From Venezuela to Ireland! Interview with Nino Zafra Tighe

Meet Nino on the Irish Trails

Meet Nino from Venezuela!

I am originally from Venezuela. My country was going through a hard economic & politic crisis. I was only 23 years old and I decided to come to Ireland to study English to expand my horizons. I chose Ireland because I had a friend who was working here and always mentioned how lovely Irish people were. So packed 2 suitcases of 23kg each and landed here in February 2014 with no English at all. I was terrified and I think by far is one of the craziest things I have ever done and sometimes I wonder why I did not do it earlier haha. 
Long short story, in 2015 I met who would become my future husband; just when I was undecided about what to do with my career (I am a lawyer back in Venezuela and I was doing multiple types of jobs, from home carer, receptionist and dog care). 
After I met him we started to make future plans together. He introduced me to the lovely mountains in Ireland. I always loved outdoor activities but sadly in my country it was not safe to be out walking. With him I discovered a face of Ireland I did not know until that time. I got into hill walking with him and his parents. 
I have been in Ireland now for 8 years and I have become a citizen and a tax consultant in the meantime, with an increasing love for ultra trail runs. I owe much of my love for this country to him and to the lovely Irish friends I have made during this time. Although I never forget where I come from, I love where I am now and I am pleased to know I have 2 countries that I can both equally call home. 

Tell us how you got into Trail Running?

I have done a lot of hiking in Ireland and I became passionate about the outdoors. I became a runner by pure accident as I got signed up for a race in the place I used to work to raise funds for charity and I used to live so close to Ticknock that I could go walking from my house to the top. I then challenged myself one day and decided I was trying to go running to the top so I started to hit the trails early in the morning before work until one morning I finally got there. Felt extremely happy and found I had so much fun at it that I wanted to explore more. I then discovered that I really love trail running.

How often do you hit the trails?

Almost every week – sometimes can be quiet difficult with work during the week and with the return to the offices can be a challenge but I make sure I hit them at least once a week.

Nino at Cumshingaun in Waterford

Are you following a specific training plan?

I am, I am at the moment training for a few trail races this year and I have been supported by Andrew More ‘Fitness Goose Run Club’ to help me to run injury free and to achieve my distance goals.

What are you training for at the moment?

I am training for a road marathon and the Waterville Trail Running Festival at the moment.

Nino at the 2022 Art O’Neill Challenge

What are your favourite trails in Ireland?

I love the Kerry Way. It was my 1st trail race event, where I met so many great friends and since then has a special meaning for me. I love the Ballyhoura mountains because it is close to where I live and the mucky parts are so much fun. The Wicklow Way is another of my favourite, scenic and it has so many good routes.

What are your favourite races in Ireland or abroad?

All races organised by the Irish Mountain Running Association are amazing. Those races are well organised and people are really nice. The Art O’Neill Challenge would be one of my favourite races. I learned so much from me and from other participants. The Kerry Way Ultra and The Galty mountain race would be another of my favourite races.

What running achievements are you most proud of?

I am proud to have finished the Art O’Neill Challenge and The Kerry Way Ultra Lite. Those 2 races were my main goals for a long time and I was happy to reach the finish line.

Do you have any personal advice you would like to share?

I would say to everyone that it does not matter what your pace is or what time it takes you to finish a race. Concentrate on your goals and go for it and above all, always smile and be proud of your achievements because not everyone is healthy enough or have a safe country to go out running. It will take time but it will all be worth it.

Have you any trail running stories you would like to share?

During the COVID-19 pandemic I moved to a town in county Cork where I did not know people at all. I used to go running on my own seeing groups of people running together. While doing the Kerry Way Ultra Lite I started talking to a group of people and shortly I discovered they were all from the town I now live. They were wondering how we not bumped into each other while running in our town. We then changed phone numbers and agreed to meet up. Since then we became really good friends and I now go to the tri club training sessions just to socialise and to meet up with them and the  new friends I have made. Therefore, the trails have not only allowed me to explore this country but also helped me to meet amazing people.

What is your favourite piece of gear/kit?

The backpack. It holds all my essentials and It is really comfortable.

If you could do any race on the planet, what would it be?

I would love to do the Dolomites Ultra Trail run someday and I know I will get there.

Comments are closed.