Have You ever heard about the 100 Miles of Istria – The Biggest Croatian Trail Race? Yes? No? Well, I have the luck to share my experience with this wonderful race in the heart of Istria in Croatia.
Due to the recent problem with anaemia, I was a bit afraid in how I would survive 42K of mountain race. Still, this special feeling of being a part of a great adventure, feeling of running in the sun toward the sea and crossing the final line was greater than my fear. Anyway, they say that we should not feed the fear wolf, so I dismissed that unpleasant feeling. This race is going to be a healing process for me. I knew that at the start.
Source of the image: istria100.
Even though 42K sounds big, it is actually a „peanut-race“ in comparison to 100 miles. I only have to run 42K (+1100 and -1250) with a time limit of 10 hours. For 100 miles you should run some 170K (+7120 and -7400) in a time limit of 48 hours. Peanut-race? It depends how you look at it. For me, 42K was a perfect challenge appropriate to my current state of body and mind 😉
Source of the image: istria100.
The start was in Motovun. Actually, below the Motovun hill, so yes, we started uphill. We laughed that even though it is uphill, we must run because we must look good on the photographs from the start. Therefore, I put my smile on the face and run these 500 metres of uphill road. A numberless stairs to the top and cheering of people on the read marked the first 1.3K of the race. The sun was high because the start was at 11:00. Weather? Perfect. Feeling? Being Happy because I can run, and I will run so long….
Motovun is a little city, or should we better call it a village in central Istria. It is on the top of the hill 270 metres above sea level with some 500 residents. In earlier times of its history, he was near one of the station of narrow railroad named Parenzana that ran from Trieste to Parenzo (1902-1935).
Source of the image: Parenzana.
The town of Motovun looks rather medieval with those amazing ancient entrance, paved road and old houses. The city is often connected with the legend about the giant Veli Jože.
Source of the image: istrianet.org.
According to the legend, in the time when Venetian Republic ruled over the Istria in the valley near the town of Motovun lived a special giant Jože. He was a servant until he went to Venice with his new Lord. Heavy storm on the sea destroyed the galley and many people died. Even a prisoner giant Ilija was hurt and before he died he told to Jože that he must be a free man and not let anyone to be his master. Our giant Jože decided to follow his advice and he returned home. He started to work and dig in the forest near the town Motovun. It was a strike of luck that he found the gold treasure during his work. Well, maybe it was not luck, because when other people heard about the gold they came to help him, but they also wanted a great piece of it. His former property owners also thought that they deserve this treasure for themselves. Famous Greed made a lot of trouble for this good giant, so he had to run away. Luckily, there was a helping hand. He found help from Civetta who was a leader of the serfs at that time and who divided the gold and gave the best piece of land to Jože. Coming back to Motovun Jože remembered the Ilija’s words, and decided to leave Civetta, Motovun, and this best piece of Land. He never came back. They said he became a free man 🙂
This run is maybe our way to be free, to leave everything behind us, to go through the storm of hard times and to finally find freedom in the end.
At the top of the hill, we made an ascent of only +148. Still, it was just a beginning of the race and more was to come. After the city came the long trail downhill. I left my legs run as much as I can and enjoyed the spring breeze. It was great. I have been here before, so it looked familiar, but also a somewhat new. I knew already that I would come back here again soon.
Crossing the bridge over river Mirna and the main road and making a number of beautiful photographs of the surroundings marked the end of the downhill running. Some 5K run was a head of me before the next ascent…before the next Istrian hill and town named Oprtalj. … to be continued….
Source of the images: my private collection 🙂