170 kilometres and an elevation gain of 10,000 metres!

22 Sep 2019

100 km VipavaYes, this is exactly what awaited Renato Lešnik, the policeman of PPIU Nova Gorica, and 51-year-old IPA member. We met him in the middle of his preparations for the ‘Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc’, in which he would compete in August as the first Slovenian policeman to do so.

Renato has been running for 17 years, mostly long distances (21 and 42 km). In recent years, he has also completed several mountain running races and ultra trails. In 2012, he was a member of the Slovenian national team at the World Mountain Running Championships in Switzerland.

Moreover, he has already completed a 100 km long ultra trail (na Podbrdo) and the 100 miles of Istra, and also attended over 30 different mountain running events of distances from 20 to 70 kilometres. In January, he attended the 164 km long S1 Corsa della Bora race with an elevation gain of 6720 meters.

Not everyone can participate in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. ‘It is basically the Olympic Games of this sport, and it is already a magnificent achievement just to be standing at the start line’, says Renato. To attend the event, a runner needs 15 points and some luck with100 km Podbrdo the draw. Renato collected enough points through the races across Slovenia and abroad. However, each year there are around 25,000 people from all over the world applying for the race, and only 2,700 can start. Therefore, the applicants must also enter a draw. Renato had already applied twice for the race, but was not lucky until last year, when he finally succeeded. He will have 46.5 hours in which to finish the trail.

And how is he preparing for this demanding challenge? ‘Besides work, I run across the hills near Nova Gorica, Ajdovščina, Vipava, and Tolminsko. I usually run around 250 kilometres and overcome an elevation gain of at least 10,000 meters each month’.

At the race, he will be accompanied by a team of 6 members of the running group and his wife. ‘They can wait for me at certain points, but only one of them is allowed to go into the refreshment room and provide me with help, such as food, massage, and clothes’.

There is specific equipment that each participant needs to carry the whole time – enough liquid, a phone, waterproof jacket, pants and shirt, weighing at least 180 grams, and also first aid and two headlamps with additional batteries. The whole event can also be viewed online, as every competitor is equipped with a GPS tracker. ‘That way, the team always knows where I am and when will I be at certain checkpoints’.cilj 164 km S1

Renato also encourages others to run. ‘6 years ago, in Nova Gorica, some of my co-workers and friends asked me to share my numerous experiences in running, to guide them into the world of recreation. I have taken up the challenge and started training individuals who were previously not able to run even 500 meters.

Step by step, the transfer of my experience, and in particular the desire of socialising and being active lead us forward. By now, each of them has already accomplished distances ranging from 10 kilometres to a half-marathon, and four have run the full marathon distance’, he comments with pride. ‘We run under the name ‘Počasni, a drzni’ (‘Slow, but daring’). However, neither the speed, nor the time plays a role, but only the smiles and happiness on our faces’.

Anita Kovačič, IPA Slovenia