Wilderness and charm at Julian Alps by UTMB as record number of runners discover Slovenia’s sanctuary
With the trail running scene abuzz after the UTMB® World Series Finals in Chamonix last weekend, all eyes now turn to the Julian Alps Trail Run by UTMB® in Slovenia on 8-10th September. From the French Alps to the lesser known but no less mythical Julian Alps, over 2,400 runners are preparing to discover the beauty of the country, including Slovenia’s highest peak, Mount Triglav at 2,864m.
Promising the trail running adventure of a lifetime, runners will take on one of six distances as they discover the enchanting forests and wilderness of the Triglav National Park, the emerald waters at Soča Valley and the glacial-formed Lake Bled. With Running Stones the reward for all finishers in the 100M, 100K, 50K and 20K category races, many of the runners are sure to be inspired by the incredible achievements at Dacia UTMB® Mont-Blanc last week.
Race Director, Luka Hren said, “We are extremely satisfied with the record number of registered participants and with the fact that the event is becoming one of the most recognizable in the wider region, with 70% of runners coming to experience Kranjska Gora from abroad.
“Runners will be able to discover the most authentic part of the Alps through trail running along one of the purest rivers, as well as enjoying breath-taking views of the fairy-tale and world-famous Lake Bled. There will also be numerous mountain views along the routes – so spectacular that runners will sometimes just want to stop, take a moment, and take it all in,” he added.
Cancelled last year due to bad weather, runners in the queen stage will take on the 170km course with 8000m+ of elevation, while those in the 100km /4400m+ Ultra Sky Trail event will be ready to test their legs against the times set last year by Slovenian winners, Jan Božič and Nina Frelih.
Having won the 170km race in 2021, before going on to race the 60km event barefoot in 2022, Ivan HRASTOVEC (SLO – UTMB Index 798) will be one to watch as he brings his experience and fearlessness to the trails once again in 2023.
“I will be targeting the 100-mile this year as I want to qualify for the UTMB® [World Series Finals] in 2024 and need to take one of the first three positions to qualify. I also want to improve my results from 2021,” he said.
When asked what makes the race so special, he added, “It is all the people behind it that make it so special. All the volunteers are excited to be there and care for us, greet us and cheer for us. It is also special because of the Julian mountains, and to have a race in Slovenia that is becoming so popular around the world!”
He will be joined by another of Slovenia’s best trail runners, Barbara JOLIČ (UTMB Index 688) who will take on the 100-mile race. Having finished third at Istria 100 by UTMB® in 2022, she is no stranger to performing over the distance but is yet to complete a 100-miler in 2023.
“This year my first big goal was the Trail Running World Championships in Innsbruck, a long trail course, but it didn’t go well for me, and I had a rough day out there. The Julian Alps Trail Run by UTMB is my second big race this year and I am eager to spend one long day on the trails. I am a little scared because I haven’t raced anything really long for a while now, but I am pretty sure I can find my way.
“This race covers one of the most beautiful areas in Slovenia, it goes all the way around Triglav National Park. It is close to home and a big challenge. I will be the happiest if I find myself in the flow on the trails, with the hours passing by and just being as effective as possible,” said Jolic.
Professional cross-country skier and Olympian, Vili ČRV (UTMB Index 746) will also be looking forward to finding the flow on the trails as he returns to the event after winning the 15km Speed Trail back-to-back in 2021 and 2022. This year, he will be stepping up to take on the Sky Race and test himself over the longer 25km distance.