2018 winner Jaroslav Kovacic: ‘I can still feel the goose bumps’

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With an amazing pace Jaroslav Kovacic entered our stadium last September. The spectators were going crazy and the Slovenian triathlete was giving his all to break the race record. He succeeded: Kovacic finished in a spectacular time of 7:55:44. ,,Almere is a lucky place for me. I knew it was possible to break the 8 hour barrier and maybe even the race record. But now, some months later, I can still feel the goose bumps”, he added smiling.

Kovacic is on the island Fuertaventura right now, working hard and preparing for his upcoming season. It’s with happiness he thinks back on CHALLENGEALMERE-AMSTERDAM. ,,In 2017 I’ve became third on the European Championships and last year I took the win and the race record. To break this sub 8 hour was my main goal for the day, but to be honest I was thinking about the race record as well, because the weather reports were so good. I believed in my swim, I knew it was possible for me to ride a 4:20 hour and I knew that I could run very fast. Besides of this, I really like the Dutch weather. A little bit colder than most places and of course the wind. Come on, it’s Holland. There is always wind. It suits me.”

It was Kovacic who turned out to be the fastest swimmer, together with Dutch Evert Scheltinga. Both athletes came out of the water after 50:05. During the bike ride there was one man dominating: Australian Cameron Wurf came back after 4:10:49 of bike riding to set the bike race record, starting the marathon in the lead. Kovacic came back after 4:18:54 and was together with Scheltinga and Danish Kristian Hogenhaug at this point.

At the beginning of the marathon, it was Wurf with some minutes in the lead, keeping the pace very high. ,,’What is going on’, was the only thing I thought. He was running so fast. But after about 21 kilometer I noticed that I was getting closer. I had the advantage of being a ‘hunter’. This was the hardest moment of the race and it’s definitely easier to being a hunter than being hunted.”

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Kovacic as a ‘hunter’ during his marathon. (Photo: Andr√© Kwakernaat)

With less than 10 kilometer to go, it was Kovacic passing Wurf. ,,At this point my head was totally empty. I knew that I’d have to keep pushing to win. Race record wasn’t on my mind right here, cause the data on my watch were doubtable.”

Nevertheless Kovacic knew he was on the right way. ,,You can feel it when you are in the ‘zone’ and running fast. My kilometers were always sub 4:00 minutes. With just one kilometer to go, I knew it was possible to break this race record. Once in the stadium, it was amazing. A pure relieve. There were so many spectators, a great atmosphere, the speakers going crazy. I just saw the video of my last 1500 meters: I really was flying on pure adrenaline. You can’t feel anything at this point anymore. You are just sprinting.” His marathon was completed after 2:43 hours.

When Kovacic crossed the finish line, his emotions returns. ,,You can see your family and friends after a long day. The happiness is indescribable. For me everything was on the line for this race. I’ll definitely come back to Almere once, most probably next year during the World Championship.”

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