“I felt like collapsing from exhaustion each day but I quickly learned there was something amazing about pushing yourself to your limits.” – Gabriel Romero, 22, New York City (USA)
Photo: Pure happiness on his face as he crosses the finish line at the 2014 Rock ‘n Roll Half-Marathon in Los Angeles
At only 22 years old, Gabriel has already ran an ultra marathon (NYRR 60K) and he did that in 2012. So he was just 20 years old when he ran 60km. For those of you that don’t know, an ultra marathon is any distance more than a marathon (more than 26.2 miles or more than 42km). Running over 26 miles is definitely a test of your physical and mental capabilities but Gabriel is proof that it can be done.
Below is a an interview with Gabriel. These are his words and his running story.
When did you start running and why?
I discovered running my second year of high school. I was overweight and depressed and needed to improve my health. I first tried out for the basketball team but having never played sports before, I was awful and didn’t make the team. Next, I went to tryout for the swimming team, but as soon as I saw the Speedos we had to wear I walked out of the locker room. The track team was the only team left and there were no tryouts so I decided to join.
I’ll never forget the first few days, I felt like collapsing from exhaustion each day but I quickly learned there was something amazing about pushing yourself to your limits. I soon became hooked on the feeling running gave me. It all at once freed me from my realty and gave me hope that everything can and will be alright. It always brings me hope and inspiration.
What is your favourite distance to run?
Half Marathon, it’s just perfect to test speed and endurance. And great for sightseeing a new city while not feeling too exhausted after.
What has been your most memorable race so far?
The Grandfather Marathon in North Carolina. This race takes you to the top of Grandfather Mountain, and the day I did it, the roads were covered in thick fog. As I got closer to the top the skies cleared and I saw I was surrounded by mountains. I was in awe and humbled that my two legs had taken me to such a place. I was so happy, and that race really stuck with me. My family in North Carolina also helped support me and made it even more special.
Is there an athlete or person that inspires you?
Yes, there are a few people that inspire me. One such person is American ultrarunner Scott Jurek. I’m inspired by his willpower, dedication, and positive attitude. The first marathon I ran was a free marathon on Easter 2011 on a trail in the Bronx (N.Y.). I showed up (19 year old) not knowing what to expect but I just wanted to run a marathon. Anyways Scott just randomly showed up to run with us that day. At the time he had come from setting a new record in the 48 hour race. I didn’t know who he was at the time but now that I do I really appreciate that he made the time to run with us. I really admire that no matter how hard he works he always finds time to help out others.
What are your 2015 overall fitness or running goals?
In 2015, I plan to continue to work towards my goal I started in 2013 which is to be the first/youngest person to run a Half (13.1 Miles), Full (26.2 Miles) and Ultra-Marathon (more then 26.2) in all 50 States. I’d like to race in the furthest states in 2015 like Alaska and Hawaii. I was also blessed to get selected for 2015 Tokyo Marathon and Berlin Marathon so I’ll be working on a World Marathon Majors Goal as well.
Do you have a fun non-fitness related fact that you would like to share?
I love drawing and can draw any cartoon character.
As Gabriel prepares to travel the world next year (Japan and Germany) for marathon races, make sure to keep up with him on Instagram.