Renata Martini Poetzl
Renata first ran the Via Dolorosa Trail Marathon in 2019 and is back to run it in 2020. She also has taken on a more active role volunteering her time in pre race preparations. Recently she joined other Via runners on a one day excursion/mission to serve those experiencing homelessness. Renata collected items from friends such as socks, hats, gloves, coats, food gift cards and headed down to Chicago where she ran 10 miles in the Loop ministering to those on the street, praying with them, bringing gifts and encouragement.
1. How long have you been running?
2. How did you get started?
My office was doing a weight loss challenge so I decided to start exercising. I went for a run during my lunch break and made it about 2 minutes before I had to walk. It was so hard, but I really enjoy a challenge, so I was determined. My friend and neighbor was running half marathons at the time and told me I could totally run a half marathon. I didn’t even know what distance that was. At first I thought “that’s impossible”, but the seed was planted and I kept thinking about it. So I kept running and going further every time. I decided to accept the challenge and signed up for the Brewers Mini. It was my very first race and I loved every painful minute of it. I was hooked!
3. What is it about trail running that hooked you?
I ran my first trail race in Brazil in 2016 with my brother, but it was more of a hike. We didn’t train on trails and the elevation gain was insane! In 2017 I ran Ice Age 50 Half Marathon, again without training on trails, and it was horrible. I had high expectations of my pace, not realizing trails are much different than roads. I was upset with myself and decided to never run trails again. After running a couple marathons I wanted to go further, and since most ultras are on trails I decided to give it another try! Last year I met a wonderful group of people through Lighthouse Events and started joining their group trail runs on the weekends in Winter. They were so supportive and motivating. They made me see how fun trails can be. Once I let go of pace expectations I started loving the trails. Being out there in the woods with a group of friends became my therapy, my happy place. Being surrounded by nature brings me peace and joy.
4. How many times have you run the Via Dolorosa?
I ran Via for the first time this year.
5. You are returning for a second year. You must have had a good experience?
I absolutely loved the race. My favorite type of trail is technical single track, so Via is perfect for me! I loved seeing the Stations of the Cross along the way, it was really touching. Holy Hill is a very peaceful place, and being able to run there with friends was amazing. I love the small race feel, where you get to know people who share the same passion.
6. You're actively volunteering giving your time for the pre-race prepartations, why?
I am very appreciative of all the volunteers during a race. It takes a lot to put together a great event, so I volunteer when I can to give back to the running community. I love being involved, especially with this race. It has a special place in my heart.
7. Why is this race different?
I love the spirituality of this race. Being out on the trails gives me time to reflect on my life and my relationship with God. This race really brings that out. It gives running a new purpose.
8. In the time you've gotten involved has your seen yourself change as a runner, as a person?
Running in general has made me a better person. It relieves my stress and it makes me a better wife and mom. But becoming more involved with the trail running community through volunteering and running groups has changed me in ways I didn’t know were possible. I am a happier person. I see the positive in the hardest situations, and I get so much joy from helping others. I have made so many friends through running and I feel so blessed.