A very special event took place at the gym of the elementary school Stranje, as part of preparations for the 16. European mountain running championship. It was organized by championship’s organizers Mountain runners club Papež in cooperation with the Stranje elementary school, which stands close to the starting place of the championships race.
After the hall filled to the last place with locals, students, teachers, parents, award winners, their mentors, volunteers and representatives of the local, Slovenian and European athletics, we could all see that the town lives and breathes with the upcoming championship.
Throughout the school year pupils and teachers of the school had explored Velika Planina through different classes and events like culture day, eco-day, mountain excursions, literature for the eco-reading program … Pupils of the first classes were getting familiar with the mountain through songs, stories and dances in the project called “From the times of our grandmothers and grandfathers”. As a part of the so called eco-day students of higher classes were making shepherds figurines from corn cobs and they will be given to the best runners at the championship. In the art workshop students created flags of all 24 countries taking part in the championship and these flags were symbolically raised at this event and will also be welcoming the runners at their accommodations.
The principal of the school, Mr. Boris Jemec, who is also a member of the championships organizing committee, stated in his speech: ”We must teach our children to respect the nature and to know how important it is to be active in life. This championship unites both, love of nature and active endeavours, so we are proud that we can be part of the event and also teach our students in the spirit of it.”
In the cultural program, two pupils dressed as shepherds, played a scene from shepherd’s everyday life and introduced the championships mascot: a runner partially dressed as a shepherd. Then little girls showed us an old shepherd’s game and sang some folk songs, while an old shepherdess was making uniquely formed hard cheese called ”trnič” on the stage.
Organizers had also launched a literary and art competition for all elementary school students in the municipalities of Kamnik and Komenda with the title “Velika planina and mountain running”. Six elementary schools took part in the competition. The best ten art and literary creators and their mentors received awards and their work was exhibited in the gym and the main hall of the school.
We also had a chance to hear a special song – runners hymn created especially for the championship and performed by Trio Smolnikar.
In his speech the president of the Slovenian athletics association Mr. Roman Dobnikar thanked the organizers for all the efforts in organizing the event that will also be a great opportunity to promote Slovenia and Slovenian sport. Members of the European athletics associations’ council Mr. Janez Aljančič and Mr. Gregor Benčina were also present, and Mr. Benčina marked this championship as an amazing sports event of great importance for Slovenia and also for EA.
The European associations’ delegates Ede Rutkovszky and Aditya Kumar were impressed by an amazing cooperation between the organizers, local community and the school.
Mr. Tomo Šarf, the president of the Mountain running association with the AZS, played an important role coordinating AZS and EA.
Deputy-major of Kamnik, Mr. Matej Slapar said that the municipality is aware of the importance of the event and will support it in every possible way.
Events director, Mr. Dušan Papež emphasized that the organization of such an event is a great honour as well as serious obligation. He expressed his trust in his team of dedicated and professional volunteers, and belief that they can prepare an event that will grow into a real mountain running festival of the whole valley. As a great admirer of the Velika planina mountain, he promised that despite the numerous runners, fans and visitors they will keep the mountain in tacked and pristine.
He finished with the words of invitation and inspiration:”Be honorary and proud promoters of athletics and mountain running in the world!”