Nikolina Šustić, 2018 IAU 100k World Champion, Interview

After finishing as runner-up at the previous edition, Croatia’s Nikolina Šustić won the 2018 IAU 100k World Championships. In this interview, Nikolina talks about her all-race duel with second-place Nele Alder-Baerens, how she self-talked positively late race when the running got hard, what it felt like to win a world-championship title in her home country, and if she plans to race again in 2018.

Be sure to read our in-depth results article for more of the race story.

Nikolina Šustić, 2018 IAU 100k World Champion, Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Nikolina Šustić after her win at the 2018 IAU 100k World Championships. How does it feel?

Nikolina Šustić: I’m really happy.

iRunFar: You’ve looked happy for quite awhile.

Šustić: That’s my style of running with a smile. The last 30k was not so fun because the German girl [Nele Alder-Baerens] was close to me and I was feeling a bit tired. My leg started to hurt. I started to use my head. Then there was no more smiling.

iRunFar: What were you doing with your head?

Šustić: I told myself, Okay, I’m at home now, and this is an opportunity to take the gold. I lost the gold two years ago in Spain by a minute-something little. I didn’t want to lose it also here. Then I just said, Okay, I have to continue pushing, pushing how it goes. In the end it was okay.

iRunFar: It was both the memory of 2016 and the positive of your home?

Šustić: Yes, I really wanted to win here because all the people I know came here to support.

iRunFar: The ‘other Nikolina’ was here.

Šustić: Yes, my twin sister came, and this is perhaps the only big race she has come to watch me. Before she was never with me.

iRunFar: Early in today’s race, Radka Churáňová went out very fast.

Šustić: Yes, I was expecting that because she had great results this year. I was expect she would go fast from the beginning. Later, she lost that because it’s a long race and the course is not so easy here. It’s a bit difficult.

iRunFar: You were not worried early in the race then?

Šustić: No, I was not worried for her but for the German girl, yes, because I know she’s a good runner and uses also her head when running. I was expecting her to make problems.

iRunFar: Watching from the start/finish line, you had 2:00 lead and then 1:20 and 0:40 and 0:20.

Šustić: Yes, I was not feeling good during that period. She passed me with two laps to go and was leading for less than one kilometer. Then I told me, Okay, I have to go now. How it goes, it goes.

iRunFar: There was no holding back. You should try for the win and if you can’t get it, it’s okay?

Šustić: Yes.

iRunFar: You pushed it and passed Nele and were back in the lead. When you passed her after a few kilometers, did it feel like it was your race to win?

Šustić: No, still not. I was still not sure. I decided to push, but I didn’t know how it would go at the end. Nele is a really nice girl and a really fast runner. She’s great. It would be also fair if she won the race today.

iRunFar: How was the energy from the crowd here?

Šustić: It was great.

iRunFar: Were there any moments that really stick out from the day as positives?

Šustić: Everything was positive.

iRunFar: How was the heat at the end of the race? Was it hard for you?

Šustić: A bit, yes, it made a difference. In the beginning the weather was okay, and later it was sunny. Usually I can support sunny weather and warm really well, but it seemed today I wasn’t really okay the last 30k probably also because of the warm temperatures.

iRunFar: Were the hills a challenge at all, or did you enjoy the fact it was not flat?

Šustić: Hilly races are my races, but yeah, it was not so easy. I like when it goes up, up, up, up, and then down and not like this (undulating) all the time—up, down, up, down. The circles were all the same; there were too many circles.

iRunFar: I know you race a lot. Do you have any races coming up soon?

Šustić: Yes, there are a lot of races, but I have to decide which I want to run.

iRunFar: So you’re not finished with your racing season yet?

Šustić: No, no, no, now there are a lot of races in autumn. Last autumn I was racing the whole three months with no stopping.

iRunFar: Every week?

Šustić: Every week.

iRunFar: In 2016 after you finished second at the world championships, did you take time off after that? How soon did you…?

Šustić: After that, I had an injury. I had to stop. I was forced to stop.

iRunFar; You really like running. You can just tell. Whether it’s racing or training… how much do you train?

Šustić: I do not train so much. I usually train after work in the afternoon, but I do not run every day. Sometimes I ride a bike or go to swim. It depends how I feel.

iRunFar: So you’re active all the time. You mentioned work. You’re an engineer? Software? What do you do at Ericcson?

Šustić: Yeah, I’m working in system testing of the software. I’ve been at Ericcson for more than six years now.

iRunFar: It’s technical?

Šustić: Yes, it’s very technical, and it’s eight or nine hours in the office. You have a PC and that’s it, but I like my job. There’s no problem.

iRunFar: Then you go out to have your real fun.

Šustić: Yes, I go out to have run with running.

iRunFar: Congratulations on winning your race.

Šustić: Thanks. Thank you very much.

BONUS QUESTION

iRunFar: I have one bonus question for you. Tell us about ‘Slonica.’

Šustić: Slonica? It’s an elephant.

iRunFar: It is your nickname?!

Šustić: Yes, it is my nickname. It was four years ago there was a [Red Bull] Wings for Life race, and someone referred to me as Nikolina Slonica Šustić, and from that time it remained—Slonica Šustić. But I’m a bit taller and stronger than other girls that run, so it can stay like that.

iRunFar: You have fun with it?

Šustić: Yes.

Bryon Powell

is the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar.com, which he founded more than 10 years ago. Having spent more than 15 years as an ultrarunner and 25 years as a trail runner, he's also written Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and co-wrote Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running. These days he calls Moab, Utah and its trails home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

Share
Published by
Bryon Powell

Recent Posts

2020 Western States 100 Lottery Results (Plus Additional Entries)

Results from the 2020 Western States 100 lottery.

December 7, 2019

Sometimes You’re the Windshield, Other Times the Bug

An essay about how good and bad days are natural in a lifetime of running.

December 6, 2019

La Sportiva Bushido II Review

A review of the La Sportiva Bushido II.

December 5, 2019

WeRunFar Profile: Hiroko Suzuki

An in-depth profile of Japanese trail ultrarunner Hiroko Suzuki.

December 5, 2019

Age-Old Runners: Denise Bourassa

An interview with Denise Bourassa about her competitive trail ultrarunning at age 50.

December 4, 2019

Rethinking the Aid Station

Alex Nichols gives tips for effective aid-station visits during trail races and ultramarathons.

December 3, 2019