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A man dismissed as an eccentric managed to combine his knowledge of chemistry with his passion for running to launch a second career – and to serve as an inspiration for these determined to conquer great distances (The picture is symbolic). Foto: BoBo

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An Unlikely Marathon Man

Slovenia Revealed
13. November 2017 ob 06:16
Ljubljana - MMC RTV SLO

Slovenians have a passion for extreme sports; in recent years, many athletes have even set records by tackling ambitious feats of endurance. But when a chemist named Srečko Bergant decided to become an extreme runner in the 1980s, he was dismissed as an eccentric – only to pioneer the trend towards healthier living.

In 1984, Srečko Bergant was a little-known scientist with a PhD. in chemistry. Because he had noticed that he couldn’t run as fast as he once did, he decided to get in shape. Determined to give his lifestyle a complete makeover, he set himself an ambitious goal: To take part in a ten-day, thousand-kilometer run in Switzerland.

Because he wasn’t an athlete, many people derided his plan and concluded that he was destined to fail. But Bergant was determined, and to get ready for the big race, he began running on roads and in stadiums across Slovenia accompanied by an assistant in a van. He also drank salt water. As a chemist, he was convinced that salt water would supply his body with much-needed minerals, but his unconventional method only contributed to his quickly growing reputation as an eccentric.

But to the surprise of many, his approach paid off. He successfully completed the ten-day race in Switzerland and went on to a career in extreme sports. In 1987, he set the Slovenian record for a thousand-kilometer run on a stadium in Kranj. His time – seven days and six hours – remains unbroken to this day.

Always determined to share his positive experience with others, Bergant has written five books about the benefits of an active lifestyle. He has also developed the concept of “full-bloodedness,” which emphasizes the importance of maintaining the body’s mineral balance. Decades after he was mocked for his unconventional approach, many other athletes are now drinking salt water to prepare for their big races.

A man dismissed as an eccentric managed to combine his knowledge of chemistry with his passion for running to launch a second career – and to serve as an inspiration for these determined to conquer great distances.

Jaka Bartolj