What were your beginnings in the sports world?
"As a kid, I loved playing soccer, but I also loved biking. Around the age of 17, I started with running to improve my performance with the ball. The next year I tried running in the mountains. I immediately understood what my passion was and after my first trail running race, I never stopped.
Having to name some of the races you will never forget?
"2015 was a golden year for me, the last one before my injury. I finished second at the World Championships, bronze at the European Ski Mountaineering Championships. But when it comes to sporting performance, I am also very attached to my FKTs, I have records of ascent and descent on legendary mountains like Peña Santa, Teide and Posets."
And having to choose your favourite course?
"The race I love the most is the Travesera. It is one of the most challenging races in existence (74 kilometres with 13,000 meters of elevation gain, ed.) and where you not only have to show your running skills but also prove that you are a true mountaineer. More than a race, it's an adventure. The Picos de Europa are mountains with which I feel a real bond. Here I was born as a mountaineer and here I continue to find motivation".
A bad injury marked your career, how did you come out of it?
"My sporting career was going at its best, I was getting good results. Then a physical problem with my Achilles tendon: it was January 2016 when I got injured. It took me three years to get back to full fitness, it was a really hard time for me and still today my ankle very often hurts. I was able to reflect, but now I just want to make up for a lost time. Because the mountain remains the same but the way of seeing it is very different with each passing year."
Overcome the injury, today Manuel has a dream in the drawer?
"Right now I feel very good physically and, above all, happy. I really want to enjoy my passion: the mountains. Even better if with Zar, my dog who always accompanies me. I have many dreams, some more important and others less so, I've had the chance to think about them at length during the injury stop. But my mind is always steady and fixed there, I want to improve my time still on the Travesera".
You live in a remote location, how does that make you feel?
"In my life, the most important thing will always be time, I don't feel alone because I share it with those who make me feel good. Family and true friends: it is with these people that I share my life. And, of course, with my adventure partner Zar. In the background, there is the mountain, which over the years has given me hundreds of unforgettable moments and many more to live".
So, if you had to choose a definition for yourself, what would you say?
"My principles are always centred around simply being at peace with everything I do. I am a mountain man who loves to run as fast as I can. The day I am not at peace, it will be because I am no longer myself."