Croatia’s Nikolina Šustić is the fastest-returning female at the 2018 IAU 100k World Championships, having taken second at the previous edition. In this interview, our first with Nikolina, she talks about how she got into running after growing up playing basketball, her training ahead of this race, and the other members of the Croatian women’s team.
Nikolina Šustić Pre-2018 IAU 100k World Championships Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Nikolina Sustic before the 2018 IAU 100k World Championships. How are you?
Nikolina Šustić: Fine, thank you.
iRunFar: I’d say, “Welcome,” but we’re in your home country.
Šustić: Yes. So, you’re welcome here.
iRunFar: Thank you! It’s my first time here, and it’s wonderful!
Šustić: Yes, it is.
iRunFar: Have you run any races in this part of Croatia?
Šustić: No, still not.
iRunFar: This will be your first time in this region?
Šustić: Yes, my first.
iRunFar: You were second place at the World Championships two years ago. How did your race go?
Šustić: Yes, it was nice, but I was running that month already three races before, so I was a bit tired. I was not expecting anything special at that World Championships, but at the end it went fine.
iRunFar: Did you consider not even running that race because you had so many races before?
Šustić: I was considering to run it, but usually in November there’s a lot of races, and the World Championships were at the end of November. I like to run a lot of races. That’s my mode of running or my style.
iRunFar: So you did it, and it turned out okay.
iRunFar: How was the competition that race? Were you in the front the whole race?
Šustić: Let’s say, at the beginning I was maybe fourth or fifth place, and then I was moving in front. I think we were one minute and something more difference between first girl and me, so it was close.
iRunFar: You moved up. The Croatian women have had some very good teams.
Šustić: Yes, we won silver medal as a team. We are expecting also on Saturday to win some medal as a team.
iRunFar: Is Marija [Vrajić] back?
Šustić: Yes, Maria is back.
iRunFar: Who else will be strong on your team?
Šustić: Veronika Jurišić always runs good races and Antonija Orlić. We have a good team.
iRunFar: So you’ll try to keep some podium medals at home.
Šustić: Yeah, hopefully.
iRunFar: You ran a good race in Spain and took second, but you’ve run your PR after that, yes?
Šustić: Yes, after that at [100k del Passatore], it is a 100k race in Italy that goes up and down, so it’s a difficult course. But I like difficult courses, and all my PBs are on hills.
iRunFar: Is where you train hilly?
Šustić: Yes, Split is a bit hilly. It’s not so flat.
iRunFar: So, that’s your strength. This course is not flat.
Šustić: Yes, it’s not flat, but it’s not so hilly. It’s in between.
iRunFar: I just learned you are a very good basketball player for a long time.
Šustić: Yes, I was playing basketball until 2010 or 11 with my twin sister. My twin sister was the captain of our national team.
iRunFar: The senior team, yeah. You have a long history with basketball. Why did you switch from basketball to running?
Šustić: I don’t know. There was a half marathon in our town, and my twin sister and me wanted to run that one. It was the first time we ran so many kilometers. Perhaps before we ran mostly 5 to 6k. That half marathon we won together, and after that I continued to run. She continued with playing basketball. The next year I saw there was an ultramarathon of 12 hours organized in Zagreb, so I wanted to run that one. It was called Forest Gump Ultramarathon. I ran it really well. It was a Croatian record and the second best result that year in the world for 12 hours. Then I decided to go that way.
iRunFar: It’s gone pretty well since then. You do like to run a lot. Have you run any races in the last month?
Šustić: Yes, I ran in Berlin in the European Championships in the marathon.
iRunFar: How was your race?
Šustić: Yeah, it was good. I did my personal best although the race was not so easy.
iRunFar: I heard it was also hot, yes?
Šustić: Yes, it was hot, and many athletes gave up. So, I could be happy with that result, yeah.
iRunFar: It shows you have good fitness now, yes?
Šustić: Yes, hopefully.
iRunFar: Does it have you excited for Saturday?
Šustić: Yes, I’m excited, but I like to run. It’s nothing strange. It’s when I run another race, it’s nothing more different than other races.
iRunFar: Do you run a lot of your races in Italy now?
Šustić: Yes, I’m racing mostly in Italy because it’s close to Croatia. I like to run races there because they’re very well organized and there’s a lot of participants. They like to see me. There’s a many organizations of marathons, and they usually invite me to Italy to come to run.
iRunFar: That’s nice. Here you are—you’re at home. Is that special?
Šustić: Yes, it is, but a bit of pressure, and I don’t like that. I just want to behave normally without pressure and run my race.
iRunFar: You can think about it as a pick-up basketball game with friends but go running.
iRunFar: Great to meet you. Good luck out there. Let’s go watch some Croatian national basketball now.
Šustić: Yes, thank you. Yeah, I will go now.