. I gave it a try and thought that they could be used to give visibility to inflammatory bowel diseases such as, for example, Crohn's disease. .
What is this disease?
It is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease of autoimmune origin that can affect the entire digestive system, from the mouth to the anus. It can affect almost anyone. In this sense, the symptoms are difficult to detect, because each person may have different symptoms: weight loss, diarrhoea, vomiting, joint pain, skin lesions, etc.
What impact does it have on your daily life?
They are autoimmune diseases, which will be with us for the rest of our lives. At the moment, I have been under review for a long time. I have been on medication for a long time. Personally, what affects me most is fatigue, as there are mornings when I wake up with tremendous fatigue. Also, sometimes I have to go to the toilet many times in a day, although I can say that compared to other people I am quite well.
How do you prepare for challenges of this size?
Nowadays, I have a personal trainer who gives me all the training guidelines. On the other hand, I am always in contact with a nutritionist when I go to do ultras or major charity challenges. Basically, I train hard and mentally I try to be as strong as possible so that I can cope with those low moments that occur during challenges.
If you had to keep one memory from all your challenges, which one would it be?
Undoubtedly, I would stay with the night I spent in the last challenge on 10 October when I walked the 105 kilometres between Bilbao and Santander through the Camino de Santiago del Norte. It was a very hard night, in which it did not stop raining almost at any time and where all the clothes that I wore, fell short, as I had to put on wet clothes after everything I was wearing ran out. Those moments of doing a route of these dimensions mostly at night, running alone for 4pm, etc. In particular, I would highlight, above all, the moment of the rain, because I thought I couldn't go on any longer, I was about to throw it all away, but in the end I found strength from where I didn't even imagine there was any and I managed to do it.
And the most difficult moment?
It was during the challenge on 10 October, at around kilometre 70 or 80, I had a very strong mental and physical slump. I was completely alone. It was already daylight, first thing in the morning. That's when I practically said I couldn't go on. I thought for a moment about giving up the challenge, which was very complicated and I didn't see it as achievable. I started to feel a lot of pain in my legs, shins, knees, back. I had already covered quite a few kilometres, and on top of that I was completely wet.
What made you continue?
I got a message from an anonymous person who I didn't know at all, but who followed me on social networks. He sent me some words that made me very emotional and made me rethink the reasons why I was there. Thanks to what he said, I managed to turn the situation around and finish the challenge.
When are you planning a new challenge?
I've signed up for an ultra on 10 April. It's a 60-kilometre race with 3,500 positives, where I will run through the most beautiful mountains in Bizkaia, although we are waiting to be able to do it depending on the pandemic. Then, in July, I am organising another very interesting solidarity challenge with another guy.
What will it consist of?
The idea we have is to do the Camino de Vadiniense , a 200 km route between Cantabria and León, crossing the Picos de Europa. We want to do it in 3 days, more than 60 kilometres a day in self-sufficiency, that is to say, carrying all the necessary material with us. It will be a challenge in favour of nature, since, in this case, we will try to raise funds for planting trees in the country. There are still a lot of things to talk about and comment on, but that would be the main idea.
How important do you think props are to your performance?
It's a basic thing. A lot of training, races or, in my case, challenges, depend a lot on our physical condition, but having the necessary accessories for each moment is key.
What features do you value most?
Considering the type of sport I do, they are usually long mountain races, in which there is very little time to stand still. Therefore, comfort and the fact of being able to put on and take off any type of accessory quickly are two very important aspects. I also value the lightness of the product, as the lighter it is, the better.
Could you recommend a route that is not so well known?
There is a route in Cantabria called the Camino Lebaniego, which was one of the challenges I did last year. It's a pilgrimage route, let's say it's an extension of the Camino de Santiago. There are 72 kilometres of mountains with about 2,500 metres of positive difference in altitude, passing through some beautiful areas. A highly recommended place that can generally be done in three days. You're in contact with nature practically all the time, so it's a very beautiful route.
What are your goals for 2021?
Mainly to continue enjoying this wonderful sport and nature. I hope that my health will be with me throughout the year. We'll see if we can do the challenge in July, but for the moment, as things stand, we're going to enjoy what we have.