Scottish runner wins 100 Miles of Istria
Scottish runner Paul Giblin has triumphed in the demanding 100 miles of Istria UltraTrail race – and despite getting lost.
It took Paul, of Paisley, 21 hours, 6 minutes and 53 seconds to complete the race with a total elevation of gain of 7,210m.
Last year, he was third in the 100 Miles of Istria, which is the biggest race in Croatia and the CEE region.
Paul, a running coach and trainer, said: “The win felt good. However, at one point I go lost when I missed a turn and that cost me a lot of time, extra miles and at least seven places.
“I thought I had completely ruined my race by one mistake. So I had to put it behind me and make a positive decision about what to do.”
He ran hard for the next 90 minutes to get back into contention.
He said: “I was much happier when back in second place but the danger with that is always that you put too much into that unplanned effort at that stage of the race, so I had to live with that worry which I knew could affect me later in the race.”
100 Miles of Istra race
The Ultra is held on a beautiful peninsula at the heart of the Adriatic Sea. It took place from April 6 to 8 and headed from the coast to the mountains, including Ćićarija and Učka, and back.
The race is well known for its demands and includes many aspects of trail running, from sharp rocky trails on the east to mountain singletracks through forest-covered slopes of Central Istria.
More than 1,650 runners from 52 countries started the race, which is also part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour (UTWT).
Paul said: “The race is physically demanding, but the harder part is the mental work. The numerous climbs and descents throughout are as challenging mentally as they are physically.
“Even when you think you have completed all the big climbs in the race there are still some steep sections after 80 miles, before a seemingly endless flat trail to get to the finish line in Umag.”
It was two Croatian runners, Milan Budinski and Josip Stipčević, who pushed Paul at the start of the race. They stayed with the Scottish runner until Buzet, just after the half-way mark, where Paul showed his determination and took an unconquerable lead till the finish of the 100 miles (169km).
However, he said he still felt the second place runner at his heels. Paul added: “I felt like the runner in second place kept the pressure on right to the end, so I was never able to switch off and I had to ask many hard questions of myself.”
Italian runner Luca Moro finished 30 minutes after Paul in 21.36.32 and the third place was taken by Péter Gyurkó, of Hungary, in 21.50.53.
Adding to the strong competition, a significant part of the race course has been changed.
Race director Alen Paliska said: “We innovate our course a bit every year so that the competitors don’t get to comfortable with it. It should be both challenging and entertaining for the runners on the trail, so we sort of spiced up the challenging part.”
Paul said: “No race is the same and this year’s 100 miles of Istria qualifies in that category. The course was significantly more demanding than last year and I am glad I had such a strong competition as it brought out the best of me.”
Paul enjoyed some highs during the race. He said: “The race started at 5pm and we were in the mountains as the sun was setting. The sunsets on the Adriatic are incredible and the light was breath-taking as we raced towards the biggest climb on the course at around 1,400m.
“The support in and around the small villages was amazing, too. People were super excited to see the runners.”
Next for Paul is the Western States 100 in California. He said: “I’m hoping to better my fifth place of 2016. I head out next week and will race a couple of times as part of my training before the main event.”
Francesca’s fourth win
Francesca Canepa, of Italy, won her fourth gold at 100 miles of Istria and also set both a new PB and a new record time of the trail course. She finished in 22 hours, 49 minutes and 33 seconds, which was 35 minutes faster than last year.
Second home for the women was Slovene Katja Kegl Vencelj in 23.25.44 and the third, also from Slovenia, Klara Bajec in 27.20.12.
Three more Istra races
In addition to the 100 miles (169km) category, there were three other disciplines: 110km, 67km, 41km.
In the 110km race, Roberto Mastrotto of Italy (11:31:55) won the gold and set the new record time. The first woman was Kamila Głodowska (15:38:07), of Poland.
Ivan Hrastovec (5:37:32), of Slovenia, won the 67km race while Russian runner Anastasia Chelysheva (7:22:10) took the women’s title.
At the 41km trail race, first to finish was Matic Čačulovič (3:19:35), also of Slovenia, while the women’s gold went to Barbara Trunkelj (3:39:26), again, of Slovenia.