Croatia's best ultramarathoner Robert Radojković had a tough season marked by problems with the injury, but he still gathered strength to run the Wings for Life World Run in Florida and threaten the great Aron Anderson who won his second global run...
Radojković is definitely one of the most awarded Croatian runners, and for the past few years victories became his everyday life. He has the bragging rights for multiple titles of the
Croatian marathon champion as well as two impressive Wings for Life World Run victories in Ljubljana and Zadar. But because of the microfracture of the vertebra which he picked up while breaking the record on the exhausting ultramarathon stage race from Zagreb to Vukovar, 2018 was a frustrating year and he could not score his usual triumphs.
"I have lost the whole year trying to come back. Luckily, during the last few days the injury is finally starting to heal. Right now my biggest wish is to be healthy, because without the health, you cannot reach the level you want to be at, it becomes harder and harder, and this causes discontent," Robert Radojković admits. In spite of all problems, he ran this year's Wings for Life World Run, with great passion and for those who cannot.
Croatian Champion has chosen the Sunrise, Florida run and he had the most difficult task, because at the track he was facing a showdown with a brilliant defending champion Aron Anderson. Radojković was not scared, he kept the pace of the Swedish runner for as long as his body let him, and the photograph of an excellent runner and a top competitor in a wheelchair running alongside and fighting for the lead in the race, was seen all over the world and it has splendidly demonstrated the idea of the Wings for Life World Run project.
"There are a number of beautiful photos of the two of us which demonstrate the symbolism of this race. That is why it was worth the effort to make such a photo," said Robert who had to give up after 12 kilometers:
"The tactic was to go as far as I could. I knew that running will exacerbate the injury, but I started strong, and I said to myself that I would run for as long as I could endure the pain, and that is what happened. After all, that is the nature of this run. I managed to exchange a couple of words with Aron, but we ran very fast, so we didn’t have much time to talk. It was hard to keep up with him on the straight sections of the track."
Five months after the American Wings for Life World Run adventure, things are getting better for Radojković, so once again he run the 344 km long ultramarathon stage race from Zagreb to Vukovar. Only Krešimir Šimić, Antonio Arbanas and Miroslav Ban came to the finish line, and although Robert was in the lead he gave up in the second stage. Nevertheless, he still feels a significant progress in his form. He decided to give up on his catering business he has been running for years and in 2019 he is ready to devote himself fully to sports activities and to return to the top of the world.
"Wings for Life World Run will definitely be my priority in the first part of the year. If I go to Zadar, I want to beat the record once again, make a nice promotion for Croatia, and try to get as far as possible, 75 or 80 kilometers. It all depends on my health," a decisive Istrian runner said. He also wants to correct a somewhat unusual situation, because the 100 kilometers Croatian women's record set recently by Nikolina Šustić Stanković at the World Championship (7:20:34) is faster than his official men's record (7:24:35) set in Doha in 2014.
"I ran my personal record, 100 kilometers in seven hours and 12 minutes, at the Forrest Gump race in Zagreb four years ago, but the record was not officially recognized because there were no international judges along the track. Still, I think it's time to go back and drop that record below seven hours," said a confident man whose 65.66 kilometers were the second best result in the history of the Wings for Life World Run in Zadar, second only to the current winner, Austrian Karl Aumayr (68.01 km).
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