The human behind the athlete Jovica Spajic

Jovica Spajić was born in a small village near Priboj – a town surrounded with magnificent mountains and the river Lim in their foothill. He spent his childhood and early youth growing up in one of the most picturesque parts of Serbia where a traditional Serbian family and the moral values of the good-natured people unblemished by civilization development have still been preserved.

Jovica thinking about life and the next big races to come.

The place arose from the foundations of a medieval square and a high fortress, a legacy of a former town Jagat, built to defend and safeguard the monastery from pre-Nemanjic and early Nemanjic era and a generation after generation of its people matured with a deep sense of respect for sanctity, religion, motherland and life. Hence, it is no wonder that Jovica matured from a boy into a young man gifted with virtues which his modest family, his closest surroundings and historical spirit of the place had been instilling into him.
Searching for his quintessence, he continues his schooling in Sremska Kamenica and after graduating from High School of the Internal Affairs, he returns to his hometown where he works until 2008 as a police officer in Priboj police station. The same year, he comes to the capital and becomes a member of Special Anti-terrorist Unit (SAJ) within the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Serbia.

Guided by motives enhanced by his permanent desire for constant self-improvement in order to broaden the mind which is resisting selfishness and materialistic impulses, he perfects and completes his spiritual expansion by spreading out into equally sublime physical spheres of interests and actions.
He is a black belt holder in Japanese jiu-jitsu and judo. He competed in Cross Fit and accomplished outstanding results in all disciplines. Since 2012 he has been a member of the Serbian ultra marathon national team and has represented his country at the world’s most significant endurance races and competitions.
He persistently improves and acquires knowledge and skills through continuous courses and training in alpinism, free climbing, parachuting, survival in extreme conditions, topography and nutrition. He is exceptionally tactically, mentally and physically trained.

Jovica covered in ice during the Arctic Ultra 2018. The Energy Accumulator with ThermoSyphon technology enables the perfect thermoregulation below the shelter layer.

All the experience allowed him to undertake the greatest and most extreme ventures a human body can bear. He carefully chooses the biggest and toughest races to take part in. From 2012, his versatility, readiness, motive and a deep faith in himself lead him to the most demanding world ultramarathon races where he becomes one of the best ultramarathon runners in the world. The exceptional thing about him is that he factually is a competitor but above all, he moves his own limits in the fight with his strongest rival – himself.

Jovica back home enjoying the scenic nature surrounding him. This is his retreat to recharge after hectic races or work assignments.

Jovica’s aim is to awaken and motivate other people with his results and determination to make them aware that they can always move their limits, beat themselves, be persistent, committed and believe deeply in their own journey. No matter whether it is the race or challenges in life, surrender is not an option.
One of Jovica’s main characteristics is that he is recognized as exceptionally devoted and ready to help everyone. Results are not a matter of utmost importance for Jovica. The mission and motive which drive him through the race come first. He wants to represent Serbia in the best way on any continent, represent the tradition, the culture and show that Serbians are noble and spiritual people. For him, a race is not just a race, a mere competition or rivalry. For him, each race is a serious project which is planned down to the smallest detail for months beforehand. His modesty, upbringing and understanding of true values of life made him a role model of numerous runners and young people who idealize him.
In each and every race he does his best, led not only by the aim to finish the race but to motivate the ones on the verge of surrender with his own endurance, to give back hope to all who think that they are not strong enough to run their own life races. It has not been his physical fitness and skill that proved to be crucial in any of his races but his complete dedication to the aim which he runs for. The aim has always been inspired by humanity, love and deep faith.
He is highly respected worldwide because he often disregards his own results and success on the race in order to help a competitor in need.

That is the reason why Jovica and his friends founded a running community “Ultra Runner Serbia” which now has over 2,000 members.

Jovica believes that the mental state plays the most important role in order to succeed in endurance sports. However, the physical state is important too and therefore he is determined to train.

Moreover, Jovica brings attention to the problem of Angelman syndrome, pulmonary arterial hypertension as well as other rare diseases. Helping the diseased, people is a strong personal motive. He is determined to help people in need and bring them back hope in goodness, endurance and humanity.
He donated souvenirs and equipment from all his races and sold medals in order to raise money to help children and the ones in need.
His tough, wiry body conceals indomitable will, strength, determination and above all modesty.
Jovica is not a slave of material wealth and does not share the desires of his peers. He always goes back to his solitude and contemplation. Bursts of euphoria of others bring him back to faith in the time when most people struggle with a lack of it. He finds mental strength even when there is nothing left in his body. He recognizes nobility and perseverance in everyone reminding people who they truly are when they are guided with the strength of pure heart, hope and faith.

Here is a list of the big races he participated in:

  • In 2012, he was the only representative of the Balkans in the ’’Sahara race’’, a 250 km long stage race with 250 competitors from all over the world. He takes 17th place overall and 5th place in his category.
  • In 2014, he participated in a 24-hour race and 100 km at the IAU Ultramarathon which took place in Palic, Serbia. He broke the national record of Serbia in 24-hour racing by running over 222 km.
  • In 2014, he took part in “Tor des Geants”. It’s a 333 km long trail ultramarathon in the Alps with a total elevation gain of 24,000m.
  • In 2014, he competed with the best ultramarathon runners in “Icarus Florida Ultra Fest“, a six-day race on a certified track. He was second overall and first in his age category with a new national record of 682.30 km.
  • In 2014, he took part in “Milano – San Remo“ ultramarathon, a 283 km long race. Among elite world ultramarathon runners, he was the youngest competitor but managed to finish the race in the top 10 and first in his age category with the time of 41 hours and 13 minutes. 85% of competitors didn’t finish the race.
  • In 2015, he finished the legendary race “Badwater” in Death Valley, USA. The race belongs to the toughest ultramarathons in the world, running 217 km from the lowest point in the USA up to 2530m in California. Jovica finished in 8th place overall and 2nd place in his age category.
  • In 2015, he represented Serbia at the 24-hour World Championships in Torino, Italy.
  • In 2015, he published a book called“Beat Yourself” together with a SAJ colleague in which he writes about physical and mental preparations for endurance sports.
  • In 2016, he took part in the World cup “World Trophy” in Athens. He won the 6-day race and set a new national record of 702 km.
  • In 2016, he won “La Ultra – The High“ in the Himalayas and broke a long time record. The race is 333 km long and takes place in the Indian part of the Himalayas at an average altitude of 4.800 m.
  • In 2017, Jovica, inspired by hope, inspires others and runs for the ones who can’t. He sets new standards in the ultramarathon. His will and motivation lead him to races on three different continents with a total temperature difference of over 100° C – from the North Pole and the Arctic to the hottest part of the Namibian desert.
  • In 2017, he took part in the “Yukon Arctic Ultra” at the Arctic Circle, a 700km long race which is run with temperatures reaching -50° C.
  • In 2017, he ran the “Sahara race” which takes place in the Namib, the world’s oldest desert. It’s an ultramarathon stage race of overall 250 km at temperatures exceeding +50° C. Jovica finished in 2nd place overall.
  • In 2017, he took part in a legendary “TAHOE Lake” in California, the last habitat of the Navaho Indians in the national park Homewood. He finished the 340 km long race as 4th overall.
  • In 2017, he also participated in a legendary race called “Jungle Marathon”, the last edition of the race and enters history as the winner of certainly one of the toughest ultramarathons in the world.
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