Roberto Mandj is Team Newton Running’s Top Elite Runner

RobMandje1Hello fellow Newton Running enthusiast, my name is Roberto Mandje and this is my first of what will hopefully be many more blog entries.

I’m a proud Newton Elite Athlete. I’m a distance runner and 2004 Athens Olympian in the 1500 meter event. I was born in Barcelona, Spain and compete internationally for Equatorial Guinea, where my mother was born. Over the past few months I have started to transition towards the longer distances and road races, with the goal of running my first marathon sometime in the fall of 2011.

Winning the 2010 Colorado State Cross Country Championship

This past fall, I raced distances from 5K to half marathon on surfaces ranging from roads to trails, including one very icy road race in Canada, aptly named, “Canada’s Toughest 10K” (which due to weather conditions was changed to 6.5K on the day). On December 11, I had the pleasure of competing in and winning my 3rd Colorado State Cross Country 12K Championship in nearby Aurora, Colorado.

The event was put on by the Road Runners Club of America and featured distances of 4 kilometer, 8 kilometer and 12 kilometer (the championship distance). The course was snow free for the first time in the three years I’ve been running it, but challenging none-the-less.  The multiple 4-kilometer loops featured sand, single-track trail, several stream crossings as well as well groomed soccer fields.

RobMandje2The starter’s gun went off a little bit after 10 a.m. with about 60 hearty cross-country fanatics rushing towards the bottleneck trailhead some 150 meters ahead, where I found myself comfortably in 3rd place.

The first “cross-country mile,” as race director Rob Fisher humorously described in the moments before the race started, was reached in 6 minutes! I knew then, that this race was probably going to be a lot longer than previously advertised.  I negotiated the first  stream crossing by jumping the entire gap and claimed the lead shortly before the mile mark.

I reached “two miles” (cross country miles of course) in 12 minutes and 32 seconds, and knew without a doubt that all hopes of a respectable time would be out the window. At that moment I just focused on staying relaxed and protecting my lead through the first of three laps.

I was fortunate this year to run away with the victory by well over 2 minutes. My final time was 47:28, with very little doubt that I covered WELL over 12 kilometers.  In year’s past I’ve battled with past Colorado University All-Americans and/or local Boulder-based elite runners belonging to different clubs. I was very cold and exhausted by the race’s end, and only then did I realize that extent of my lead.

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It was a great way to cap off my foray into the longer distances this past fall, and I’m eagerly looking forward to 2011, as I’ll look to make my marathon debut. Now I’m on a brief break from racing, and just training through the winter months in my trusted Sir Isaac’s for a fast half marathon in early 2011.