Race Report Contributor: Terry SanCartier (via RunK2J Race Report Form)
Event Name / Date / Location : Istria Marathon / April 10, 2022 / Koper, Slovenia
Synopsis: Location, location, location. The views over the Adriatic Sea and the Slovenian Alps are spectacular! The organization is excellent and the weather in April, ideal.
My Race Experience: I waited 2 years to run this race. I was scheduled for the 2020 edition then the pandemic changed everything. Finally in 2022 I was able to travel to Slovenia to visit the country and run this race.
Slovenia only has 47 kilometers of coastline and we get to run along a long section of it. Several times during the race I was just blown away by the scenery – the Adriatic is beautiful. Seeing the snow-capped Slovenian and Italian Alps in the distance was an unexpected surprise.
The Slovenian language is difficult but I made sure to learn “hvala” which means thank you. I said it many times during the race to the spectators and the people manning the water stations.
This was my 109th marathon. I hadn’t set a goal time. I simply started the race and tried to keep a good pace throughout. I like the element of surprise and did not study the course. I simply followed the arrows and the other runners. I almost got lost on the way back in the town of Izola. Fortunately, a cyclist coming the other way noticed my hands up and the expression on my face. He yelled out to me, which I didn’t understand, but he also pointed the way.
Although hillier, there were sections that took us away from the sea and through farmers fields, vineyards and even an area where they collect sea salt. I loved the variety of everything that I saw.
I crossed the first runner, preceded by a policeman on a motorcycle in the old rail tunnel several hundred meters long. There was a group of young people all playing the accordion nearby and it echoed in the tunnel. Later, near the salt pans, there was a group of seniors all dressed in turn of the century clothing smiling and waiving as we ran by.
It was a party atmosphere at the finish. There were singers and dancers on a large stage. They even had their own mascot.
I did not run my fastest marathon but that wasn’t the plan. I still had two more weeks of travelling to do in this scenic country. I wanted to ensure I could do plenty more hiking and walking.
All in all, this race is among the most beautiful I’ve run. It ranks high up there with Big Sur.
Would you do this event again? Why? : I would definitely run this race again for the organization and the views. It is not a flat course but there are long sections that are flat.
Would you recommend this event? Why? : I recommend this event. The people are proud of their marathon. They even have their own catchy theme song! The views alone make it worth while.
Closing thoughts. Any hints for others planning to do this race? Where to stay? Things to bring? What to wear? : The race organizers alternate the course finish line every year. It’s best to stay in the town where the race ends as you will be a short walk from your hotel. They always provide a free bus service from that city to the start location. It’s best to reserve hotels well in advance. Shorts, t-shirt, some arm warmers for the early morning. There’s a bag drop.
Istria Marathon Info Stats:
Overall Venue Rating: 5 – Monumentally Awesome
Rate the course: 5 – Excellent
Please rate the aid stations: 5 – Amazing
What was provided at the aid stations?: I wish all races had aid stations like these. In addition to the usual water and electrolyte drink, they provided oranges and banana halves at every station. The stations were well managed.
How was the weather? : The weather was perfect. Sunny, clear skies. A cool 5-6 degrees early in the morning that warmed up nicely to 17-18 by mid-day. I spoke to a co-organizer and was told that they are always fortunate with the weather.
Judy & Harold Footnote: This was the first International Race for the new RunK2J gear, and it was an epic intro. We checked out the marathon from here, and found this peppy feel-good Istria Marathon Theme Song on YouTube. You gotta check it out and add to your running playlist once you see the video. I know one word in Slovak: ‘Marathon’! Thanks Terry.