This month's Planeteer Spotlight shines on two runners from Valjevo (Yugoslavia), a town 60 miles southwest of Belgrade, Lola and Sasha Antich. Lola was born in Valjevo, and Sasha was born in Rijeka, a Croatian town on the Adriatic sea. They were both born in 1963.
Lola graduated in Faculty of Electronics as a nuclear physician, and Sasha is a programmer, "but, since our family runs a cosmetic studio, and since both of us are still active sportists, we decided to part-time join the family business, and to have more free time. Career can wait!".
They say that they have always been runners, just running through their lives, "running, cycling, mountain-biking, backpacking, we just put rucksacks on our back and go for more miles than 'normal' people do on their bicycles, and when some friends start counting miles they travel in one year with a car, we beat them on our bikes".
There is a running club in Valjevo called "Metalac", and they occasionally take part in their training sessions. The club has about 100 members, mostly who are younger, teen-age runners, and many of them are Yugoslavian champions in various categories. So, it is one of best clubs in their country. Along with running, they compete in road cycling and are members of the "Milicionar" cycling club from Belgrade.
When asked how many times a week they run they said, "It depends of many factors. We run more in the winter, and at that time our training is based mostly on running. When summer comes, we keep on running just for fun, and try not to exagerate, because it could become counter-productive in sense of cycling technique. There are two loops we prefer, because there is no traffic. One is 5 miles and another is 10 miles. We prefer a 10 mile run, because it is almost all through the woods and not very frequented paths. But, when it is raining there is a lot of mud so this shorter option is more favorable. It is in our near-city park, and is more suitable for interval-running".
While in their hometown, they always run alone. Just the four of them - Lola, Sasha and their two heart rate monitors. During diverse training camps they run in groups from 5-6 up to 20 people.
When asked if they eat anything special before they run, they tempted us with this answer, "We prefer our combination of oatmeal, corn flakes, dried fruit, yogurt and homemade jam. Mmmmmmmmm". Though there is no typical food that is popular to eat by runners "everyone has his or her favorite pre-run food. Maybe the most common is bread with jam, because it is easiest to prepare for youngsters, people that live alone, and others who don't have much time".
Runners in Yugoslavia run in all types of weather conditions. They said that "We are just like that 'nothing can stop me' and it is a common mentality here, particularly among sportists". When asked their favorite type of weather to run in they said, "Well, running when everything is fine, sun shining, light breeze, that should be ideal, no? But there is no challenge, there is nothing special in it. But when the rain is pouring down, when it's snow storming, we just can't miss it. Maybe this sounds weird for someone, but when wind blows you out, so you need one hour to reach the point from where you just jog-back in 20 minutes, you have experienced something special". A weather condition in Valjevo that can affect runners is the heat, because "during the last years they have had long periods with daily maximum of around 40 degrees Celsius, but the nights are quite pleasant, and hot days are better to sleep through. And Moon is smiling!" they said.
When asked if they wear anything special when they run, they said, "When we run, we run, so common people always consider us under-dressed. Once you have enough experience, you can't make big mistakes anymore". And when questioned how many running shoes they own they said, "There are not many shoes in our house, because once worn out - we give them to someone, so there is no temptation to run in old shoes and catch some injury. Always one new pair, and maximally two pairs of not-quite-new for running on snow, grass and for longer walks".
Lola and Sasha run with a water bottle, and when they are in new places they have maps, compasses, altimeters, and similar gadgets. They do not listen to music while they run and it is not recommended for other because "it is not secure, and it draws away your attention from more important things - traffic, surface, time passed, fatigue and so on. Maybe it can be option on a treadmill, but outside there is always something else more interesting".
They do not read magazines because there are not any running magazines in Yugoslavia, so the Internet is their "reading-room".
Running seems to be an accepted activity in their hometown, "Like everywhere, there are tons of people looking to loose weight (those in impermeable clothes in the middle of summer), others who have just quit smoking and want to become fit (they are punching the air, like boxers), and those who have bought new dogs which are double-their-size and are looking like a sled-dog race but without the sledge. As you see, its an accepted activity". Running is actually popular in Yugoslavia, though not as it is in America or Western Europe. The cultural environment is different, and it is not usual to see runners over 40 years old.
Lola and Sasha say that you can tell when a runner is a foreigner because "they are too well dressed. Like on sport fair. Here is quite normal to put on your oldest clothes, to wear it out, and to throw it away. But, it's understandable that one just can't pack his worn stuff and go on a vacation in a foreign country".
Running with dogs is also common, "even the two of us like to give a chance to our dog. When running just for fun, it is so joyful. She is 20 kilograms (40 pounds) mixed Labrador and is a whole heart runner. Cross-country is preferred, with little rivers to jump above and trees to play run-and-seek and catch some breath".
When running in Valjevo one needs to beware of snakes in the surroundings, and particularly near the beautiful river where Sasha and Lola run the most. The name of the river is Gradac and it is "officially the cleanest river in Yugoslavia". Otters live in it, but they are not dangerous.
They sometimes run in organized races, and the ones held in their city are mainly for younger categories, so they are short races. There is a marathon in Belgrade, and it is the only race in Yugoslavia organized that way. The participation fee for marathon and half-marathon is about 10 U.S. dollars and includes T-shirt, posters and prospects. There is also a 5km "run-for-all-and-all-for-run" race. During the race there are refreshment points with water, juices and fruits, and after the race every participant receives a brochure with complete results.
Alice Adamson lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She is twenty years old and is a physiotherapy student. She has been a runner for six years and runs three to four times a week, depending on how much time she has, and the condition of her shin splints.
During a workout Alice tends to run between 8 to 20 kilometers, and prefers to run alone because "running is a great time to reflect on what has been happening and just to relax and escape the real world". She often runs the same course in a beautiful place called Waterfall Gully. Though Alice does not eat anything special before she runs, she said, "Some people eat plain white bread - though any carbohydrates which have minimal fiber is what is recommended by fellow runners and running magazines here in OZ".
Runners in Adelaide are active all year long. Alice said, "In Australia we have great diversity in our climate, which ranges from sub-zero temperatures in winter to 40+ degrees Celsius in summer. In Adelaide, it only gets as low as about 5 degrees Celsius and I'll run in that temp but when it reaches 40, I'll either run early in the morning when it's only 30 degrees or I'll swap my running shoes for bathers and hit the pool". There are extreme weather conditions found in central Australia, such as the high 40's and the low 50's that do affect the running habits of some Australians. Alice's favorite time to run is around 5:30 am in the autumn and spring when the weather is about 15 degrees Celsius.
When Alice runs she wears running shorts, a singlet, running shoes, and a hat. Due to the lifestyle of being a student Alice currently only has one pair of running shoes, but replaces them every four to five months.
Because Alice finds water bottles more of a hindrance than a help, she chooses to run without one. She does, however, wear a heart rate monitor, and chooses running shoes with a reflective strip.
While running Alice enjoys music and says, "I listen to anything with a good rhythm that's easy to run to. At the moment I am listening to many artists including Sonique: Sky and Feels So Good - these are great running songs and really get me motivated. (Sonique was a competitive runner, I believe, before she was a singer)".
As far as reading about running, Alice reads the Australian version of "Runner's World". She says that it is about the only Australian running magazine available, and if you want to buy American or English running magazines they cost over $13.
Running seems to be very popular in Australia, though Alice mentions that many health experts are swaying from running due to the joint problems which can arise and are recommending walking and swimming.
If you visit Australia and go for a run Alice does not think that you will stick out as a foreigner. She says that Australia is a very multicultural country and runners come in all shapes, sizes and nationalities so any foreign runner would just blend in. Though running in Australia is an accepted actively, and popular among both men and women, it is not as popular as AFL (aussie football), netball, or cricket. Some runners run with dogs, but usually on grassy areas or on the beach.
In Adelaide there are organized races that are anywhere from 12 kilometers to a full marathon. Alice participates in the "City to Bay" run, which is from the center of town to the beach. Races usually cost around $15 or more in Adelaide. Alice mentions that though participants are not awarded with a race packet, runners do receive a certificate for completing the race, and there are often random drawings for prizes. The winners are awarded with cash and medals.
In late October you will find the "Adelaide Trailwalker" event. Participants enter as a team of four and each have to run / walk 100 kilometers along the Heysen Trail. The purpose is to raise a minimum of $1000 per team for community aid abroad. Alice hopes to enter this race this year.
Alice has also run in Aspen (Usa/Colorado). She said, "It was an amazing experience and I hope to return and run there again". When asked if running there was any different than running in her hometown she said yes, because of the snow.
Alice is pretty lucky because her favorite run in her whole life is right at her back door. She says that, "Waterfall Gully is a pretty amazing run. It is a 16 kilometers round trip and uphill for the first 8 kilometers. The road winding up to the waterfall is 4 kilometers long and is extremely scenic and once you reach the waterfall the hard part is over. It is a popular running and cycling destination in Adelaide and probably one of the prettiest".
Run The Planet would like to thank Alice Adamson from Australia for taking part in the Planeteer Spotlight.
Whenever Lola and Sasha travel they run where they are. While doing this they have noticed different things, "in Italy traffic was more intense, and it is not easy to find where to run, because of many industry zones around cities. We had the same problem in east part of Czech Republic and in bigger towns in Hungary. We found running in Budapest impossible. It is a beautiful city, but after half hour of running, we were spitting gray balls of dust".
They have also participated in the 1996 "Belgrade half-marathon", "there were a total of 1180 partecipants and Lola finished in 1.48.00, which was enough for 22th place in the women field and for 16th place between Balcan women - that was the Balcans championships also. After the race she regretted for not pushing herself just a little, since her cycling trainer wanted to kill her anyway! Sasha tried just once to run a marathon distance on training, and arrived home in one piece after 3.5 hours, with whole drama between, under pacing, ego boosting, then over pacing, existential dilemmas (to die or not to die), then some walking, some jogging and solid finishing at the end. Than ego growing again, this time until exploding. His cycling trainer is still on tranquilizers".
When asked in their whole lives where and when was their favorite run they had this to say, "We agreed to choose running on the Mt. Kopaonik (around 2000 meters above sea) where was a training camp for Yugoslavian national cycling squad, and we ran every morning before breakfast for about two miles to places where we did some exercises and then ran back to the hotel. Since that was in the winter and days was short, we woke up with first light, and while running above clouds, sun began to rise. Six days a week, for six weeks. We went to bed in the evening, thinking of tomorrow's morning run".
Run The Planet would like to thank both Lola and Sasha Antich from Yugoslavia for taking part in the Planeteer Spotlight. Their friendliness and dedication to running makes us wish we could visit share a run together.