The sixth Soča Outdoor Festival attracted a record-breaking number of participants! The trail runs were attended by more than 1400 competitors from 11 countries including Slovenia, South Africa, Italy, Croatia, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Sweden and Poland. We are very pleased that more than 350 participants from Croatia attended the festival, and we expect this number to double up in the future since it was only this year that the Soča Outdoor Festival joined the Croatian trekking league (http://www.outdoor.hr/treking-liga).
Unfortunately, we had to close the registration as early as two weeks before the event. Although a notification about the possible early closing of the registration process was sent out a month in advance, many people were surprised at and displeased with not being able to participate in the competition. However, we will have to limit the registration in the future as well, not only because we would like to limit the pressure on the environment, but also because we can offer an optimal experience only to a certain number of participants on a specific trail at the given time. For this purpose, this year cameras were set at key points of the trail, and the analysis of the footage will serve as a basis for determining the capacity of trails and start time offsets.
A large crowd of trail runners poses certain organisational challenges that we will have to face in the future. The first major change which was introduced this year based on runners’ suggestions was a new route for the longest, 45 km long run. The decision to relocate the trail to the surrounding area of Tolmin, which allowed us to offer to the long-trail runners the same organisation, treatment and experience as to the rest, was approved and praised by numerous participants. Despite some terrain limitations, we wanted to offer a true trail experience at the end of the new route; however, the downhill part turned out to be too demanding, which is why many runners found it hard to finish the run within the set time limit. Based on the feedback, and from the organisational point of view, we would like to further develop the long trail based on the 25-km circle and find a solution for the above-mentioned trail section, which sadly spoiled the otherwise positive experience of the participants. With further improvements, we would like to satisfy even the most demanding runners and, the same as with short trails, offer a fun-packed and pleasant experience.
The following day, the same trail section was successfully beaten by duathlon competitors, who were satisfied with the first duathlon test. Since we have the opportunity to host the mountain bike racing on the Razor mountain pasture above Tolmin again after 4 years, we will continue to develop the duathlon discipline.
This year, we wanted, in a way, to reward the Soča Valley and its people for their hospitality, which is why we prepared and marked, together with our partner Continental Slovenija and the local community (local tourist organisation and Tolmin Municipality), the Tolminka running/trail route, which will be available to locals and other visitors 365 days in a year. The route will be properly maintained throughout the entire year.
None of this would have been possible without the support of our partners: Continental Slovenija, Adidas Terrex, Pekarna Pečjak, Ljubljanske mlekarne, ASA Naklo, Tolmin Municipality, Public Institute for Tourism – Soča Valley, and many others. Special thanks also goes to volunteers, firefighters, first responders, the Rescue service of Tolmin and all those who, once again, supported us in organising a safe and fun-packed festival in Tolmin.
In addition to running in nature and duathlon, the competition disciplines included standup paddleboarding (SUP) and speed gliding, while children had the opportunity to compete in running and Mini MTB marathon. Besides competing and cheering, as many as 3,000 visitors were able to attend yoga classes, engage in rock climbing, learn more about the outdoor freaks’ experiences and attend the two musical events held in Tropikana.
Since all results of both the runs and the duathlon are published online, we will only point out the winners of each race here. In the Continental 10-km trail run, the first woman to pass the final stretch was the flag bearer at the Soči Olympics, cross-country skier Vesna Fabjan, while Denis Guzelj was the winner in the men category. The winners of the adidas Terrex 15-km run, which most runners opt for, were Helena Gleđa and Peter Kastelic; in the Pure by Pečjak 25 km run the victory was earned by Mojca Koligar and Uroš Kožar, while the longest, 45-km long trail called Dukat Fit brought victory to Eva Kaplan and Aleš Debeljak.
The novelty of this year’s event was the Alpina Duathlon, a demanding combination of mountain biking and running. Federica Benacchio and Andrea Mauri were the fastest in the individuals’ group, while Martin and Simon Kranjec celebrated victory among the competing pairs.
The winners of SUP-er Soča Race were Federico Benettolo (OXBOW) and Ilaria Rochelli (STARBOARD). So here we also had international competition. Franc Peternel has won the speedgliding competition.
Congratulations to the winners and all participants! See you next year!