Sporting spotlight: Ana Barroso Donate

Published: 23 February 2024 at 12:18

Three women in running clothes standing at a finish line with a banner

MSc Psychology student and aspiring professional trail runner Ana talks about her success on the Grand Prix Gijón Trail.

Name: Ana Barroso Donate

Staff, student, or alumni: Student

Course: MSc Psychology

Faculty/Service: Faculty of Science and Engineering

In your own words, tell us about your sporting achievement or upcoming challenge.

I am an aspiring professional trail runner dividing my time between Cambridge and my region Asturias in Spain, which is a heaven for trail runners.

I have been training hard over the winter to be as prepared as possible for the 2024 season, but until you start racing you can never be sure if the training has worked.

This February I did the first race of the season, which was the toughest challenge I have had yet, The Grand Prix Gijón Trail. This was a three-day stage race consisting of 5km with 250m of elevation (Friday), 11km with 500m of elevation (Saturday) and 26km with 1,300m of elevation (Sunday), where the runner with the fastest accumulative time was the overall winner of the stage race.

How did it go?

I was apprehensive at the start when I saw last year’s winner was on the start list, but remained confident I can prove myself. I finished the first stage ahead of last year’s winner by over two minutes, and was beginning to feel confident in myself.

On the Saturday my legs felt good, and I was ready to increase my lead. I won stage two and increased my lead by over four minutes.

But when I woke on Sunday, my legs were tired and was I experiencing stomach issues. With 26km still to race and a gap of just four minutes, I was worried I may not be able to keep the lead.

When stage three started, I was not feeling better and my stomach issues persisted, but so did I, so I decided (against my body´s will) to push on and gain more time.

After one of the toughest 26km of my life, I crossed the line and gained more time over second place – meaning I got the first place at the Grand Prix Gijon Trail.

I was incredibly happy and proud my hard work paid off and my season has started off better than I could have imagined. I look forward to the rest of the 2024 season, which will include my first ultra race (55K) in Andorra during the summer.

What would you say to someone to inspire them to follow in your sporty footsteps?

I would encourage people to pursue their goals, even if they might seem big or unachievable. At the end of the day, if you put the work, time, effort and are motivated to achieve it, it will be worth it.