Record-breaking participation at the 11th I feel Slovenia Soča Outdoor festival

2,500 runners conquered Soča Outdoor trails

The eleventh I Feel Slovenia Soča Outdoor Festival set a new record last weekend, attracting 2,500 runners from 30 countries. This event, held from Friday to Sunday in the picturesque Soča Valley, not only promoted active outdoor living but also emphasized sustainability and inclusivity. In addition to the main festival, the Sonček Association organized a Parafestival, offering outdoor activities for those who usually do not have the opportunity, while participants raised funds to help with last year’s flood relief efforts in the Soča Valley.

Festival Overview and Attendance

This year’s festival, held at the beautiful confluence of the Soča and Tolminka rivers, brought a significant schedule change, with races spread over both Saturday and Sunday. This adjustment allowed for better management of participant flow and reduced congestion on the trails. Local runners made up 55% of the attendees, with notable participation from Croatia (29%), Italy, and Hungary. Impressively, the event achieved an almost equal gender ratio of 50:50, a unique feature in the region.

Increased Participation and Enhanced Atmosphere

“Building on last year’s success with 2,000 participants and an incredible festival-like atmosphere, we were excited to welcome even more runners this year,” said event organizer Sara Mavrič. “By extending the races to two days, we addressed participant feedback regarding trail congestion and improved the overall experience.”

Kolovrat Vertical Race: A New Challenge

This year introduced the Oshee Vertical race on Friday, where 54 runners tackled an intense 880-meter elevation gain over five kilometers. The race concluded at Kolovrat, an open-air museum with breathtaking views of the Julian Alps and the Gulf of Trieste. Luka Tavčar and Agata Majewska from Hungary emerged victorious, finishing in 48:07 and 56:03, respectively.

Saturday: Long-Distance Races

Saturday was dedicated to longer races. The 50 km I Feel Slovenia royal challenge took runners over scenic alpine pastures, with Klemen Štular winning in 5:20:00 and Nora Juhasz from Hungary finishing as the fastest woman in 5:50:23. In the 35 km race, Uroš Kožar and Katarina Pišotek finished first in their categories, while the 25 km race saw Nejc Uršič and Nina Gubanc triumph.

Sunday: Shorter Races

Sunday featured shorter races of 15, 10, and 5 kilometers, under ideal running conditions with cooler temperatures and overcast skies. The newly introduced 5 km race aimed to be more accessible for beginners, encouraging broader participation. Luka Manfreda and Julija Brus won the 5 km race, while Gergő Simák and Anja Mandeljc took top honors in the 10 km race. In the popular 15 km race, Miha Ličef and Tajda Tornič finished first.

Sustainability Efforts

Continuing its commitment to sustainability, the festival featured digital registrations, banned single-use cups at refreshment stations, promoted public transport, and encouraged ride-sharing. Jana Apih, overseeing sustainability, emphasized the event’s minimal environmental impact and the community’s acceptance of eco-friendly practices. The two-day race extension also helped reduce the impact on running trails and manage congestion.

Local Involvement and Community Support

The festival has been embraced by the local community, with participation from local businesses and officials. Mayor Alen Červ presented awards, and Deputy Mayor Tomaž Štenkler participated in the 10 km race. Peter Dakskobler, responsible for route marking, highlighted the festival’s dual role in attracting visitors while remaining a cherished local event.

Thank you to the competitors, participants, sports providers, volunteers, sponsors, and everyone who contributed to the festival’s success. 

See you next year!


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