So why? you might ask, am I writing this blog? Well it's because one of my favorite events is back for it's 4th edition, the Jahorina Ultra Trail (see any familiar faces on the website???). Emir and I have participated in 2 of the 3 past editions. we had already committed to another race in 2015. In 2016 we ran the 125K. It was quite an adventure, nothing like any ultra we had ever run before. It didn't go exactly as we would have hoped, but we still ran about 110K and had an experience that we will never forget. Last year, 2017, we opted to run the two shorter distance races, one Saturday and one Sunday. We had the best time! We brought my sister and our two kids with us for the weekend and they loved it as well. It's still up in the air what 2018 will bring, but you better believe we will be there!
One of the things I love most about the Jahorina races is how committed the race directors are to making this event a great experience for the participants. Despite their best efforts, in 2016 some things happened that led to aid stations falling through and not the best conditions for runners safety. You can read more specific details here in my race report. However, Emir and I were asked for our input and feedback as were all the other runners. The RDs were watching and listening all weekend long so they knew there were issues and wanted us who actually were out there on the course to give suggestions. We were able to recognize these major changes as soon as the 2017 editions were announced. We also then saw first hand at the 2017 races all the big and little changes that were made. And we were asked again what we thought and if we would want them to make any other changes. It's just so refreshing to see a race so committed to the runners' safety and their enjoyment of the event.
The other thing I love most about this race is that it's in Bosnia. I've been traveling to Bosnia with Emir for 20 years now. It's such a beautiful country filled with beautiful people and I love seeing as much of it as I can. It also means so much to me as it's where my husband was born and it's a huge part of my children's history. I started running in 2010 and ran my first ever marathon in 2011 in Croatia. Ever since, I always wished Bosnia had running events. I've realized how much deeper you can get to know a place when you explore it by running. That's why when we saw the announcement about the first Jahorina, we were SO excited but also disappointed that we could not participate in that first edition especially since knowing Bosnia so well, we knew there was a good chance it might be the only edition. Lucky for us, it was not the only edition and despite all the political barriers that lie in Bosnia, it's still going stronger and better than ever. Running the 125K in 2016 gave me such an appreciation for life in parts of Bosnia that I had never explored. I also had never been to Jahorina or the other mountains surrounding Sarajevo which are beautiful places with such a rich history. Last year, we ran two of the shorter courses but we experienced parts of the mountains we had not seen the year before including running the ridge of Mount Trebevic and on the Olympic bobsled track which was a huge highlight. The race also gave us an opportunity to bring our children and my sister with us for a weekend getaway. Jahorina is just outside Sarajevo so we took the opportunity to show our family around this historic city. It was also the first time Emir and I had been back to Sarajevo in at least 13 years. This race is just another example of how running has enriched our lives and it makes me so happy that the RDs are so committed to keeping it going and making it the best they can.
Now for some details on this year's edition. There are 4 distances to choose from : 104 km, 69 km, 34 km and 14 km. With all the changes between 2016 to 2017, all of the courses now include amazing views, various olympic sites and well stocked aid stations. The 3 longer distances have ITRA and UTMB points. Don't let the short distance fool you, it is not easy! It actually may have been more difficult than the 34 km race but it was worth it. Some of the extras for doing any of the races are are gift vouchers for a panoramic sightseeing of Jahorina, a zip line flight on Ski centar "Ravna planina", and Alpine roller coaster ride at Sunnyland Trebević. We took a ride on the ski lift last year and it was awesome. Also I know most important is the beer and hot meal that is included after the races.
This event has really evolved into something special. It's a wonderful opportunity to explores places in Bosnia often missed by visitors. It's also a top notch running event that is quickly becoming popular with runners from over 200 countries. It's the perfect addition to any summer vacation trip.