Cristina Saladrich Catàla won the women’s competition at the annual Campus Run last Wednesday. A very special victory for the Spanish master’s student.
© Cristina Saladrich Catála
‘I still cannot believe that it happened. Did it really happen?’ To Cristina Saladrich Catàla (26), it still feels unreal, even the day after. Wednesday, she won the women’s competition of the Campus Run with an exceptionally fast time: 5 km in 19.16 minutes, at an average speed of 15.58 km/h.
For Cristina, this victory is a milestone: the Campus Run was her first competition in almost three years. At home, in Barcelona, she used to run national competitions. ‘A few years ago, I had a breakdown – I became very badly injured in my knee, for which I had a surgery in 2016. It took ages to recover. Even when I started at Tartlétos here in February 2017, knee pain and shin splints were still keeping me from running to my full potential.’
Besides, Cristina experienced a lot of pressure to perform when she was still in Spain. ‘I really developed a love-hate relationship with running: I cannot live without it, but I had also created a mental blockage for competition.’ Finally, after having practiced for months at Tartlétos, building up her capacities again very slowly, she felt prepared for it. Just in time for the Campus Run.
Secret weapon from home
‘Yes, I was ready for it. It really felt like I was back on track.’ But what really made her win? Cristina had a secret weapon that flew in all the way from Barcelona. ‘My best friend, whom I always used to run with at home, was here for the race. When I felt like I was slipping away, after about 3 km, he encouraged me to push harder. “Come on Cristina, now we’re going to pass this guy. Okay, now keep focusing on your breath. You can do it.” Without him I would not have performed this well.’