One of our best ultra marathon racer mountain and road races, triple winner on Stara mountain at 122km, on Fruška Gora 135km, race at 12h and 120km.
How long have you been training this particular type of sport?
I’ve been trail running for nearly eight years (since 2010) with breaks due to pregnancy.
Why trail run?
I also race road races, but once you start to run through the forest and mountains you immediately fall in love with it that happened to me, too. Since I’m running ultra distances (more than marathon distance of 42km) both mountain and road, somehow those road racing on the flat serves me to strengthen mentally and then I can easily overcome the life problems that are sometimes inevitable, and in the trail races I rest my head and enjoy connecting with nature. Frankly, the ultramarathoner (street races) who says he/she enjoys running 12, 24 or more hours in a circle like me does not tell the truth, because you spend so much time looking down to the floor, you remember every pebbles, every hole, watching the same tired people around you, it’s not that interesting, unlike the trail running where the landscape where you run is constantly changing.
How much is this type of running popular in your area?
At first, there are couple of races, now it’s much more developed and more and more people are interested in running through the mountains. When you run on Stara Mountain 360km in a row for three years in races there, or on Fruška Gora for hundreds of kilometers, you are quite familiar with these mountains, and then it’s normal that you want to see other mountains, so I ran a little in the neighborhood, in Bulgaria, Bosnia, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia and France. There are a lot of things outside of my region on a higher level, but I hope that better times are coming here.
How often do you train (types of training – light, distance, intervals, location)?
Due to pregnancy I did not run properly for 3 years, but I was very active walking and hiking everywhere. Now I’m training again and getting back to form and I run five times a week in different trainings, sections and intervals and a pace for an hour and a half, there are no hills in Batajnica where I live, which of course does not prevent me from loving and running in the mountains. I ride my bicycle on a trainer, when I have a break from running. The place I live in is very bad for every sport because of the lack of a safe run, bike or walk routes. We also do not have any green areas, so I can not enjoy while I run in the streets all the time making sure that some car does not strike me.
Tell us more about your most difficult race.
I belong to athletes who never give up at any price, but of course if there is some kind of injury, and I still have the reason to give up. I like to say that I have crossed and ended thousands of kilometers without giving up, because there were many very difficult moments when it was a close to give up and not finish the race, but nevertheless I kept up to the end every time. Except once, it’s always hard for me to talk about this race because it brings only bad feelings for me. This race is like a crown to all the trail races in the world, the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, to which I managed to qualify for and went there. The race is 167 km long, you run through three countries where the Alps are stretched and it is a high altitude difference that needs to be overcome in 48 hours. I run a hundred kilometers from the start and could not go any further, not because of injury, not because of lack of strength, but because of the pain in my soul because of the illness of one of my family members. With that pain, I went on the rampage and it disabled me to finish it, I simply sat on one of mountain peaks and cried. And every time I remember that I start to cry. Because for this race it takes a lot of kilometers to cross in some races to qualify, a lot of money to spend to just participate, and in the end it’s the dream of all of us trailer racers. It’s just a proof that I’m sluggish and fragile, and that this pain is overwhelming and unbearable and just paralyzes you and it can not be compared with some physical pain. To the surprise of the other participants from other countries, with whom I ran up until then and to whom I have been a role model and a positive and full-fledged leader, nothing could have influenced my decision to move on and finish the race.
Bad moments are frequent, I would point out the ultra on Ozren mountain in Bosnia. We should cover about a hundred kilometers in the mountain where the war was going on a long time ago and which was full of mine labels, totally unmarked, a lot of flaws in the organization and it was one of my first mountain ultras, so then I had less or no experience. There was the river stream into which we fall in really deep during the night, we were unfamiliar with the race route, we saw traces of wild boars and hear the wolfs howling, at that point I wanted to call my mom to say goodbye for life. Also, the ultra at Tara mountain, where we get into the house of a farmer because we get lost, he took us with his rifle in the right way saying that we are not even aware of the danger from the beasts because we get lost there, and there we crawl along the stream in a complete darkness after which we were terrified by huge white cows, which at that time seemed like some beasts.
There is no more happiness than when you see the finish line after twenty plus hours of running and climbing the mountains. Every finish line crossing has its own and special story, but I would still point out the 100 miles of Istra in Croatia, which I finished for 45h with Slobo, a friend of mine. It was an adventure for both of us, where after so many hours of running, we hallucinated and were scared by the bush, thinking that is a bear. All sorts of funny moments were there. When we saw and heard our friends in Umag on the finish line I run strait to them not the finish line, while Sloba swore both myself and him and the organizers. There is a video clip of our finish that I am especially fond of. Also, I was running with a friend in Slovenia for 500km, I was supporting him because he was running for those suffering from paralysis, that was the most beautiful and most engaging thing I experienced there in those days when those people who were suffering from this illness were following us and welcoming, moments full of tears, hugs and pain, will never be forgoten.
Motivation (when you need more and when you have too much)
I never had a problem with motivation, nor did I ever need motivation videos or posters. I am not in that phase, because the love for this sport is so strong that there is no need to motivate myself for racing or training. I would lie if I said that it was not happy when someone send me a message while I race or before the race, then of course I intensify a pace or if there is a nice guy on the track, of course I will try to follow him, because there is never too much motivation.
What are your goals?
I do not have specific goals or plans, only wishes. I would like to go back to the White Mountains (Alps) once and finished the race. I would like to run races in every neighboring country, I want to meet and enjoy their nature and mountains and, of course, to visit all the mountains in our beautiful country (Serbia) that so far I haven’t visited yet.
How much do you enjoy doing this sport?
I enjoy with all of my heart and with full lungs in trail running, I can not see any disadvantages in trail running but only advantages. It’s a very healthy and wonderful sport and if you have a good and modest friends, as I have, then travelling and races are very cheap, since we do not make problem where we eat and what we eat and share all the costs. It was the most beautiful thing ever when we slept in tents and ate cans by the fire, and once we take a bath in a Jacuzzi that was inside a church in Bosnia, which sounds incredible but true. All these are charms of Trail running and traveling.
Where do you get your will from?
I love life, I am grateful that I am healthy and that I can move freely and run, to engage in all sports, to enjoy what I do. I have an inexhaustible source of positive energy and will, when I am surrounded by friends like myself and dear people.
Tell us more about your nutrition?
I do not belong to runners who were couch potato until yesterday and in recent years began to deal with some sport. I’m running from a young age, I’m on the move, and I’ve never had a problem with excess pounds. I have always taken care of my diet, I consider my diet healthy, but I do not belong to vegans, vegetarians, frutarians or others. I eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, cereals, I’m not a fan of meat, but I eat it sometimes. I simply behave in accordance with my organism’s needs. I do not like any dietary supplements, proteins, energy drinks, chocolates. I joke and call them all chemistry, even if I understand those who consume it. I’m a bit old-fashioned and I think there are no healthier proteins than cheese, eggs, yoghurt. Breakfast is my favorite meal, for breakfast I eat millet, cereal, buckwheat, mixed with fruit and cinnamon, carob and tropical fruits. The simpler meal, the better and easier for a stomach. I have to admit I’m not a cooker and I’m far from a gourmet, which is great for the body line. I eat to little but I compensate this by eating at races. And it’s really the sweetest when, after a race, we all drink some cold beer to recover and rest. So everything is moderate and in accordance with the needs of the organism.
Have you suffered any injuries?
For more than 4,500km of racing, I did not have any injuries, not counting trainings, although I did not take much care about warm up and stretching before and after the race. So many times it happened that just after a long race we sit in the car and drive back home for hours and I went through all that without problems. I quickly regenerate and recover, which means a lot to me for ultra racing. Certainly I will now pay a little more attention to the approach to training and racing before and after.
The longest race and how was it?
The longest road ultra marathon was a race for 24h and my 194km, and the mountain is certainly 100 miles (167km) of Istra. This road ultra marathon was my first attempt at 24h and then I ran those 194km and I broke the previous record, but it is not official because we were running on a track without certificates. Certainly that was very difficult race for me, and 100 miles of Istra was difficult but interesting race in the company of my friend Sloba and our hallucinations, but we ended up cheerfully racing for 45h.