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“My way of looking at the world is that for me it is a privilege to have disability as a companion in life.”

Many of the fans of this wonderful sport such as trail running who have stood at the start of some of the outstanding races will have seen Pol Makuri (La Paz, 1991) ready with his cane and his smile. When you talk to Makuri, you immediately notice his naturalness when explaining the functional diversity he has had since birth. In addition, he transmits positivity, without shying away from the reality of living with it. In this conversation he tells us about his sporting career and his next sporting goals. Whoever wants to know more about him can watch this documentary produced by Salomon Spain.

You were born in La Paz, Bolivia, because your parents, who are Catalan, worked there as aid workers, but when you were nine months old they returned to Catalonia?

Yes, actually when I was nine months old we came to Catalonia and I haven’t traveled there since. I really want to go and see the country where I was born, but I want to go without worrying about training and without thinking about a race. So, I keep this option for when I leave the high competition at home and I can make a mountain trip without the worries of the day to day sporting level.

Do you feel comfortable if you are presented as an athlete with functional diversity? For those who don’t know what it is, explain us what it is…

I was born with a hemiparesis on the right side that has been with me all my life. I am a person who has always lived it in a pleasant way, as if I didn’t have it. It is true that my parents and the society that has surrounded me has made it possible, I would even say that until I wanted to enter the world of cross-country skiing, I only knew two people with functional diversity. This was when I was 20 years old and it makes you think that for 20 years of your life you have lived a completely inclusive life, having a disability and you have been the one who wanted to enter that world.

You always emphasize this in a positive way?

It is a fact that I have always been very grateful for, because it has allowed me to get to know a very different reality to the one I was used to. But it is a reality that we can have next to home. I have been able to experience disability in first person and I have known impressive stories of overcoming, such as war wounded, affected by Chernobyl, motorcycle, car or work accidents, even with disabilities from birth like me. I am a person with a disability that has been with me all my life, I was born with it and it is not by accident. My way of seeing the world is that for me it is a privilege to have it as a companion in life.

Your first link with the sport was with cross-country skiing when you were a child…

My parents have always been passionate about the mountains. In summer we did a lot of mountain skiing and in winter my father, when he was younger, always did cross-country skiing and he wanted to instill it in the family. In winter, as it was a very familiar sport, we started this sport and we spent many years going skiing as a family on weekends. And then, my love for the mountains and wanting to spend many more hours in the mountains, made me enter the competitive world of cross-country skiing sooner or later. I changed in this case to cross-country skiing, but not at all to enter the competitive world. It was simply to improve technically to enjoy more of a sport that had accompanied me all my life. What happened is that I met a person with functional diversity, hemiparesis, and he told me that he went to a World Cup. And at that moment I said to myself: “If you have gone, I can go”. And from that moment on, my whole sporting career began. It is true that I had to make a living, because at that time there was no coach, athlete or club related to cross-country skiing and I had to start a project from scratch at the state level. I have enjoyed a lot, but also with many falls and stones on the way to reach the Paralympic Games.

And you can proudly explain that you have participated in a Paralympic Games, in Beijing 2022. What was the experience like?

Really, it was a spectacular experience, I entered inside a cloud and the Pol I knew of 31 years had never known that situation. And I would say that I have not yet assumed all that I lived in Beijing 2022. And I guess that until Italy Milano Cortina 2026, the body will not be aware of what I really did. And the funny thing is that my cross-country skiing career started when I was playing field hockey in an ordinary team and there was a moment, field hockey being a team sport with a lot of impact, when my body was no longer able to cope.

And when did you make the leap to trail running?

Actually I always started both sports around the same time, what happened is that trail running was always a secondary sport, as a pre-season to arrive in winter much more prepared and focused. Also because it separated seasons so that the body was very grateful, but I have focused on trail running simply because I’ve been working for 12 years to go to a Paralympic Games. You are aware that your disability is very complex at a sporting level and that it is very complicated to reach the next Olympics. You have to make a change of chip and see what the body is capable of giving us in trail running.

In trail running you have already competed in renowned races such as Buff Epic Trail, Comapedrosa Skyrace, Olla de Núria or races of the Golden Trail World Series as the mythical Zegama – Aizkorri. Do you feel that you are treated in a paternalistic way or on the contrary?

I have felt very well and in a very inclusive way. I have felt like one more, no one has doubted my way of running nor have they imposed any obstacles to compete in any international race like the Golden, Zegama or Comapedrosa. And no one has closed the doors on me. What has been curious is to observe how people reacted well to the fact that I competed. But, yes, there were people who were surprised by the simple fact of being lame and did some kilometers with you to see what happened with that athlete with a disability and how he moved in uphill, downhill and technical terrain. And that has been part of the learning and the journey. And it has been brutal, because somehow I think it has been a way of transmitting values.

In your future goals, do you have in mind to race in Chamonix?

Yes, I think that now the only international circuit I have left is the UTMB, and now I am thinking about training for the circuit. From what I understand they are making a Paralympic regulation for athletes with disabilities and they are just finishing it. The idea is to know what selection criteria they have or what they ask for to try to have a bib or to consider one type of race or another depending on the selection criteria.

Your next challenge is to run the Oman Desert MarathonWhat a change, from the initial snow to the desert!

It’s a very heavy change, but Albert Jorquera suggested it to me many months ago and I think these are opportunities that can’t be missed. I’m in a sporting moment in which the body is training a lot and is at its best. The 2023 has been a season focused only on trail running and it’s time to consider a challenge of these dimensions in a terrain in which I have not run, except for some training at home in sand. But I think it’s great to be able to be there and see what the body is capable of giving us or analyze it in these situations to draw very powerful conclusions or analysis.