Another Croatian Athletic Sensation: A Marathon on Crutches? No Problem!

Total Croatia News

One of the few people in the world who run marathons on their hands.

“After 42 kilometres, I feel really great! It is the same as before when I ran as a healthy person,” says Joso Hećimović (57), the only Croatian marathon runner who uses crutches. Two years ago, he had to undergo a right hip operation. The weakened hip was replaced by an artificial one, reports on 3 July 2017.

“The hip had to be replaced probably due to all the running. I hope I will not have to undergo an operation for the other one,” explains Joso. Despite the surgery, he never even thought about not running. “Just two months after the operation, Joso already started training,” says his friend Josip Milinković from an athletic club in Gospić who accompanies him at competitions. Ten months after surgery, he felt he could try to run the first marathon on crutches. In the last two years, including training sessions, Joso has run around 120 marathons, just under 5,000 kilometres in total.

“I do not run without crutches. Not even for 100 metres. Frankly, I am afraid to run without them. My condition may worsen,” he says. Despite his handicap, he was never last. “I ran all of them in the expected time; always around five hours per marathon,” he adds. He is always welcomed at the finish line by his faithful fans. “Chinese spectators at the Plitvice Marathon were especially delighted. They asked him to take a picture with them,” says Joso’s friend Milan.

“It is impossible for me not to run. That is part of me. I am terribly sorry when I have to miss a training session or if I miss a race. Especially now when I am on crutches,” says Joso.

“I run every day. I make two small rounds around the forest, one large one, and then several rounds around the playground. That is 200 kilometres per month on average,” he explains. “I always run down to the Lika River, and then I climb again. Isn’t it wonderful to run here” he continues. But, there is a part of the route which Joso always avoid. There is a monument where Joso was wounded during the war in 1991. Two of his men were killed, and another was wounded. That is why he never goes there.

“I do not have a coach. I take my crutches, and that is how I train,” explains Joso, who was a footballer in his youth. He admits that in the last few days he did not have enough time to run, because of all the work he had at home and his job at Croatian Forests. “No worries, I am ready. In about ten days, I will run the Sljeme Marathon,” he adds. Sljeme is ideal for him because the terrain is similar to Gospić. “He does not like to run on asphalt. He is used to the woods, roots, holes and stones,” says a friend.

Joso’s wish is to run the six largest marathons in the world: New York, Boston, Chicago, Tokyo, London and Berlin. His goal is to compete at the Paralympic Games in 2020. Still, he admits that is closer to fantasy than to reality.


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