This year’s edition of the Vidovdan Road Race, an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, on Saturday (28) will be less focused on the elite contest and more on the humanitarian aspect in a city that was recently badly affected by heavy flooding.
Last month the Balkans was hit by the worst flooding in the area since records began. The waters triggered thousands of landslides across the Balkans as entire villages were wiped out in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Tens of thousands of people were forced from their homes and six villages in Brcko were evacuated. In the aftermath of the disaster, a great deal of solidarity has been shown by many people from around the world, including organisers of the Vidovdan Road Race, who have devoted all of their resources to the clean-up operation.
As a result, this year the race will have only symbolic prizes and proceeds from the entry fees will be paid into the fund for the rehabilitation of flood damage.
Continuing in the theme of solidarity, the depleted elite field for this year’s race mainly comprises athletes from the Balkans and surrounding area. It also means that the six-race streak of Kenyan men’s winners will be broken.
In the men’s race, nine-time Serbian champion Mirko Petrovic will return to the 10km race where he set his 28:55 PB six years ago. On that occasion he finished third in Brcko and the versatile runner – who has won national titles from 800m to 10,000m – will look to get close to that.
He will be up against two talented Hungarians in the form of former European junior 5000m champion Barnabas Bene and London 2012 Olympian Tamas Kovacs.
The women’s race could be even more competitive. The most recognisable name in the field is former European cross-country bronze medallist Aniko Kalovics of Hungary. Now 37, the four-time Olympian might be in the twilight of her career, but her 31:42 PB makes her easily the fastest woman in the field.
On current form, however, the race is far closer. Montenegro’s Sladjana Perunovic holds national records for every distance from 800m upwards, including the marathon in which she represented her country at the London 2012 Olympics.
She is fresh from a 1:15:27 half-marathon PB set at the Balkan Championships in April. With this being her first 10km on the roads, she looks destined to set yet another national record.
Like Perunovic, Serbia’s Ana Subotic is another all-round distance runner who competed in the marathon at the 2012 Olympics. She has competed in Brcko on three previous occasions, her best result being a second-place finish in 2007.
Home hope Biljana Cvijanovic and Hungary’s Zita Kacser, both steeplechase specialists, are also expected to be in the mix.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF