The race was held in the small village of Zelezniki on the banks of the river Sora with the finish on the summit of Altemaver at a height of 5400 feet in the Skofa Loka mountains. The temperature at the start of the race was in excess of 30 degrees, making the uphill race, which had steel cables to assist on the steeper sections, even more challenging.
Newcastle AC’s Jim Patterson and defending World Over 70 Mountain Running Champion was first off to defend his title, 5 miles uphill lay in wait with over 2800 feet of climbing more than the height of Slieve Donard. Jim performed well in the oppressive heat and challenging terrain but was unable to hold of the young challenger from Italy Franco Valle, to finish in an excellent 2nd place. To add to his individual Silver, Jim also won Silver in the team event representing Great Britain.
Next to start from Newcastle AC’s was Deon McNeilly in the over 55 category also running the same shorter course as Jim finished in 9th position, Mourne Runners David Bell in the same over 55 race came home in 48th position.
The younger male runners compete on a longer course of 7 miles and 4000 feet of Climbing, similar height to Ben Nevis, Newcastle AC’s Eamon McCrickard was first to tackle the long course in the over 50 category, finishing in 24th position. Jack O’Hare started shortly after in the over 40 race, taking part in the championships for the first time, ran well to finish 25th.
Mourne Runners Willy John Brown finished 24th in the over 65 race. Two ladies took part from Northern Ireland both H&D regulars Lagan Valley’s Anne Sandford, finishing 11th in the over 50 race and Ballymena’s Gillian Wasson running very well in the over 40’s to take individual Bronze.
After the event there was time to enjoy Slovenia’s spectacular scenery and excellent hospitality, accommodation and food was all to a high standard and excellent value, making it a very worth while holiday destination for any one looking for a destination a little different.
Report by Deon McNeilly