Written by Peter Koraca - http://www.citytrailrunning.com

The ultra-marathon race through the most scenic parts of Istria – enchanting stone built villages, mystical woods, tera-rosa stained planes and airy hills with views stretching all the to the Adriatic sea.
The 100 Miles of Istria event happens every year (now for the third year) around the 18th of April and entices trail runners from all over the world to this magical place (36 different countries this year). There are three races you can take part in – 100 miles, 110km and 65km. I’ve attended the shortest one, the “baby race” as one of the volunteers at the registration called it. I cannot repeat enough how well organised, well crewed and well marked this race was. Small fluttering red flags scattered around the course almost every 30 meters guided us along paths through the various checkpoints and aid-stations filled with water, cookies, Nutella© bread, sandwiches, salty snacks, carbonised water, coke and even gluten free/dairy free products for the sensitive ones.
Our (65km) start was in Buzet. The spirits were very high on this wholly uninspiring, rainy (and I mean pissing down) morning. Temperature wasn’t so low, but it definitely wasn’t warm. Once we’ve all desecrated the only toilet in town and abused the changing rooms to perform our last minute heart rate strap adjustments (Hotel Vela Vrata please accept our profuse apologies), we made our way to the start line and set off with an enthusiastic smile.
The first ascend and Sovinjsko Polje planes warmed us up enough to shed a few layers of clothing. A few miles into the race some fun time has been planed for us in the form of a short mud and obstacle course. Although quite warm by now I kept my rain/wind coat on which proved to be quite useful on the hilltops overlooking Butoniga water reservoir.
First aid station followed shortly after – the magical town of Motovun. If you ever get to visit Istria this is one of the most beautiful places you can go to. In the summer it hosts a well known film festival (Motovun Film Festival) and in the winter it becomes a ghost town – a host to lost wanderers that roam the streets to listen to the wind howling past the city walls.
The descend from Motovun took us along the main street past the cemetery and then continued through woods down to the main road towards Oprtalj. Going uphill through the woods one could spot the world famous “Istarski sparugi” (asparagus) growing everywhere – my Nona from Buje makes them extremely well. On the top we continued past Oprtalj to the next aid station. This part was bloddy cold! My right hand frozen I had to enlist the help of my left hand and tea offered from volunteers at the station to open and close my water bottles.

Lovely wooden downhill and a single track took us onto Parenzana trail. The old narrow train track (once connecting Vizinada with Secovlje, Slovenia) has now been completely renovated and still takes you through the old tunnels, across wooden bridges and past the beautiful viewpoints over Mirna Valey and towns such as Groznjan, Triban and Buje.

Arriving in Groznjan reminded me just how much I miss coming to this places now that I live in London. As well as on every other aid station, my parents were waiting for me here to see how their crazy son is doing and cheer me up. Dad with his big camera and mum with the little cakes Nona made.

After the quick stop I continued towards Buje and then towards Umag. On the way I met a cheerful older bloke from Poland who, like me, was really enjoying himself on the race. I don’t now what your name is, but if you’re reading this, please contact me on Facebook or twitter.

The last part was hard. Really hard. Not because of the terrain (which by now has flattened out), but because of the consistent push towards the finish line. Although I’ve passed quite a few runners by now, one tough Slovene would not give in and was determined to persist until the end at a pace just slightly faster than mine. Ziga, you bastard!

Umag. The finish line. Handshake from Alen Paliska, the race director, green medal (for the 65k) and a long stretch of hurting legs. It’s been tough, it’s been fun and I’m definitely coming back next year. Thank you every one.

P.S. The next day, weather had changed from pissing down rain to cloudless skies over the beautiful Adriatic sea.