Marija Vrajic of Croatia ran a a big PR to take third at the 2015 IAU 100k World Championships. In the following interview, Marija talks about her race from this year, how Camille Herron’s run inspired her to try and run faster, how she’s always been a runner, and how running is growing in Croatia.
For the rest of the story of Saturday’s race, read our 2015 IAU 100k World Championships results article.
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Marija Vrajic Post-2015 IAU 100k World Championships Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Marija Vrajic after her third-place finish at the 2015 IAU 100k World Championships. Congratulations.
Marija Vrajic: Thanks a lot.
iRunFar: I watched your race last year down in Doha, and in the middle of the race, you were out in front—a little more aggressive last year. Was your plan to be more calm this year?
Vrajic: This year, I think only about which result will make because last year in Doha, I concentrated on position, which is not good. This year, I didn’t make this mistake again.
iRunFar: You were far back in the early running, but you were consistent.
Vrajic: Yes, I thought tempo, I will go about 4:30-per-kilometer pace and I will finish in seven hours thirty, and I looked on my stopwatch to have this tempo, 4:30 per kilometer.
iRunFar: 4:30 per kilometer over and over and over. How long were you able to hold that pace?
Vrajic: Yes, over and over. Oh, I’m not sure because the last 15k I was very bad, only the last 15k because when I passed Jo [Zakrzewski] from Great Britain. I knew that she was in third position, and, now, I was thinking, “Oh, maybe to take that position.” I lost my concentration, and I had very bad kilometers. Those kilometers were very bad.
iRunFar: At that point in the race, everybody is going to be tired, so if you’re not thinking…
Vrajic: Yes, I think I was too much thinking about Jo.
iRunFar: You’ve run 7:37 a couple times including Doha last year, correct?
Vrajic: No, in Doha, I ran 8:01 there.
iRunFar: You were in 12th there?
iRunFar: But you had run 7:37 twice? And you’ve been running for years?
Vrajic: Yes, twice. Yes, 20 years or more.
iRunFar: How do you explain running 10 minutes faster?
Vrajic: I don’t know. I am thinking maybe I can go better, because when I saw Camille Herron from America, I was thinking, “Oh, there is a big distance between her and me,” but, now, I’m thinking to make shorter distance.
iRunFar: Do you have any thoughts on maybe why you improved so much from your previous times? Have you changed your training or your race plan?
Vrajic: I don’t know. This year, I start to have serious training. For example, I’m training 20k per day with one day free. In the marathon, I also made a better result and better personal best. I don’t know. I expect that I can go a little faster.
iRunFar: What was your time in the marathon this year if you’ve improved that much?
Vrajic: 2:44 and I think I can get better and make it better, too, in marathon. I’m 38 years old, and now I’m thinking, “What was I doing?” I didn’t have courage. Now, at 38, I think I can. I can. I can.
iRunFar: It took you 20 years to figure out, “Oh, I can do this really well.” And you can! So you’ve been running for 20 years. Were you running in track and shorter races first?
Vrajic: Yes, I was training on track, and after five years I went on roads. But I didn’t know that I have too much kilos and that I must be careful that I cannot eat too much. I didn’t run good when I was young. For example, for me, I was training and did marathons for 3:21. That is not good for someone who wants to make some serious results.
iRunFar: It’s a strong time, but if you’re training and training and training…
iRunFar: One thing you do a lot of, is you run a lot of 100k races on the road competitive. Why? What draws you to that?
Vrajic: I don’t know. I think I’m ultrarunner in my heart. When I was a child, I was running. I was always running. When I go to shop, I go and run to shop. I like when I have trainings for example to go to bank and back. I cannot walk. I only run for example to the city. I hate to walk.
iRunFar: Does that get strange looks back in Croatia?
Vrajic: In the beginning, yes, but in Croatia at the moment, there are a lot of schools for running and a lot of people start to have trainings. I’m very happy because running became very popular in Croatia.
iRunFar: Now, you can be an inspiration taking bronze at a world championship.
Vrajic: Yes. I think, yes. I’m very happy about it.
iRunFar: Do you have any more races planned for this year?
Vrajic: Yes, of course. Yes, I think I will run about five or six marathons this year, but 100k, no.
iRunFar: I would guess that you’ll probably be back at the world championships next year?
Vrajic: Yes, but I heard that maybe it will be in Qatar or something like this. Yes, I will come because I want to have a better result and better.
iRunFar: Congratulations on the wonderful result you did have. It was great talking to you.
Vrajic: Thanks. Thanks.