date: 03.11.2018

Many runners carry out their running ambitions firstly as road runners, but when they cross the line and go into the forest, the trail running completely overwhelmes them, because the nature gives them unique energy. Competitiveness is of course present at trail/ultra trail competitions, however there's also  a lot of encouragement among runners and it's not rare to run quite some kilometres together.
At the finish line there's always pure joy&passion and the runners congratulate each other mostly because they managed to conquer themselves.

We have asked famous slovenian trail runners who first started running as road runners and then found their love and passion in trail running, enjoy your reading!


Peter Macuh first became a road runner during the military services at the age of 19. He was mostly attracted to road marathons at the time and since then he had run all the Ljubljana marathons and many others. At the end of 80' the mountain marathon began to develop and he was immediately drawn in. To this day he's still a passionate trail runner, mostly ultra marathons, the 100k or rather 100 miles. As he likes to say, trails give him passion for running, soulmates to hang out with, pure happiness and a mind reset.


Toni Vencelj trained for many years on the road, mostly 10k and 21k. His biggest goal was to run the marathon under 2h and 30 min, which he missed three times only for a little.  He later shifted his trainings to longer distances with a purpose to run 100k on the road. And so it happened that he started to run more and more in the  forests and in the mountains and he unintendedly distanced himself from the asphalt. The excellent ultra trails resaults with distances as 100k or more gave him additional motivation. Toni says himself he was always competitive, on the road marathons as well as in trail marathons, but he claims that with trail running he suffers less injuries and time goes by faster.


Bojan Ambrožič began as a short distance road runner (for example Tek štirih srčnih mož okrog Bohinjskega jezera or Teki Gorenjskega pokala). His first mountain run happened by accident and ever since he is addicted to nature. At this time he takes part in longer and more demanding challenges for which he gained experince in the last decade. He feels great in the nature and running to him means an escape from everyday stress.


Jana Bratina firstly ran 10k at cross country competitions, she later added also the 21k distances. Regarding her enviroment running in the nature was something usual, so she always prefered trails over roads. Jana's great love are the mountains and running through and across them gives her a feeling of complete freedom.


Andrej Mederal has actually started running in nature when he climbed the forest paths and hills as a fitness base for training karate, which took place from autumn to spring. After ten years of sports, he worked as journalist at 3rd Marathon of Ljubljana when he decided: "I will run it the next year!" Andrej is proud to say that this year Ljubljana marathon was his 20th marathon. He also acknowledges that his love is, nevertheless, a mountain run and a walk in nature. In recent years, he has begun preparing and participating longer ultra races, where the main aim is personal pleasure, socializing and not the result at all. In this process he feels, so far, unknown energy from which he draws power for daily life. There are always rises and falls, and Andrej adheres to Trubar's thesis: "Stani inu ubstati / to live and survive"


Lucija Krkoč started running as a child in road races in Slovenia and Italy, from 5 km to 12 km. She continued with racing competitions and competed for the Olympic standard in the marathon and for national titles of 10 km and 21 km. She actually got familiar with a trail running in the beggining of her running carrier, coz she is living in a perfect place for trail running - Vipava Valley. She was later intorduced in mountain running races by her coach Edvin Kosovelj. Lucija now likes to choose between all running categories, road, trails and mountain running. But trail running is at the top of her agenda. She admittes that nature means a lot to her and long trail run in a pure and silent nature clean herself mentally and physically and so fulfill with a new energy after a busy days.

Katja Drobež always jokes to wake up when she was 30 years old. Until then, she didn't deal with any sport, she just studied and red. Her appetite for running quickly crawled under her skin and caused major personal transformation. After ten km runs, halfmarathons and marathons, there was also a longer distance, such as the European Road Ultra Marathon cup. Later, she went from the asphalt to the forest. The running, besides walking into the hills, became part of her life. She was going after a lack of time, and she was surprised that it was easy. The shoes and the heavy backpack were so replaced by the trails and running backpacks; instead of a sandwich, she took only a handful of nuts. That's how miles of trails are rapidly disappearing under her feet. Katja admits: " somewhere on those forest paths, I am lost in beautiful views, found my soul. I'm in love with the mountains." like she says, I don't train running, but I live it. Looking for beautiful mountain on the map is part of the routine and running after the summit is a an award. There are never enough trails, and no one is like previous one. The results are just a number that he forgets pretty fast. That's why there's never enough stories. The longer the distance, the more demanding the terrain, the heavier the weather conditions, the more epic they become. Katja describes his stories so beautifully that you easily get tears in the eyes, " every run is so beautiful for me, it's almost gaudy. Every day spent on trails, it's more beautiful to me than anyone else. Every new summit is more powerful than already conquered. Every new view is more breathtaking. Maybe everything outside of this doesn't even have much, maybe all this beauty comes from me. From the feelings of joy I experience when I'm part of nature. "


Renato Lešnik, after many marathons and half marathons, met a mountain marathon in Podbrdo, which immediately grew to his heart. Since then, he has been a multiple participant of GM4O - Gorski Maraton 4 Občin, Podbrdo Trail Running Festival, Ultra Trail Vipava Valley - Slovenia, and in 2012, as a member of the national team at the world championship in the mountain marathon in Switzerland. Today he is actively dealing with trail runs or simply by running in nature, because he says that this is the best recreation in which you are not burdened with results and time. He is very proud of his running group, "slow but bold", in which there are more than 20 runners and he is happy to prepare her for marathons and trail runs. He shares his own experience in organization of Tek treh vrhov / Corsa delle tre cime that have successfully completed last weekend. Renato is a man who, in addition to his own appetite, exchange experience and motivation for others means a lot. He has repeatedly advised that we must deal with that form of recreational sport, which makes u happier, and helps us to overcome everyday problems. His wish is Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc - UTMB, his motto "happy are those who have dreams; even happier are those who are willing to make this dreams come true" gives him always new energy.

You can follow Renato`s blog:

Ana Čufer grew up with sports since she comes from an active sport family. In Elementary School, she met with a road run, radio orientation and regular orientation and, of course, mountain run. The road run wasn`t attracted to her, and in this category, she was only in school and later high school. In College, she found out that trails are the best terrain for her, especially techincal terrains and demanding downhills. She likes to run in the nature like forest or mountains where she finds peace and disconnect herself with everyday life and where she can fill with positive energy and " play with terrain."


Alenka Pavc had a short history of road running, but she was ambitious from the beginning. She started the first longer race with a marathon on the 17th Ljubljanski maraton, and she has repeated it several times. After recovery due to injury in 2014, she got an advice for trail running by her colleague. This is how she appeared on the first trail race Najlepši in najtežji mali maraton in Slovenian alps and the same year did also GM4O - Gorski Maraton 4 Občin - Mountain Marathon in Podbrdo Trail Running Festival. Alenka tells she's got to know her bidy and abilities very well, so now she feels prepared to choose trail runs in range up to 100 miles. Though she has some ambition in the road runs too, but on ultra distances. Running in nature, away from civilization, means for her the greatest relaxation and pleasure. There is no better sound than the wind murmur in the tree crochets and the popping leaves under the feet in the autumn or the energy and freshness of the changing nature of the spring. All this fill her with the energy she needs in everyday life.

Matej Mato Hribar was looking for his limit and found in half marathon (1h25min). Ambition was aimed at overcoming his limits, especially speed limits. Since the mountains were written in his name (Hribar in slovene means highlander), he soon started "digging" in the woods and his closest mountains - Grintovci. The first real run in the woods, and the mountain runs were on the rock track and pulled towards st. Primožu, and some later Tek na Grintovec (2006). Today Matej Mato Hribar is preferred to expeditions on trail games offering a landscape in which he can truly enjoy. Perfection of the trails is important to him, with views, water springs and as less civilization as possible. If the trail race is well organized, there's no reason to be there at least once. In case he doesn't find it, then he has a lot of real trail runs not far from home.

Matej is aware that a man on this planet is just a guest, who reached the level that he has begun to harm the nature he has come from. If we continue with this pace of destruction of what gives us oxygen for life, and that will certainly happen, once all of us will be gone!

And what running in nature means to him " Natural movement, peace and solitude for thinking and observation. It means to show my mother nature that I'm at least a little worthy."


Simon Strnad has been doing sports since he was a kid. He always enjoyes the mountains, the hills, so mostly at height; where he runs or rides his bike. He likes to joke: " just to go higher, to the top; over and over again!" he has been always connected to nature and right in harmony with nature finds himself. This is also reflected today, because it is most likely to spend days outside the urban environment, in an untouched nature, where it can feel all the beauty of this world. The running in nature fills it with extra energy, which he still needs in a busy everyday. It also offers him motivation to find new challenges in life. He likes to attend trail runs, skyraces or mountain marathons. At this events, it is most important to him to hang out with runners who have a similar goal - enjoy the beauty of nature and to be active.


Petra Tratnik

The run took over me when I was a kid, but, except for school competitions, I was only dealing with it for recreation. My first race was the first Bubin run on Javornik, in 2005. Later, I was attending shorter runs in the home area, both mountain and road. I've been done a few polmaratonov, four years ago, a marathon. I was a little more dedicated to road during this period. I had no special expectations at the first marathon. But when time stopped at three hours and a few seconds, I set up a goal for the next year to run it under three hours. That wish came true.

My main step to longer mountain - trail runs and at the same time the first such test, was Ultra Trail Vipava Valley - Slovenia, two years ago, when I was on a 50 km distance. Since then, I have been more focused on the longer mountain running, in particular, because of nature, peace, silence, sights, terrain... Running in nature, in spite of everything, still represents pleasure and relaxation and gives me momentum and energy to overcome those less pleasant sides of life.

Petra Tratnik, 4th at the world cup in Premana - Italy 2017, holds the female record of UTVV50 from 2017 when she was absolutely 3rd in general, men and woman category.


Andi Mamić has been a proffesional football player in youth, in which the road run is a base. After his career, he was looking for a new passion for a while, and then he made a challenge - run a marathon. But, as he says, asphalt didn't trigger such a "hormonal response" as a run in nature. And Ultra Traili has "poisoned" him and today they're part of his lifestyle. Andi admits that ultra traili is his therapy, counterbalance of stress, tensions and information expansion that currently rule the world. Ultratrail taught him life's wisdom that he never runs from start to finish but from point to point; and sometimes the points are only one step away. It complements its search for challenges by exploring the boundaries of physical abilities: " During my long-term runs, my self-consciousness deepens, and new dimensions of perception of my body and spirit are discovered."

Miha Vidali ran all distances, from 5 km to the marathon at the road run. He was also impressed by the running, which lasted 6 or 8 hours. During a charity running event for Ruth Podgornik Reš, he wanted to overtake his first road 100, but the injury was stopped at 83 km. He met trail running in Slovenian trekking league. The races were difficult to navigate, and the track was run over a difficult terrains with as many altitudes as possible. During trail running he got a good base and, above all, enthusiasm for trail runs. Miha likes to choose a home ultra races with "soul", such as UTVV, Rasica trail and 100 miles of Istria. It is also attracted by the up-down runs, such as 8 hours of Slivnica and Valvazor's ultra. In the future, he is also interested in races in Italy, especially Dolomites. Miha admits that trail running is a part of his life: "running is relaxation, it cleans my mind and recharges the batteries for all the challenges that my life throws under my feet"!


Dejan Vukotič calls himself strongwilled Gorenjc (people from Slovenian north west province)! He has always been connected to the hills because he lives under the foot of the Kriška gora, which has been summited more than 2000 times, and even 357 times in one year. He is also the multiple winner of the challenge "Hero of the Kriška gora", in which you have to climb at the Kriška gora at least once a week. He likes to remember youthful years when he was a participant in major alpine expeditions in conquering the mountain peaks of Europe, South America, and the Himalayas in Asia. After active time in alpinism, he took some time for himself and created a family, and shortly after began to look for new challenges. He tested in road races from 10 to 42 km, but his picking of miles on the asphalt and measuring the seconds did not pose a challenge. He missed the connection with nature, which offers alpinism as well trail running. It takes every trail as a new expedition. The first 100 mile test in 2014, at the 100 miles of Istria, impressed him so much that he had already did it seven times. In 2016 he was given the opportunity to attend UTMB, but he was abandoned due to a disease of benign meningoencephalitis: "People are not aware of what can be lost because of a small animal, so I recommend vaccination to all. I was lucky, although during the illness I did not know how much 1 + 1, in the end, the recovery was quite fast and without any major consequences.« Dejan is aware that nature filles him with extra strength, so he soon did 100 miles on the DUT, followed by running over 100 miles of Istria, GM4O, UTVV and Skyrace Sudtirol. In 2017 he was on Tour de Geant (336km) but did not finish as expected and remains a goal for the future. He is proud of this year's UTMB successful finish. Dejan always "pops up" with humorous inputs to fill up with his batteries and batteries of co-runners: I am extremely well communicated in all languages, such as "hand-english". Trail is an adventure for me, exploring places and establishing new international relationships. I like to say, we are one great 'trail crazy family', whose common interest is to enjoy and discover »undiscovered« corners of our beautiful world."


Klara Bajec began her sporting career twelve years ago when she realized that the body needed to be put into action again. It started slowly, with five kilometers running and continued until she reached the 75 km long test at the Celje - Logarska Valley race. The triathlon period followed in which she competed at all distances. She likes new challenges, and she also did the Bohinj Triathlon of Steel. Three years ago, after friend`s suggestions, she got to know trail running and decided to try her even further. She applied for UTVV 100, which she also successfully completed. Since then, she is interested only in trail challenges. : "I prefer to choose a race which is not crowded; races for which I know that the configuration of the terrain will require from me maximum; running, on which it is necessary to stamp out the last atoms of power from my body if I want to achieve the goal. The sporting limit, which I would like to approach and meet, motivates me for new challenges. In which sport is going to happen, I do not know at the moment. "Clara says that she has met a great beauty in this sporting career and she is getting to know new people who are supporting and also changing her:" Running, walking or cycling in nature has been added to me a new quality of life. I am grateful that I am able to see the harmony of colours, to hear the bird's concert, to feel the wind in the hair and to taste the gifts that nature offers us. "


Boštjan Erjavšek Beli, at the age of 30, found out that it would be nice if he would change the seat and the car for some sport. He never even thought of sports before. So he began to walk to the nearby hill Saint Primož. Walking was also relieved by pain in the back, which was the result of a hernia surgery. He was surprised to find that he was quicker every day and hiking was getting easier. He started with road runs, for 5 km and then for ever longer distances. But soon he decided to run trails. The Kamnik saddle impressed him so much that he climbed it twice a day. He was attracted by mountain runs, and soon after also by ultra-trail distances. Last year, he successfully completed 100 Mile of Istria, and was impressed, despite minor health issues. This year, 100 miles have already done twice, again in Istria and in Dalmatia. Beli admits: "When I tasted this length, experiences of overcoming the vertical meters and and all this views; I became addicted and now I am barely waiting for a long-distance race. "

Follow this great athletes and experiece this feelings on your own - become a part of Ultra Trail Vipava Valley now!