I ran 1200 kilometers and 50.000 vertical meters since January 25th in preparation for the race. My biggest week was 173 kilometers with 8200m vert. The second biggest was 155 kilometers with 7100m vert. My longest training run was 70 kilometers with 3000m vert. Most runs I did where in the 25k to 50k range. I never did specific speed work or intervalls. I did some body weight training and core exercises about three times a week. In the last 2 weeks leading up to the race I stopped drinking coffee or any other caffeinated drinks and cut down time on electronic devices such as smart phones and computers.
My race mindset
I think getting away from distractions forced through computers and the internet helped a lot for a clear head on race day. I never thought further than to the next aid station for the whole race. Sometimes I had this thoughts when I am there like 40 kilometers further this and that might happen but I always could catch those thoughts and bring me back in the present moment, which was thinking just to the next cp. I believe that saved me a lot of energy. I had no mental downs throughout the entire race. I stayed positive and smiled or placed little jokes towards volunteers, runners and people along the way. I always got smiles back and that´s a huge part when it comes to staying positive for such a long race.
The day before
After my DNF at 100 Miles of Istria 2015 I decided that I want to go back and give it another try this year. So there I was back in Umag after a solid 10 weeks of training (1200km/50.000vert) from the end of January on. This time I wanted to keep everything as simple as possible beforehand so I was happy that my parents joined me on the journey and delivered me right at the front entrance of the offical race hotel. The place held all amieties you can think of so I was not distracted by doing any chores other than making the way from my room to the restaurant and back. I took a short walk to the beach front in the evening, along the tennis courts, soccer fields and closed kiosks which are about to open when holliday season starts and when I am long gone.
On race morning I met Florian, a fellow runner from Austria and first timer at the race at breakfast. We talked trail for a while and wondered how much food we should eat before. We came to the conclusion that we should not stop eating before we get tired enough for a litte pre-race nap and so we did. At noon my parents picked us up to drive us the three kilometers to town where the race bus leaves for our start destination Labin. So the race course goes from Labin back to Umag 173 Kilometers through the heart of the Istrian peninsula.
At 04:00 pm the race starts. 250 anxious runners make their way through the old town of Labin and I bet I was not the only one surprised there because of the firmly new route through town. The pace was high and I felt like on a roller coaster up and down this very narrow channels in the middle of a herd of runners. I focused on the ground to not trip over staircases leading out of buildings. After that we followed single track down to the bay and a short stretch of asphalt along the harbour. It took a bit till I was settled and wondered why everybody is going so fast at the first 6km. From the first hill we could see the Ucka Mountains raising in the distance. The sea to the right, the mountains in the front I knew this is where I want to be. By arriving at the first check point I took time to cool down my legs and head a bit, refilled my bottles and grabbed half a banana. At this point I was probaply around 40th position. There where runners behind me who did not even stop at the first cp.
I saw them again later in the race 😉
Before cp2 30k in, the sun begann to set on the horizon, I was high on on a rocky plateau out of the forest. I caught up to many runners almost effortlessly. It was not dark yet but I decided to gear up with my headlamp so I dont have to stop for that later again in the dark. I love running at night. When it gets dark I feel like a hunter chasing down lights in the distance. When approaching other runners I always take time, I try to read there strides and see how the feel. By the time arriving the climb up Vojak the highest point of the race I felt really strong uphill so I caught about 20 runners up the steep trail. I knew I should not go to hard because it is still a long way to Umag but it felt really easy. The downhill to Poklon CP3 at 42k went smooth I ran it one time before and could remember a lot from last year even it was completely in the fog back than. Arriving at Poklon I began my aid station routine which goes like two cups of coke, half a banana, one salt pill and every now and then bread with nutella. While I ate volunteers refilled my bottles.
The next section was mostly on hilly forest trails where I tried to recover a bit, so I ran, walked and ate. I felt like I am stronger in the technical sections, at least they where easier for me than the long forest roads.
The last technical section down to Buzet went very well, I ran with an Italien runner, we chatted a bit and made our way to a hall in the town center together where the cp at 89k was. The atmosphere was good, I was not too tired, we high fived and after we got our dropbags handed everyone followed his own business. I had my peronin breakfast, a change of socks, shirt and headlamp, restocked on food and out I was again towards the next cp Hum. From Buzet on, most of the technical sections are over, the climbs still steep but short and all very runable terrain. I still felt good as day broke in, ran all flats parts and small uphills and downhills. My energy on the climbs was still good but I felt my legs a bit.
My parents crewed me on the last 30 kilometers so I met them for the first time in Motovun which was great and gave my extra energy to see them there. My dad handed me the supplies I needed from my bag, mum took care of my bottles and we parted ways again. From now on I had coconut water at every cp I saw them which was super good as the day got hotter and hotter. The last cp at kilometer 157 Buje was insight, there I would see my parents for the last time till the finish in Umag. I was still in good spirtis, I felt the heat a bit but I was definitely ready for the last 13 kilometers to the finish.
The last 10k felt the hardest I would say. It was super hot on those fields and the course zigzagged on never ending dirt roads. On the last 5 Kilometers two runners past me so I finished in Umag in 13th position overall. My main goal was to finish the course in under 24 hours so I was very happy with the outcome of my first 100 mile finish.
My stomach worked solid the entire time, I mostly ate gels, bananas and some oranges. I used Tailwind (love it), water, coke(from km40) and coconut water for hydration. I had one portion of Peronin at halfway. I regularly took salt and bcaa caps during the race.
I held my gear kit pretty basic, I loved the Hokas (Challenger ATR) on the rocky terrain and wore one pair the entire race. However as the distance and heat increased the toebox was a bit too narrow for my wide feet. So my toes where not happy during the end. I changed socks once. I used the Lupine Piko headlamp during the night and a lighter one from Petzl for the second half.