With race season rapidly approaching and training ramping up for athletes around the world; we are delighted to welcome the newest member of the Chance Pro Team (and more importantly, the Chance Family) - Jovica Spajić.
As with Sarah Bergeron-Larouche - for us, running prowess and ability is only a starting point; we want to partner with athletes that have a deep connection with nature, inspire us and the wider running community to keep pushing and who, ultimately, want to share our journey to positively influence the world through running. Anyone who knows Jovica will know he ticks each of these boxes resoundingly.
From the moment Jovica got in touch with us, we were struck by his passion for running, for nature and for, well, life. He interacts with such an engaging and enthusiastic nature, with a friendly ease that almost seems incongruent with the unrelenting determination and grit that he exhibits in his racing. Having immediately hit it off, we invited Jovica to Girona to live and run with us for a few days - part training camp, part kit testing, part SS23 shoot but all the while building a relationship based on shared experiences, a love for the outside world and a passion for performance running apparel.
Jovica has run some of the most challenging races on the planet, including wins at Bigfoot 200, Atacama Crossing, Arrowhead 135, La Ultra – The High (a 333km race in the Himalayas), two second places at Moab 240 a top 5 at Tahoe 200 and strong showings at races as diverse as The Sahara Race, Badwater, the Yukon Artic Ultra (700km in the Arctic Circle) and last edition of the legendary Jungle Marathon.
This season, Jovica will have 3 'diametrically different races/projects' starting with the Summer Spine Challenger North race in UK, then SwissPeaks in the Swiss Alps during September and KAEM - Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon in Kalahari desert during October.
We asked Jovica for some words on our partnership:
"Chance isn't just a clothing brand and one of the hundred with similar approaches and objectives on the market these days... It's not a "boutique" clothing brand with "fancy" arrow design... Chance is a pure essence of our community, creativity and talent of the team behind the brand, pure connection with athletes, mountains and nature, Chance is all about support and willingness to make the world a better place with all the values we share passionately and making awareness about some important environmental topics other than just running.
The company make something really different and find a balance, equilibrium and "compromise" with environmental awareness and high performance and sustainable and durable products.
I am honored and privileged to join the Chance running family and team and to help with everything I have, with my passion, experience, knowledge, results and influence."
To have someone of Jovica's pedigree and experience sharing insights into our kit development is incredibly exciting as we continue to develop the world's finest trail apparel, and his belief in doing so in a way that minimises our collective footprint on the world gives us confidence that we will share this journey together for years to come. Here is Jovica's journey so far, in his own words:
"A particularly important role in my childhood was played by the fact that I spent a lot of time in a small, picturesque, mountain village in Serbia with my grandparents. From an early age, moving through mountain peaks developed my strong connection with the nature. Ennobled by these feelings, reading Jack London's books on the "far north" – I dreamed of running through vast wilderness, untouched nature and strengthening that "adventurous spirit" I had no idea that this would be the initial "impulse" to my later entry into the world of endurance sports - especially ultramarathon and Ultra-Trail running.
After my regular schooling, my life paths took me to the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit - SAJ, an elite police special unit in Serbia, of whose "A" team I am a part of, for a full 16 years. "Genetic engineering" that I carry, my constant many years of playing sports in various forms and disciplines, training through my work and specialist activities (mountaineering, topography, survival in nature, skiing, touring skiing, parachuting, diving, orienteering, martial arts, reacting in extremely complex and stressful situations…), together with that "childish" and dreamy spirit that form an integral part of my personality and "identity" - conditioned the natural course of things - to "imprint" myself in the world of ultra-running. I represent my country Serbia with a lot of love, enthusiasm, dedication, perseverance, motivation and inspiration - with dignity and authority at the legendary world ultramarathons.
Somewhere I specialized in everything that is broadly related to endurance sports, nature and mountains.
The sport simply "found" me. There were also a lot of circumstances. I had my first race in Egypt, in the Sahara Desert in 2012. It was a 250-kilometer ultramarathon. It was a painful experience, I was very young for such a race, and extremely inexperienced. But that experience that I gained, "on my own skin", helped me to mature later and realize how complex this sport is. Not only from the point of view of physical preparation. You have to be very mentally, emotionally and sociologically stable in order to create a bigger picture when doing a race - or a project as I call it - because for me it is like a college exam, a measure of everything you did that year. More precisely, a set of various knowledge, skills, everything you have read and experienced while testing your limits of endurance.
I have had top results in the last five years and in the "branch" of ultramarathons where extreme endurance races are classified in the most challenging parts of the planet - from desert to ice Arctic races, with the highest and lowest temperatures measured in the world.
There is a thing that is very important, when I talk about my engagement in SAJ, it all comes down to teamwork. The stronger the weakest link is, the stronger is the team, everyone has their place in the team and their role. It is a stereotype that the special forces members must be huge and muscular. I am a living example that confirms just the opposite, since I weigh 59 kg and I am 173 cm tall, which is very atypical. But again, I would like to think that I am the archetype of the old chivalry - without wanting to glorify or idealize myself personally. In the literature, there are data that they were of shorter stature and very smart, but that they could take the advantage of their own genetics and build.
Another thing, yes - I do training in the unit with the team, but I also have my own specialized trainings that I do in accordance with the project I am preparing for.
Once a year, I work on the "base" and I put a special emphasis on exercises for the development of explosive strength and power, and again I try not to miss specific exercises for strengthening small muscle groups. I believe that a person must be strong and complete in every segment, because otherwise some things come to a "charge". If you have not strengthened your knees or lower back well enough, this will be seen in the race, because you often carry a backpack that weighs 10-15 kg or pull a sled with a load that weighs up to 25 kg.
My race training starts 20 weeks before the start and I try to do everything before going to work. I get up around 5 am for my training, and then I continue to do regular trainings in the unit, which include exercises of strength, explosiveness, mobility and proprioception, because the special forces members must be compact. We also do post-training exercises in full combat gear, which helps me as a simulation of the extra load.
Everything simply fit in and I think this is the perfect sport for me, because I believe with all my heart that I can put Serbia on the map of the world's ultramarathon and extreme endurance race, which is a special privilege and blessing for me.
At the races, you also have the opportunity to meet and talk to other people, competitors from all over the world. This is how you get valuable advices and it all happens without any vanity, unconditionally.
Each race carries its own story. The races I participated in are amazing, sometimes they seem fairytale-like. Let’s say racing in Alaska was my childhood dream. Stories about Alaska, that breadth, books by Jack London and stories about the "far north" ... It was unreal to be the protagonist of that story and that epic race. To finish that race that way, to win ... The dream became a reality ...
There are also races like the one in the Himalayas, "La Ultra - The High" where I also made a great story. There is a documentary about it, 333 km at 6000 meters above sea level, with limited time ... It is a race that brings out all the best and worst out of you.
I would also mention the "Jungle Marathon" in the Brazilian part of the Amazon, when I ran 250 km in the jungle and also won.
It is always a blessing and an honor for me to be able to be a sports "ambassador" of my country and to bring its story to spotlight and people just feel natural with me, in the sense that I can answer all their dilemmas, questions even give them some advice. That inspires them. If we are talking about multi-stage races that take place from day to day, I even got to be the favorite person in the "camp". A very important segment is to bring a good story about myself, my people mentality - because they see our country through me. When the race is over, no matter how it ends, the essence is to keep the good reputation. Can you imagine to have someone coming from a small country like Serbia, who behaves nicely, who is educated, who has learned about the customs and traditions of the country he is competing in, who respects their heritage.
In the last few years, I have "profiled" myself as an athlete and specialist in races that are extremely demanding and take place in areas of the planet Earth where temperature variables and inversions are present, where the terrain is a "mix" of all that "Mother Nature" can throw to the protagonists of the race. Such projects require experience, additional skills and knowledge unrelated to running, a high degree of self-awareness and knowledge of capabilities, as well as excellent physical, mental, emotional and logistical preparation, planning the smallest details and assembling that unique "mosaic" in one complete structure. An indispensable part is the true motivation and ideals for which you do all this, and which should be real, "pure" and enriched with lofty goals and desires. The races I go to must have a special story behind them, that epic character. They must "get" the best out of me and my full potential. I usually do 2 or 3 big projects during the year and that is why I am especially dedicated when I make decisions about participating.
With experience, maturity and certain age, the way of looking at things changes. I would be burdened with expectations earlier, I would think about the final goal, fall into the "trap" of predictions and ambitions, result imperatives and other distractions, ignoring the essential ... And for me the essence is to get rid of all unnecessary thoughts that "hinder" us and simply give in. Solve all the temptations and problems in the present moment and go step by step, and sooner or later that is how you reach the goal, in this particular case - the finish of the race. Of course, during the race itself, there are ups and downs - both energetically and in terms of motivation. One easily falls into discouragement and thoughts of giving up become more and more present. However, in my case, I am thinking in the direction that all those "weaknesses" and energy drops, pains and other troubles will pass at some point and positive thoughts prevail, leading me to the right side. I do not burden myself with distance, I am focused on every step and small goals.
I often face the problem of changing the time zone because most of the races I participate in are held on other continents and in other time zones ... This is reflected in the fact that it is harder to adapt to not sleeping during multi-day races, but aware of that, I also try to improve that segment, by coming a few days earlier - before the start of the race and trying to adjust. Usually I can easily endure not sleeping for 2 days constantly moving, and during the races like "Tahoe 200", "Moab 240" or "Bigfoot 200" in the States I did not sleep for more than 56+ hours, although on several occasions I took short breaks trying to fall asleep, without success.
A huge motivation for me is the desire to be a real "ambassador" of Serbia through my results and behavior during the race, to bring out that beautiful story about my country, about our mentality, personality, to tell about the tradition, history, heritage that we nurture ... A very bright motive is also to present my family, friends, colleagues from the Special Unit, people who support me unconditionally and with a pure heart, with a lot of faith, hope and love, with dignity and honesty. Again, I find motivation in everyday life, in the little things and stories of simple people, their sincere smiles and the support I constantly receive. I am trying to show that with great effort, will, honest approach and renunciation, nothing is impossible - dreams become reality.
Everything I do, I do out of love, with pure heart. I am often told that I am a perfectionist. I just love what I do so much, that maybe sometimes it seems like I talk with a lot of inspiration, passion, whether it's related to equipment, racing, the job I do, training ... My desire is to pass that love on to others, so that they can enrich themselves, and perhaps set out to achieve some of their life goals and dreams.
I run enriched with that feeling of true joy and freedom when I am in nature, and especially in the mountains ... All the worries and temptations of this world stop there, there is no pressure, you breathe with full lungs, you feel the scents of plants that mountain winds bring in the air, you hear sounds in their original form, you indulge in a unique sense of simplicity and connection with Mother Nature. The movements become fluid and somehow come to terms with everything around you; at that moment, you become one. You do it out of love, not because of the money, interest, additional "likes" on social networks, you would definitely do it - without sponsorship agreements, the most expensive equipment, logistics ...You do it and encourage those sublime motives that were mentioned earlier - desire to identify with your races and your country, family, friends, colleagues, people who support you because of who you are, because of your passion, your personality. Because of that story about a boy who started from a small mountain village in Serbia on his way to become a "personal legend" and fulfil his biggest dream ... That story can be the story of any of us ..."