Tolmin, July 2, 2023 – In Tolmin and its surroundings, the tenth edition of the Soča Outdoor Festival hosted by I feel Slovenia took place between June 30 and July 2, which will go down in history as a record, as two thousand trail runners joined another 250 mountain bikers, 80 road bikers (on Sunday, July 25) and, as part of the Parafestival, another 300 physically challenged participants.

Trailruns in the Soča valley, from 10 to 50 kilometers long

The shortest trail run was the Continental 10 km, which led the runners along the Soča river, past Tolmin and through the Tolminka river gorge, and then through fields and villages back to Sotočje. Dino Grbič completed the course the fastest (00:55:06), while among the girls, Maruša Cijan Brkič (01:06:15). The largest number of competitors, more than 600, ran on the adidas Terrex 15 km with a climb to the Tolmin castle. The fastest runners were Luka Kovačič (01:02:09) and the Italian Simona Checcucci (01:18:47). The next run was Triglav 25 km, which included a climb to Mengore mountain on the other side of the Soča River. Janez Klančnik (01:54:02) and Agata Majewska from Poland (02:20:56) were the fastest. The Nissan X-Trail 35 km trail run with 1,500 meters of altitude led the competitors over three climbs (even past the lookout point on Senica). In this category, the absolute winner was Ana Čufer with a time of 03:17:16, and the first among men was Gašper Perše with a time of 03:19:41. This year, the I Feel Slovenia 50 km run was held for the first time, in which the participants ran across the Pretovč mountain, which was also the highest point of the run at 1,200 meters. Dimitri Chapelle (Slovenia, 04:53:49) and Anna Szocs (Hungary, 05:34:28) were the fastest on the challenging but beautiful course. It is noticeable that most of the best places are occupied by Slovenians, some are professional athletes, while many foreign guests attend the event to enjoy themselves and want to explore the Soča Valley for several days.

photo: Matevž Hribar

Runs at the Soča Outdoor Festival hosted by I feel Slovenia are unique due to the crossing of the Tolminka river right before the finish line. As many participants said, this refreshment is often the motivation for running across the sod and sedge through the beautiful nature of the Soča Valley. The youngest children were also taken care of – they tried their hand at the 500-meter long Čokolino children’s run; they even got real starting numbers and medals.

Welcome, cyclists

For the first time this year, a road bicycle race was also part of the festival, which took place between Kobarid and Kolovrat a week before the main event, on June 25. 90 cyclists tried their hand at the picturesque and challenging climb, which has already hosted the legendary Giro and the Tour of Slovenia. Sunday’s 35-kilometer mountain bike race Oshee MTB Marathon, which led from Tolmin through the village of Krn and up to Pretovč mountain, was also part of the festival. 250 male and female cyclists participated in two classes (owners of electric bicycles started separately). Separately from the competitors, 30 mums, dads, and aspiring young cyclists went on a guided family cycling trip along the new cycling path along the Soča River.

photo: Martin Fettich

Parafestival, the second time

Due to the excellent response, the Parafestival was also part of the event this year. Sotočje was visited by approximately 300 physically challenged people and their companions. They took part in a hike from Most na Soči to Tolmin and enjoyed various activities by and on the water. Stojan Mervič, manager of the Parafestival: “The response after last year’s Parafestival was so good that we immediately decided to continue. The number of physically challenged people who enjoyed rafting, rafting, hiking, climbing, and other activities increased even more. It’s really nice that we can hang out and that they are active according to their abilities. Boys and girls will be reminiscing for months to come.”

photo: Matevž Hribar

The first event of its kind with a zero carbon footprint

This year, the festival was designed as sustainably as possible: participants now already know that they have to bring their own cups to drink drinks at refreshment stations, that waste is separated, and that a vegan meal is also available for the competitors. This year, the organizers went one step further: upon registration, they collected voluntary contributions (one euro per participant) for the reforestation of the Karst affected by the fire.

photo: Žiga Koren

Statements by the organizers:

Jan Klavora, head of the festival: “We are overjoyed with the team. All week we were impatiently watching the weather forecast, it indicated rain for Saturday, but luckily the sky had mercy on us. The interest was exceptional this year, we limited the number of registrations for runs to 2,000 because more than that number of tracks in the vicinity of Tolmin simply cannot be handled in one day. The atmosphere was fantastic the whole time, from the start to the finish line and the evening party. The sight of happy runners coming through Tolminka pays off a whole year of work. Thank you to the participants for their trust, and a big thank you to all the volunteers, rescuers, firefighters, in short, to everyone who helped in any way. When we as locals invited others to enjoy nature in 2013, we did not think that the festival would become what it is. I think we can be proud of all the performances so far, and this year’s in particular.”

Peter Dakskobler, program manager: “For ten years we have been proving what can be done in our hometown. We know and feel that more and even better can be done – we just need more of us to come together. We have repeatedly shown that we can overcome obstacles, be it due to legislation or complications in the local environment. Competitors and locals alike say our festival is ‘the real thing’, but if we want to show more, we must come together. Everything requires a serious approach, the whole team must breathe as one.”Jana Apih, head of sustainability at the festival: “I’m really happy that we managed to take a step forward in the field of sustainability in every edition of the festival. This year, we ran applications entirely without printed paper, which saved approximately 14,000 sheets of paper, and instead of advertising flyers, we distributed a virtual gift bag to the participants, which they accessed via a QR code. It’s the small steps that make a big difference in the end. It makes me even happier when the participants praise us for our ideas. There are still many challenges with such a large event, but we promise to continue plowing the fallow in the field of sustainability. I can’t wait for the Soča Outdoor Festival 2024!”