I love to live in Jelsa. I love Hvar. Most of the time. But there are certain moments, when I really wish to move far, far away. In those moments, I can see how there is no hope for this closed community to ever change. Moments like the Jelsa carnival, when envy is ruling the place, when anyone, who is doing something differently, thinking outside the box or trying to change anything on the island is being mocked and teased. One has to have a really thick skin around here to survive.
There are not many on the island, who are able to go against the flow. There are too many restrictions coming from family relationships, church traditions and other culture-related rules, which apply to you, if you were brought up on the island. Sometimes, it is just not appropriate to do something differently, Dishonouring your family, religion or culture could push you to the edge of the society. And life there is hard in an isolated environment like this.
I am aware of the fact, that this traditional way of living has many positives and it probably occurs in some form in many other small communities around the world. It might be, that the nature of the island in its isolation just makes everything more intense.
Sometimes, I just feel overwhelmed and completely unable to make it work for me here. I got tired of going against the flow. I can′t do it alone for so long..
But then, I realize, I am not alone. Not at all. There are so many people doing their thing despite being the only one on the island. Despite the fact, that nobody supports them, not even recognize their successes. And they are good, they are one of the best in the world and they live among us and they are coming to my life as I get to know their stories.
Here is one of them – Janez Maroević from Stari Grad.
I am sure, many have seen him training along the road when driving on the island. Janez is one of the best Croatian runners and he won the national championship 6 times in the past 20 years. It seems, like his age is just a number to him, because in his 43 years of age, he just returned from Florida with a wonderful success – 2nd place in the large Fort Lauderdale A1A Marathon 2016. Maorević ran the 42,2 km long track in 2 hours 38 minutes and 59 seconds, which is his best result in the past 9 years. It was a tough competition of 6.000 runners and Maroevic was only 2 minutes and 15 seconds behind the winning Bryan Huberty from US.
“What to say, I am just so happy, because I have really not hoped that in this age and with my almost chronic problems with my back, I could still run under 2:40. I ran almost two and a half minutes faster than two years ago when I won and when there was less competition. After this result, I believe that in 2016, I still can improve my time, because it is only the beginning of the season and now I have immense confidence and motivation for further training,” said Janez about his huge success.
It was not easy to keep it up to such high standards in this hard sport over those 25 years. The more when you know, that Maroević was training all alone on an island, where no one before him was ever doing athletics.
Janez was invited by the organizers to run at Fort Lauderdale and he got the race number 1. “For a foreigner, it is a huge honour to run with the number one on your chest and it was for sure one of the most special moments in my 26-year-old athletic career. This is proving how much an organizer appreciates you and a confirmation about the fact, that you have achieved something in your sport. As far as I know, no other Croatian runner has ever experienced this. To run with the state coat of arms and the race number 1 was a huge lift in motivation and it is probably the reason why I objectively gave more than I thought I could into this race,” said Janez.
Although he did not lead the race, for the whole time, Maroević had a police escort behind his back. “It is quite an unusual situation for a marathon race, because the escort always follows the leading runner, while other run without it. I probably deserved it because of the race number 1, but I have a really special status in Florida anyway. Being there feels like being at home to me. Sadly to say, that in the city where my family is one of the oldest, where I was born and still live, that as a top athlete and as someone involved in sport for so many years and a Master of Economics, I have a better position in the US in a city of million people than here, where I would not get a job even if I would to become an Olympic champion..” concluded Maroević with a noticeable touch of bitterness in his voice this mini interview about his truly great sporting success.
Congratulations Janez!! From the bottom of our hearts, here at Total Hvar.