Cuban retro running athlete Wilfredo Diaz trains in Havana. AFP/Adalberto Roque
HAVANA - When it comes to going backwards, it's hard to beat Cuba.
Meet psychologist Wilfredo Diaz, the communist island's Yuri Gagarin of retro running -- the strange sport of reverse running.
Diaz is daring to take retro running where no man has reversed before -- competing against forward-facing runners in a half-marathon through Italy's jagged, towering and deadly dangerous Dolomite mountains.
The veteran has been running backwards for 32 years after reading about the sport in a Russian magazine before the collapse of communism.
And dangers of his latest challenge on Sunday do not worry him a jot.
"I am going to give my maximum for Cuba," he told AFP in a declaration worthy of Fidel Castro or even Che Guevara.
Cubans may be short of many creature comforts, but there is no shortage of humour, with one wag tweeting that Diaz should win easily.
"It's child's play for us, we've had decades of training" at going backwards, he joked.