Ok, you will probably ask why is this so important to know about Croatia? If you are not a runner this information will perhaps be unimportant, but still, news like this don`t come so often. So what about this?
Last weekend in Winschonten, small town in Netherlands, the IAU 100km World and European Championships took place. It is something that happens every year but this year`s championship was full of excitement for Croats. Our national ultra running team went there with 4 of 5 our best women. Yes, only five, because from 4 mil people that live in Croatia only this few running-lovers are crazy enough to run 100 km (or 24 hour race!)
If you compare Croatian team (women) with other fast national teams, Germany for example has more than 100 girls on the world 100km rank list, French team has 180 runners in this year, Italy 280 and Japan over 400! Yes, I`ll say it again – Croatia has only 5 – five. You can count the odds of winning anything but it is not all in the numbers but in the strength of the team.
This year it was 27th WC 100km and it was also European Championship. Those who follow ultra running races have already heard about some achievements of Croatian team in Doha this winter but the Netherlands surprized even their trainer Dragan Janković. So finally, after 21 years, Croatia won first medal in running competitions to be exact it was Marija Vrajić Trošić that came third and won bronze medal for Croatia on WC 100km and silver on EC 100km. But that`s not all! Besides single results there was also team championship, and our girls Veronika Jurišić and Antonija Orlić finished race with great running times and came overall 4th in the World and won third place in EC 100km. (You needed three team members to finish the race to rank as a team.) Unfortunately, always great Nikolina Šustić had an injury during the race and had to quit but this time it didn`t mater.
So that`s it? No, I have more!
- The winner Camille Heron ran her best race in the last 8 years (7:08:35), and this is the 4th best time in the history of 100km.
- It was the first time since the 100km races are held, that four women in one race ran under 7:30 hours.
- The race time of Marija Vrajić (7:27:11) is the new Croatian record and 15th time in the world. Only three times in the history this race time wasn`t enough for winning, and it was the first time that this result brought “only” third place.
So to finish this sport story. The first medal in running for Croatia won Branko Zorko in Helsinki in 1994. We have been waiting for 21 years to see our runners climb the throne again, and not less but on 100k ultra race!
Next time you hear about Croatia, remember that their girls can run, fast and far!
Croatian women ultra running team: Marija Vrajić Trošić, Nikolina Šustić, Veronika Jurišić, Antonija Orlić and Ingrid Nikolesić. Trainer: Dragan Janković and medical support dr. Pavao Vlahek.
We have great photos thanks to Goran Požek, photographer.
For more photos please visit the official Facebook pages of Atletski klub Sljeme (link to photogallery).