‘I’m really not a natural at this, but I like running’

| Rense Kuipers

It’s her second marathon, but it feels like her first. Sonia García Blanco, adjunct professor of Integrated Optical Systems, will be running the Enschede Marathon this Sunday. ‘I’m really not a natural at this.’

Update (15/04): she did it!

Sonia García Blanco completed the Enschede Marathon, in a time of 04:42:55.

She completed her first marathon in 2011 in her hometown Madrid. ‘That was such a long time ago, even before I had kids,’ she says. ‘The thing I remember most was that it was incredibly warm. And as a resident of Madrid, I was astonished that the city was hillier than I could have ever imagined.’


Her first challenge was to get to the starting line of the Enschede Marathon. ‘I’m a beginner without a standard training schedule, so I’m strictly following a training program from a book since December.’

García Blanco will be running the marathon together with her husband. Being highly disciplined and only incidentally not finishing a session, they have kept to their training schedule: steady and slow, interval training, up-tempo and long runs of a maximum of 32 kilometres.

Time limit

Why would they want to run 42 kilometres and 195 metres? ‘I love the challenge,’ says the researcher. ‘I’m really not a natural at this, but I like running. The marathon is a great opportunity to push my own limits, both physically and mentally. Even in training it’s a battle of perseverance, time consumption, motivation and lurking injuries. But I’m glad I can start this Sunday.’

The second challenge for García Blanco will be to finish the marathon. ‘The weather forecast looks good for running, so I don’t think that will be an issue. But I do think the strict time limit will play a part. Runners have five hours to complete the Enschede Marathon. In Madrid, it was six and a half hours. My time in Madrid? Five hours and six minutes. So it will be very tight.’


García Blanco says she is nervous about the race. ‘About everything, really. From what I have for breakfast to the psychology during the marathon. I know it will get really hard after 25 kilometres.’ So, her tactic will be to focus on waypoints. ‘I will run from water post to water post. Luckily our children will also be standing by to cheer us on.’ If she will be back in the lab on Monday? ‘I scheduled only one meeting, so that would be the only thing keeping me from a hopefully well-deserved rest.’