The weather forecast promised us brilliant weather for the 24th inauguration of the Ljubljana marathon, and it didn’t disappoint. Traveling towards Ljubljana from the south, though, I wasn’t so sure. It was foggy and slightly chilly. But that was soon to change.
Having parked at one of the designated parking spaces, I quickly found myself on one of the organized free buses that take you to the city center. From there, it was a short walk to the center. There were portable toilets everywhere, which was comforting, as it is always a little unnerving when you’re trying to hydrate before the race but find yourself overdoing it somewhat. Everything was signposted so well. I was very impressed. It left you in no doubt about which direction to go, where to find things, etc. Event volunteers were everywhere, as well, so if anyone had a question, help was right there in front of you.
I quickly found my way to the bag drop-off tent, did so then began my warmup. The zones were clearly marked according to anticipated times for both the 21 & 42km races. Pacers were on hand, covering running times from 3 hours for the marathon (1:30 for the half) down to 4:45 hours (2:25 for the half) in 15-minute increments.
The atmosphere was phenomenal. The announcers took care of this in multiple languages, while the primal beats of the percussion band, The Stroj / The Machine, were more than enough to get you even more motivated. The start gun when off in a blaze of gorgeous sunshine, as we began our journey down the main street of Slovenia’s stunning capital city, adorned by the castle on the hill, overlooking the happenings below it. Thousands upon thousands of people lined the streets, all around the course. There was music, bands, moms, dads and kids, with all kinds of flags and signs, offering their cheers and encouragement. Aid stations were aplenty, every few miles, with the usual fare including water, isotonic drinks and fruit.
The primarily flat course was one of the better ones I have been to. The event boasts a large number of runners, but you never got the feeling that there were too many. There’s nothing worse, for me, to have to continually dart in and around slower runners in front of me, especially in the beginning of a race. This really wasn’t a problem in Ljubljana, which is a testament to the way the organizers released the runners from each zone, instead of letting them all go at the same time. The architecture of the buildings in Ljubljana is simply stunning, while the view to the nearby mountains, as you run the course, is enough to take your breath away … which was all aided by the glorious weather.
The day was amazing … the gorgeous venue, the organization, the destination. Totally and thoroughly recommended for anyone wanting to experience something different, in a country that is becoming more and more a tourist destination for North Americans. And it’s not surprising why. There’s a reason. Find out for yourself 😉