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Meet the VMware Bulgaria Running Team

Today we are meeting you with VMware Running Team. It started in 2018 with 10 enthusiasts and now has 60 members bonded by a common passion to push themselves when there is no one else around. The team is open to everyone in the company who enjoys running.

The list of accomplishments is long. Here are some of them:

  • 3rd place for Todor Tsankov in Vitosha 100, 2018
  • Irena Prokopova is on the official ranglist of Bulgarian Athletic Federation (BFLA) athletes in 2020 with her marathon result
  • 1st place for Alexander Dimitrov on Pancharevo 21km run in 2022
  • 2nd place for Elena Stoyanova  and 3rd place for Vasil Chomakov on Techrun

The team has  1st, 2nd and 3rd places on Begach events such as Spring 360, Business run, Sofia Morning Run and TechRun throughout the years.

Why running? How did you get into running?

Irena Prokopova: The book ‘The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances’ summarized the reason for which I run. I have a bad relationship with food and running gives me the opportunity to eat my favorite food without feeling guilty all the time. Of course, it also gives me energy, and I feel great when I manage to finish a competition or run faster than I usually run. Progress makes me happy and motivates me to keep on running.
4 years ago I decided to join a running club and I ran my very first 5 kilometers ever. Neli Angelova, a colleague of mine was part of the team. She was doing some incredible non-human races and distances, and at the same time winning them… I was fascinated by the ability of the human body. Neli inspired me immensely. I thought ‘I want to be able to run 100km and survive’. So this is how it all started.

Irena Prokopova

Velina Krasteva: I started running in 2009, to spend time with friends at Akademik Stadium in Geo Milev. We installed the Endo-mondo app (before Strava got so popular) and competed with each other on longer distances. It was fun. Over the years, I have grown from a 5k-runner to marathon distances and ultras. Running gives me endorphins, happiness, and freedom. There is so much beauty and tranquility in nature – it can only be observed when doing long trail running, on a fresh Sunday morning on your own in the mountain. You can hear your thoughts. Some views bring special memories and can become lifetime experiences.

Velina Krasteva

Sibin Georgiev: I have always been into sports – tennis, squash, table tennis, badminton, cycling, table football, etc. Being “in motion” is an important part of my life. I started running for practical reasons – I wanted to improve my cardio and have a family it is fair to say that I didn’t have much time to invest in one more sport. The idea of putting on your sneakers and going out for a quick workout really suited me.

Sibin Georgiev

Rositsa Rhuzheva: A close friend of mine who is a trail runner invited me for his weekend run through one of Sofia’s parks. I was not particularly enthusiastic as my only running experience until this moment was running for the bus. We started running slowly through the park and talking the whole time. At some point, he told me that we ran 15 km. Ever since I was hooked.

Branislav Abadzhimarinov: I picked up running from my university roommate. His brother was an epic runner at the time and finished UTMB. My roommate had a goal to finish a full marathon. I was into karate back then so I had some aerobic endurance and decided to join because it sounded interesting. I managed to finish just a few minutes before the cut-off time. That was more than 10 years ago on my birthday. This started a tradition and almost every year I celebrate by doing the full or half marathon on the same route. Here is a picture of me at the finish line in 2019.

Branislav Abadzhimarinov

Alexander Dimitrov: Several things that I find as benefits: First it allows you to have your daily activity without any specific requirements in terms of equipment. Just running shoes and you are good to go. You can run while you are on vacation, while you travel, practically everywhere.
Second it is time-efficient. I compare it with a bike ride or a hike where you need a couple of hours for meaningful training. With running you can be done in 30-45 mins.
Third it gives you personal time to reflect on your thoughts, listen a podcast or an audio book.

Alexander Dimitrov

Share a story from your running practice?

Irena Prokopova: In the beginning I was running once every 3-4 months when the company was organizing the team to join an event. So this wasn’t a real running routine. But then I decided that after an year with 4-5 runs I want ot do a marathon. I found a program on the internet and starting running from 4-5 times an year to 5 times a week. After 6 months of dedication to the program I finished my very first marathon for 3 hours and 47 minutes. I managed to accomplish several goals – become a runner, because prior to that I didn’t consider myself really running…; I finished the race without issues, And I finished it for less than 4 hours which was one of my hidden goals.

Branislav Abadzhimarinov: Once on the Batak Marathon I had to cross a dry dam. The problem was that a herd of horses was wandering free there. The detour to go around them was too long and off course so I decided to take my chances. Once I passed them they started running parallel to me and followed me to the edge of the dam where the route went back on a paved road. That was a pretty cool experience for me. When I got back to paved road I took a selfie with some of them.

What’s your running routine?

Sibin Georgiev: This is a big secret. But visiting the DoubleZero place is mandatory 😉 Then picking clothes that will fit my shoes of choice for that given day is also important.

Branislav Abadzhimarinov: All over the place and not much structure. Usually when there is some time opening and I feel like running I use the opportunity. Some examples are the 1st of January morning run or South Park night runs after 22:00.

Rositsa Rhuzheva: I do not have one. I am listening to what my body is “saying” to me.

Alexander Dimitrov: Warm-up, run, have a beer at the end.

Do you train with a special program for a competition?

Irena Prokopova: Yes, whenever I decide to sign up for a certain race I try to find a training program that will help me finish the race. I find information on the internet and start my practice. My goal usually is to finish the race without no issues or injuries. My training program helps me prepare for the distance and afterwards I recover really fast because of the good preparation.

Sibin Georgiev: Not really. I try to mix running activities with other sports like swimming and tennis. Nowadays I try to do some exercises at home to strengthen different muscle groups.

Branislav Abadzhimarinov: Not in a structured way. When there is a competition I try to adapt the runs to the competition. I do more climbs or more flats depending on the type of the competition route.”

Alexander Dimitrov: Yes. Usually 16-18 weeks for a structured program for marathon preparation. Rest of the year is mostly easy runs by feel.

Do you have a runner who inspires you and why?

Irena Prokopova: Neli Angelova. She is the one who inspired me to start running more than 5km at the first place. I admire her dedication to the training and when she runs she is fast, she is concentrated, she is quite often within the top 3 runners on the trail in long-distance competitions. I was fascinated by how someone can run day and night, never give up, and finish a competition. There are a lot of other great trail runners but she is the one who inspired me few years ago, and keeps inspiring me.

Sibin Georgiev: I don’t think I have a role model. I try to pick different things from different runners and those runners can be world stars like Kipchoge, local legends like Bozhidar Antonov, or even VMware BG legends like Alex Dimitrov.

Branislav Abadzhimarinov: Vasko Chomakov cause he is the fastest 😉

Alexander Dimitrov: Of course, the best distance runner of all times – Eliud Kipchoge.

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