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Raúl Ortiz: athlete by day, baker by night
Mountain running

Raúl Ortiz: athlete by day, baker by night

Originally from Villanueva del Rosario, at the age of 40 he juggles his job as a baker in the early hours of the morning, with training and high-level competition at the end of his working day

Nacho Carmona

Malaga

Friday, 10 May 2024, 17:41

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Villanueva del Rosario has its own Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker or Clark Kent; superheroes or average citizens, depending on the situation. At the age of 40, local man Raúl Ortiz juggles his job as a baker at night, with high-level sport at the end of his workday - occasionally, he says, on one or two hours sleep. He played football until the age of 18, like almost all young boys, but he began running as it was his dad's hobby. It was then that he discovered that he had a supernatural talent, although he talks about it as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

"I began participating in popular races and I started to realise, I don't know why, that I was getting first place in my category, and I stood out." When asked about his agile speed, he struggles to find an answer: "I don't know why, if it's because of my background in football or something, but I was doing great," he says.

He has never stopped working, although sport started taking up more and more time in his life. Clubs began to notice his talent. "I was going to more and more of them. First I was at an athletics club set up by the town, where I stayed a few years, and then Gedysa Comarcal Antequera signed me," he says. He started competing and training in athletics, although with time he ended up discovering what today it is his favourite discipline: mountain running.

In 2015 he was proclaimed Spain's snow running champion, despite not having previously run in snow

"I was doing very well and I won a run or two," says Ortiz about this new beginning. Alpino Benalmádena, one of the leading mountain running clubs, noticed him and offered him a spot in the 2015 Spanish championships in Bilbao.

There was a time when he balanced both football and running, though he ended up committing to the latter. "It may not seem like it, but athletics was harder for me. I have fun on the mountain. I go up, I come down... I don't know why, but I like it more," he says. He continues to compete for the Benalmádena club.

Sacrifice

But his journey has not been without sacrifice. He had to leave his previous job, on building sites, because the working hours and physical demands that it entailed were incompatible with his training and competition.

"When I arrived from work I would have to do long runs up the mountain. Now I work at night, and it's hard, but it means I perform better," he says.

Raúl Ortiz sleeps in the afternoon, works at night and trains in the morning. A life turned upside down in order to do what is his passion. In races he is known as 'El Panadero' ('The Baker'), for obvious reasons.

As a humble person, he does not call himself an elite sportsman. "I don't want to be full of myself; I have my brands and some brands support me with clothes and trips, but I'm like anyone else."

Snow running

His achievements and adventures also have more curious stories behind them. He recalls in this interview how he became the Spanish snow running champion.

"The Spain team always takes four women and four men. They were missing one runner and I had never run in snow before. The coach offered me to try out because he told me that I was good at mountain running. That day I tried out the shoes. There are some that have spikes and others that are lighter. I didn't like the spiky ones and I told them that I wanted the lighter ones. The woman who was wearing them took them off and I put them on. I started running, running and running... And I won," he says.

"It was a great anecdote; I won having run in snow only once before and people didn't believe me." He also won a World Cup race in Cegama (Guipúzcoa), in the Basque Country - one of the best in the world. "They offered me a number if I finished in less than four hours," he says about that feat. And just like that one, there have been several more since.

Despite that, he admits he finds it complicated to juggle this with the bakery. He loses money when he misses work to compete, so he tries to participate in competitions with cash prizes for the winners. He says that his direct competitors are usually much younger than him and have a somewhat less busy life. "The other day I washed my face, perked up, and won a race without having slept."

Work, his priority

He has had the opportunity to fully dedicate himself to sport, although it is not something he contemplates. "I have been offered the opportunity to sign a one or two-year contract, but after that, what then? Do I stand still? I have two young boys."

Luckily, he says, his wife has a secure job, in administration, and supports him. His work-life balance is good: his wife is a sportswoman and occasionally trains with him.

"Sometimes I don't feel like going out to train and she tells me to put my trainers on and go train. If she didn't support me, it wouldn't be possible, because it's very difficult to balance sport, family and work."

Ortiz starts work at the bakery at two or three in the morning, except on Fridays, when he starts at eleven at night.

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