Following morning we took the 7 am bus to the start area in Puljane Eco Campus in order to pick up our start packages and race bibs, as well as to warm up on time. The organization was perfect! We were welcomed by good-spirited volunteers who gave us our start packages and showed us around that beautiful place. The temperature was on the rise and it was clear it was going to be a hot day. As more runners came to the start area, we could feel the vibrating atmosphere, always present before the race starts.
Sandra and I warmed up together with dear employees of Krka National Park, Doris Banić (who ran 5,5 kilometer race) and Paško Galić, trail runner, mountain lover and first-time half marathoner.
In the cheerful atmopshere, along with 406 other half marathoners, we started the adventure through intriguing landscape of Dalmatian inland. I was captivated by pitoresque villages of Nečven, Puljane and Čitluk and thrilled by support of the locals. As the ran along the race course, we passed 6 fuel stations. Everytime we passed one, I took a cup of water and a slice of orange. I didn’t mind the heat, nor the sun. I decided to accept weather conditions as they were and to adjust. Before reaching the turning point in Oklaj, on 11th kilometer, in my mind I checked the condition of my body. My legs didn’t feel heavy, I didn’t feel any tension in my arms, the rhythm seemed right, my breathing was calm – everythin felt just right. I knew that the race just begins after the 10th kilometer. From that point, all the way to the 18th kilometer, I ran fast through the intact nature. I saw many runners defeated by the harsh weather…And then, in front of me revealed itself the most magnificent part of the race – Krka canyon. For this one moment, the time stood still.
I didn’t have much time to enjoy the view, as I saw the downhill in front of me. This was the time to aplly everything our coaches in Trčaona taught us about running down the slope. I resisted the urge to speed up or break. I concentrated to keep my feet on the ground as short as possible, in order to maintain much needed energy for the ascent. As I reached the bottom of the canyon, I noticed many runners walking uphill…’It can’t be that hard’, I thought. But, my legs didn’t feel the same. ‘What did Tom teach me?’, ‘What would Maja do now?’, ‘What was Marko’s advice about this part of the race?’, the thoughts were running through my head. ‘All right, Katarina, shorten the gait, lean forward, push!!!’. I gave it three shots to start running uphill, but every time my legs refused obedience. Now I was looking in amazement at those few runners who somehow managed to keep running. In the end, I walked during that uphill kilometer, thinking about all the trail practices I didn’t attend lately due to Achilles tendinitis. What is missed, can’t be compensated…
After the ascent, I ran the following 2 kilometers as hard as I could in that moment. I passed by the ancient arches, remnants of an old building which was a part of Roman military camp, and crossed the finish line inside Burnum Amphitheatre. As soon as I found my friend Sandra in the finish area, we sat down in the shade and spent next few minutes laughing from pure joy and satisfaction. We did it! I ran 2:01:28, which isn’t the time I hoped for, but I know that next time will be better. I would like to congratulate winners and thank the volunteers for their help along the course.
Krka Half Marathon is an impeccably organized race which takes runners through magic landscapes of Dalmatian inland. It aslo requires good preparation, physical and mental, in order to conquer the hardest part of the race – crossing the Krka canyon. I strongly hope that organizers won’t change that part of the race course… As for me, I am 100 % sure that I’m coming back next year – and I plan to run up that hill! Until then, running and strength training in on the schedule… The next challenge waits for me in Zadar. Wings for Life is just aroung the corner!
Written by: Katarina Bekavac, Trčaona klub