By Christian Friis - There are some athletes, when you read their bios you immediately get the feeling they are the embodiment of a typical XTERRA athlete.
Roberto Mandje is such an athlete. Born in Barcelona, Spain, Mandje is a world citizen having lived all over Europe and Africa before moving to the US with his mother in the 90's. He represented Equatorial Guinea at the 2004 Olympics (1500 meters), speaks four languages - Italian, Spanish, French and English - and continues to travel all over the world to participate in races.
Mandje won the XTERRA Lake Las Vegas 21K last year in his only second race at the half-marathon distance ever. When asked about the course Mandje replied, "It had been described as running on the moon and although I've never been to the moon, I'd have to say that it was an apt comparison."
"The course had sections where you felt like you were truly out there all alone while running through craters and in between valleys. I must say the last major climb of the course caught me off guard. It was ridiculously steep and at a point in the race where most people, at least me, are ready to be done. I certainly enjoyed the course and hope to race it again this year," said Mandje.
The 31-year-old walked away from Vegas with not only the victory, but also the course record (1:24:17).
"I enjoyed some of the solitude of that race vs some other courses where you've got spectators and fellow competitors," Mandje said.
Mandje placed fifth at the recent XTERRA World Championships on Oahu, then took some well-deserved time off. Now, he's back to training - Boulder weather permitting - and gearing up for 2014.
"Some of my favorites include Mount Sanitas, Chautauqua Park, Switzerland Trail and Wonderland Lake," Mandje says.
His 2014 schedule includes the Marathon World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark at the end of March, several half marathons and several XTERRA races culminating at XTERRA Nationals and Worlds.
"A typical training week for me (when fully into training) consist of a lot of running, gym work and cross training. Typical mileage could be between 90 - 120. I'll typically workout on Tuesday and Friday with a medium long run on Wednesday (90 - 105 mins) and a longer run on Sunday (120-130 mins). All other days are nice and easy recovery runs," said Mandje.
Mandje, who is married to Molly, is also an avid surfer, guitar player, computer programmer and a fan of FC Barcelona (the soccer club).
Follow along on all his adventures at http://robertomandje.com.