With over 1,800 runners at the starting lines in Vipava Valley this year, the new tracks inspired runners from all over the world
Between May 5 and 7, 2023, the 8th Ultra Trail Vipava Valley I Feel Slovenia took place in Vipava Valley, and the record participation of 1,800 runners and hikers conjured up a true celebration of outdoor sports.
On Friday, May 5, Ajdovščina became the host of one of the biggest ultra-trail running events in Slovenia. Competitors competed in 6 competitive distances – Emperor 170 km (6,400 vm), Centurion 110 km (4,500 vm), Gladiator 60 km (2,400 vm), Legionar 30 km (1,600 vm), Asterix 15 km (190 vm), Castra City Run 10 km (300 vm) and the non-competitive 11-km Obelix Hike & Wine hike (100 vm), where hikers and lovers of excellent Vipava cuisine could also taste the Vipava Valley wine and its specialities.
Ultra Trail Vipavska Valley I Feel Slovenia started on Friday, May 5, on the main square of the old Roman settlement of Castra, today known as the charming growing town of Ajdovščina. Seven well-marked trails ran along paths that cross Vipava River, lead through vineyards and the southern ridges of Vipava Hills, followed by an epic ascent to Nanos. There, the runners could see the view across the Julian Alps to the Adriatic Sea. When they had rested a bit with the descent towards Vipava, the next steep ascent was already waiting for them, which rewarded them with breath-taking views from the edge of the Trnovo plateau and the mighty Čaven. After the last descent, the routes then went past Lijak all the way to Sveta Gora above Nova Gorica, crossed the emerald Soča River and the state border at Trg Evropa, from where the route led them to Gorizia Castle in Italian Gorizia and then returned along the path to the monastery Kostanjevica back to Slovenia. By participating in the ultra-marathon test, the Municipality of Nova Gorica and the Municipality of Gorizia symbolically enter the events related to the European Capital of Culture, which both municipalities will host in 2025.
The main event of the 8th edition of the UTVV I Feel Slovenia took place for the first time this year in Ajdovščina, namely at the Police Sports Center.
With the start of the 11-km Castra City Run in the co-organization of the Ajdovščina Sports Institute, UTVV I Feel Slovenia 2023 began on Friday at 6:30 p.m. in Ajdovščina on Lavrič Square. Just a few minutes behind the first runners of the city run, 83 Emperors set off on the magnificent 171 km long route around Vipava Valley. The start of the 107-km distance, Centurion, took place on Friday at 10:30 p.m. also at Lavrič Square in Ajdovščina. 233 runners started their journey into the night under the light of the full moon.
On Saturday, May 6, at 7:00 a.m., 374 runners started the 60-km Gladiator race from the main square in Ajdovščina. A record of 739 runners set off at 9:00 a.m. towards the crest of Trnovo plateau for the 30-km Legionar test.
Followed by lovers of wine and local delicacies on Obelix’s hike, 80 hikers took part in a 11-km hike among the vineyards of Vipavski Križ. Lovers of excellent Vipava cuisine could enjoy the flavours and beauty of the natural and cultural heritage of the Paradise Valley.
The last start of the 15-km distance, Asterix, hosted 244 runners on a course with just under 200 meters of altitude on gravel paths around Ajdovščina.
On Saturday, May 6, after 12 hours, 57 minutes and 21 seconds, the first runner on the 107 km course ran into Ajdovščina and opened the finish arena. Matej Pečnik, a top runner from Koroška, Slovenia, completed just over 100 kilometres for the second time this year, last year he celebrated with 3rd place.
At the Centurion distance, Eva Urbanc celebrated in the women’s category with an excellent time of 15 hours and 4 minutes. She was followed by Nicol Guidolin in second place, followed by third-placed Paula Vrdoljak.
The Emperor’s 171 km distance was once again superbly won by the Slovenian champion, Anže Sobočan, with a time of 22 hours, 32 minutes. This year, local Andi Mamić ran into second place an hour and a half later to the applause of the home audience.
In the women’s competition, the Emperor title went to Austria. The incredible Esther Fellhofer completed the 171-kilometre course in a time of 24 hours and 33 minutes. Last year’s winner spent two hours more on the slightly changed course.
With an excellent time, Esther placed 4th among all competitors in the longest test.
This year, after 4 years, the title of Gladiator went to Janez Klančnik, with Marko Tratnik, the previous serial winner of this distance, they fought for minutes, sometimes seconds, for the entire 60 kilometres. Janez completed the test in 5 hours and 19 minutes, Marko reached the finish line a few minutes behind. The bronze went to Alberto Garbu from Italy, who was more than half an hour behind the first two.
In the women’s competition, top local runner Petra Tratnik celebrated again, sweeping the men’s competition in the absolute category. She reached the finish line in absolute third place, with a time of 5 hours and 58 minutes. She was followed by Italians Francesca Scribani in 2nd place and Erika Cecchel in 3rd.
Matej Letojne ran the 30-km Legionar distance in 2 hours and 50 minutes, followed by last year’s winner Žan Žepič and Aleš Svetina a few seconds later.
In the women’s category, Lucija Krkoč, a local from the running club ŠD Nanos Podnanos, won. Ahe ran ahead of the German Michelle Hassel and the Slovenian Maja Laznik.
The shortest distance, 15 km Asterix, was won by Vili Črv in the men’s competition, who ran to the finish line in just under 55 minutes, while the best among women was Maruša Cijan Brkič with a time of 1 hour, 10 minutes.
The entire event could be followed via a live broadcast on the organizer’s FB page.
A rich accompanying program during the mountain ultramarathon
One of the most demanding running events in Slovenia, which combines trail and city running competitions and encourages hiking and running in nature, also had a rich accompanying program.
Many local associations and more than 400 volunteers provided music and cheering along the track, food, and drinks at as many as 18 aid stations. UTVV I Feel Slovenia includes the cooperation of six municipalities (Vipava, Ajdovščina, Nova Gorica, Comune di Gorizia, Renče-Vogrsko, Miren-Kostanjevica), two tourism institutes (Public Tourism Institute Nova Gorica and Vipava Valley and Public Tourism Institute Miren-Kras) and twenty local associations, where the main event was hosted by the Municipality of Ajdovščina with the beginning of the expo event in the Police Sports Center on Thursday, May 4 at 4:00 p.m.
Winemakers and restaurateurs from villages along the entire UTVV I Feel Slovenia route were included in the accompanying program. As a prestigious wine destination, the Vipava Valley has proven itself in the idyllic village on the hill above the Valley, Vipavski Križ, which is one of the most beautiful historical and cultural monuments in Slovenia and is a completely protected settlement.
171 km, Emperor
1. Anže Sobočan (SI), 22h 32 min, 27 sec
2. Andi Mamić (SI), 24h 02 min, 23 sec
3. Johan Fernandez (FR), 24h, 24min, 36sec
1. Esther Fellhofer (AT), 24h, 33 min, 21 sec
2. Cornelia Oswald (AT), 26h, 24min, 40sec
3. Nataša Robnik (SI), 27h, 02 min, 34 sec
107 km, Centurion
1. Matej Pečnik (SI), 12h, 57 min, 21 sec
2. Anže Šenk (SI), 13h, 50 min 33 sec
3. Jan Batagelj (SI), 14h, 01 min, 38 sec
1. Eva Urbanc (SI), 15h, 04 min, 16 sec
2. Nicol Guidolin (IT), 15h, 21 min, 09 sec
3. Pavla Vrdoljak (HR), 16h, 16 min, 53 sec
60 km, Gladiator
1. Janez Klančnik (SI), 5h, 19 min, 47 sec
2. Marko Tratnik (SI), 5h, 24 min, 55 sec
3. Alberto Grabujo (IT), 6h, 02 min, 15 sec
1. Petra Tratnik (SI), 5h, 58 min, 41 sec
2. Francesca Scrabiani (IT), 7h 13 min, 10 sec
3. Erika Cecchel (SI), 7h 26 min, 53 sec
30 km, Legionar
1. Matej Letojne (SI), 2h, 50 min, 21 sec
2. Žan Žepič (SI), 2h, 52 min, 35 sec
3. Aleš Svetina (SI), 2h, 52 min, 52 sec
1. Lucija Krkoč (SI), 3h, 10 min, 47 sec
2. Michelle Hassel (DE), 3h, 35min, 56sec
3. Maja Laznik (SI), 3h, 44 min, 30 sec
13 km, Asterix
1. Vili Črv (SI), 54 min, 40 sec
2. Uroš Avgustinčič (SI), 54 min, 48 sec
3. Tomislav Bosnjak (AT), 59 min, 6 sec
1. Maruša Cijan Brkič (SI), 1h, 10 min, 20 sec
2. Monika Rudolf (SI), 1h, 12 min, 31 sec
3. Kristina Ipavec (SI), 1h, 15 min, 9 sec
10 km, Castra City Run
1. Jernej Šemrov (SI), 45 min, 45 sec
2. Jan Poropat (SI), 50 min, 27 sec
3. Uroš Pintar (SI), 54 min, 57 sec
1. Maruša Cijan Brkič (SI), 52 min, 4 sec
2. Julija Brus (SI), 57 min, 7 sec
3. Ewa Pasierbska (PL), 57 min, 47 sec