Give it up for Cynthia!
She is famous, she is notorious and you can’t imagine a Strong Viking without her. That can only be one person, the first obstacle of every run: Cynthia!
Which secrets lie behind this inexhaustible women? What is her story? We asked you what you wanted to know about her on Instagram. You can find the answers to these questions in this blog!
How did it all start?
You know me as Cynthia from the warming-up at Strong Viking. I am originally from Beuningen (a city in Gelderland, the Netherlands) and I have always had a big love for sports. I haven’t worked in sports my whole life. I started as a porcelain technician, I made dental crowns. At that time I was in a less good place in my life, I ended up with a depression. I had to ask myself what really made me happy. I ended up with sports, sports always made me happy. I started a new education to become an aerobics instructor and worked at a gym for seven years. Afterwards I worked at Vivelli for eleven years. With my new life in sports and motivating people I was very happy again. That time I was asked by Jan (CEO/Founder of Strong Viking) to do the Strong Viking warming-up because: ‘There is only one person who can hype up the people so extreme, that must be Cynthia!’
When did you give your first Strong Viking warming-up?
That has been a while, at the Water Edition 2014 I gave the very first Strong Viking warming-up. The original plan was to run that edition, I was actually training for it. Unfortunately I ended up with a wrist injury, but I kept on training carefully. Even on my holiday I did some training, but at the end of the holiday my injury acted up again. I definitely couldn’t run the Water Edition anymore. Giving a warming-up was definitely still possible. After that edition in 2014 it never stopped and from that moment on I did all the warming-ups in Netherlands and Belgium.
In all those years I have only missed one edition day. That was a Sunday of the Water Edition in Nijmegen. That Saturday I already had pains in my belly, but I kept on giving the warming-ups that day. At the end of the day I was still convinced that I would be giving the warming-up on Sunday. But that night the pain got so much worse, I had to give the call that I could not be there on Sunday… The pain was definitely real, I had appendicitis and got an operation that Sunday. Thankfully it stayed with this one edition and I never had to miss another edition.
Are there a lot of changes since your first Strong Viking edition?
Yes, a lot has changed! At the beginning people thought I was very strange with all my screaming. I saw them looking at me and thinking ‘What in the world is that?’ They were used to a guy giving the warming-up, but suddenly I was there! I think by now they have accepted me, because I always stayed true to myself. Everyone knows I am loud and crazy, that is just who I am…
The startwaves are bigger, more crowded and fun. At the start my warming-up was very long and I did exactly what I had studied before. Now I look at the people in the startwaves and try to feel their energy.
Sometimes I feel like a famous person now. I get recognized on the events, but also in my daily life! I will get a ‘Hey! You are thé Cynthia!’ I love getting those enthusiastic reactions!
How do you come up with the warming-up?
The enthusiastic people in the startwave really make my warming-up. I have a few standard exercises that I want to do in every warming-up. Next to that I improvise by feeling the energy of the people in the startwave. It doesn’t matter if the startwave is small or big, everyone has to start their run with the same amount of excitement. Sometimes the people in a small startwave are not very happy, not because it is a small startwave, but because I will go and stand between the people in the startwave and they definitely can’t escape me then.
How do you prepare yourself for a full day of Strong Viking warming-ups?
Don’t think, just go! I don’t look at the amount of warming-ups I have to give that day, that way I will keep my energy till the very last startwave. I make sure to start my day with a good breakfast with oatmeal. During the day I will eat little bits of bread. The most import part is drinking water, lots of water, liters water will be going through my throat during a Strong Viking day. In between the startwaves I have to make a lot of sprints to the bathroom.
Where do you get all that energy from?
Definitely from all the people and the vibe during the day. If I see another startwave slowly filling up with enthusiastic people that I can make even more enthusiastic, I get so excited! The total package of a day is amazing. Without you guys I definitely couldn’t keep my energy level during the whole day.
How did you get so strong?
I have been involved in sports since I was six years old. But I never sticked to just one sport, I tried almost everything. From majorette, badminton, American football, cheerleading and also fitness from when I was 17 years old. I just couldn’t choose, I liked everything. But especially motivating people makes me very happy and in the end that is why I ended up with Strong Viking.
How many Viking runs did you run yourself?
I almost don’t dare to say it…. But only one. At that time it was still the colour obstacle run in Nijmegen. But of course I have a very good excuse, because I am giving the warming-up at every edition! And even though you guys think that my energy is limitless, after fourty warming-ups in one weekend, even I don’t have the energy to conqueror an entire Strong Viking.
What gives you the ultimate Strong Viking feeling?
The ultimate Strong Viking feeling is definitely the first Mud Edition of the new season. Every year I am nervous again. It is just very exciting to start this new season filled with editions. After the winter it feels like a new start. Till the sound of the first beats of the warming-up I keep feeling my nerves, but after that I am fully ready and the nerves will go away.
How many times did you lose your voice during the season?
Actually this happens every year at that first Mud Edition. I think my voice has to get used to screaming two days in a row again. I think I start with a little bit too much enthusiasm every year again. This year the fun was definitely complete, my voice was definitely suffering. But it was not only my voice this time. We introduced a new hakka, which I accepted with a lot of energy, the end result were a lot of big bruises on my legs, which I had just beaten on my own legs.
Do you have any unforgettable moments?
There are a few moments that I will never forget. The first one is the very first finish of Pim Brouwers in 2016. Pim has a physical disability: cerebrale parese, also known as spasm and he sits in a wheelchair. Still he and his buddies managed to finish the Strong Viking. The moment he climbed the Walhalla steps the tears came into my eyes, it was an extremely emotional moment. What we didn’t know at that moment was that Pim would be finishing a lot of Strong Vikings in the future, to make it all complete he even finished an Iron Viking!
Another unforgettable moment is the moment that Jan Reijs (my boss and founder of Strong Viking) finished his first Iron Viking. His family stood on the Walhalla Steps waiting for him, this was also a very beautiful and emotional moment.
The last one, maybe not so big for others, but a very special personal moment for me. Was the moment someone asked me for my autograph for the first time. Two women really wanted my autograph on their arm. Totally crazy, but super awesome. At that time I realised what I did to people with my hysterical warming-ups. I am sorry, that is just me and that will never change.
Do we see you again next year at all our events?
YES! Definitely! I will be there for you guys in 2020 at all the events in the Netherlands and Belgium. I am totally ready, are you?