|| From Desert Floors To Mountain Tops ||

Race Report: 100 Miles of Istria (100k)

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Earlier in the year Anders and I where writing back and forth looking for the right trailrace to participate in together.
He came up with 100 Miles of Istria which was held for the first time this year.
Since I knew Istria only from going on vacation with my parents as a child, it sounded really appealing to get to know the mountain areas spreading through the country.
So I picked up Anders and Gerald who signed up for the 100 miles distance and off we went. After spending a day at our apartment we drove down to Koromacno to pick up the bib numbers. Gerald was starting the 100 miles at 9 p.m. that day so he stayed at the finish area to catch the transfer bus to the start in Umag later. We enjoyed the nice warm weather down at the sea and later we looked for the trail which runs down from the mountains close to the finish. Later, Anders and I where driving back to the apartment, preparing for the race the next morning by looking at maps and profiles.
As always the night before the race felt like catching no sleep at all. My alarm clock woke us up at 3:20 a.m. since we had to catch the transfer bus leaving close to 5. Bus ride was kind of horrible with lots of construction work on the way to Buzet. I felt tired and somehow not too excited. We met Gerald who decided to quit here after 60km.
In Buzet around 120 runners gathered at the starting line. At 7 the race was on. Anders and I worked together from the first minute and found our pace really quick. Walking uphill, covering ground on the flats and descends. We reminded each other on not going too fast in the beginning because it is going to be a long day anyway. The terrain in the first half was already technical but ok to run in most parts. We got wonderful views along the way and where really excited to run together. Since Anders and I have not met since the end of the PCT two years ago, we had enough to talk so the time went by fast.
After 10 hours I was still wondering why there has not been a low point yet. Later in, we where thinking about a 16 hour finish time, since most of the long climbs are behind. Before we descended down to the Checkpoint at km 68, a runner from Slovenia told us we are around 10th position. This was very motivating because I had no idea where in the field we are.
What we did not expect was, that the terrain closer to the coast was getting much worse than in the beginning. Very hard to run on, especially with tired legs. A fall here would mean a serious injury. I crashed my toe into a rock once which felt like I twisted the nail of the toe. But I did not stop to look for it. Between Rabac and Labin the trail got very steep, they installed cables to make the way down possible. We had to climb over a waterfall to reach a checkpoint. A beautiful place but at this stage I was too tired to get out the camera for pictures. I really had to focus on every step I took. At the climb to Labin I felt really really tired. I knew that this point will come and I knew also how to go through and feel better again.
At the checkpoint in Labin I changed my socks again and fueled up for the last 20 km. We turned on our headlamps and off we where into the night. Twice we had to retrace our steps because we could not find the waymarkers anymore. We where ready to finish and kept pushing downhill, wondering when we will get to the dirt road which we knew from inspecting the trail the day before. After that dirtroad, we came down to the paved road, which lead us the last km into the finish in Koromacno. After close to 18 hours on our feet we where more than happy to be done and finishing 10th place overall. All in all, it was a great day and I am really happy about staying save and healthy along the way without having too many problems with fatigue or lack of motivation. The experience running through the mountains of Istria is something I dont want to miss. We endured.
Great organization and enthusiastic volunteers too!

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