STA, 11 November 2019 - Slovenian Rea Kolbl has defended her title of the women's world champion in the top category at the Spartan Ultra obstacle course race in Sweden's Aare, covering 112 kilometres in difficult weather conditions and terrain in a challenge lasting a full 24 hours.
The 28-year-old Slovenian was the last woman standing in the race in the elite category, and the only one to run the last, 14th lap, to celebrate victory in what was probably the most difficult course in the history of the series.
Kolbl started the race at midnight, defying extreme conditions, including sub-zero temperatures, to conquer more than 8,500 metres in altitude difference and go over 350 obstacles.
"It was very difficult. I had to improvise a lot, but the beauty of such races is exactly in being able to solve problems quickly when many things start to go wrong, from the weather to selection of food and equipment," she said.
"I had started thinking about giving up one lap before the end because of cramps, but I'm happy that I pushed myself some more and beat all the competitors," she added after winning her third title in a row.
Born in Ljubljana, Kolbl has lived and trained in Colorado, US, for ten years, and is the only Slovenian competitor in obstacle course racing in the world at the highest level.
As a youngster she trained artistic gymnastics, winning a national championship several times and representing Slovenia internationally.
After finishing secondary school in Ljubljana, Kolbl graduated in astrophysics at University of California, Berkeley, publishing her first article in the Science academic journal at 22 years of age.
It was in the US that she fell in love with running, cycling and skiing, establishing herself as a trail runner in distances up to 50 miles between 2012 and 2016, setting several records.
Later on, she added skyrunning - extreme mountain running above 2,000 metres of altitude - and obstacle course racing, being particularly fond of the challenges in the Spartan Race series.
More than 200 events are taking place each year as part of the series, featuring more than a million competitors, from elite athletes to recreationists, in around 40 countries.
Kolbl also came to Sweden as an ambassador of Spartan Race Slovenia, the first mountain obstacle course race in the country, which will be hosted by Kranjska Gora between 22 and 24 May 2020.
"I would like to inspire people to go outdoor, to join me in the mountains and competition courses," she had told the newspaper Dnevnik.