In my opinion, Zagreb can boast some of the most diverse varieties of racing events. Instead of dividing races into long and short, I will divide them into two groups – single individual races and league races. Given the flat terrain, running one of the races in Zagreb can help you catch that record, but if you are interested in something more, check out what Go! Running Tours Zagreb offer.
Main Zagreb Running Races
Date: Expected Sunday, 1 October 2023
Time: 10 AM
Considering the number of participants and organization on the highest level this is definitely the most serious of Zagreb running races ever since 1992 when the first Zagreb Marathon was organized. In addition to the usual 42km, the race includes a half marathon as well as a 5k race. The race is located in the city center and surrounding area, including Ilica and Maksimirska streets, that are available only for the runners during the race, making it a great opportunity to run through these heavily trafficked streets. It’s very flat, with weather conditions in October ideal for a good result.
Date: 1 April 2023
In early April on the embankment along the river Sava, the increasingly popular Hendrix Run takes place. The start and finish of the race are located next to the old railway bridge, called the Hendrix by the locals, named after famous guitar player himself and the graffiti with his name dating from 1994 or 1995 (authors are not sure). City authorities have fought over this graffiti for years, but it did not go far beyond the intervention of the city moles and the graphite would be back in its old place. The embankment along the river Sava is a flat surface, with the number of participants limited to 600.
Date: TBA 2023
Zagrebacki Cener takes place in early fall (usually the first Sunday in October) in the evening hours and is located in the center of the city. As the race is very popular amongst locals, I recommend that you sign up in good time, as opposed to myself last year.
During the race, the temperature in Zagreb is still warm (and perfect for running) which brings many locals to the streets to watch and support runners. The magnificent atmosphere, especially taking into account that you are only running 10k (the only distance on the race) which does not represent too big of an endurance challenge, makes it easy to enjoy. I highly recommend it.
Date: TBD 2023
This is one of my favourite running races in Croatia. It is a trail run that starts in the city center and goes up to Medvednica Mountain. It has 5 categories including a relay race, with distances from 7 to 35km and all distances are trails except the 35km race that can be both, trail and trekking (running on unmarked track finding the best possible path using the map). I recommend the longest distance. Long-distance races usually include the most interesting sights, making this a race I choose whenever I feel comfortable with my physical condition.
This year the race starts in the afternoon making it partly a night race so do not forget to bring the headlamp. The number of participants varies by around 1000 in all categories with altitudes from 150m to 1.5km (not published yet).
Date: TBC (June 2023)
This beer-run race takes place sometime in June (exact date and time to be confirmed). It is located in the center of town with the start and finishes in Tkalčićeva Street – the street. Here you can find countless restaurants, cafes, and bars. The route passes by some of the most beautiful historic parts of Upper Town and it goes up towards the north and Medvednica Mountain (but does not go up). There are two distances – 10 km (two rounds) and 5 km (one round). This is the race with the best after-party in the city (according to the organizers). And I believe them.
A 21km running tour designed for intermediate and advanced runners interested in seeing the main sights of Zagreb downtown, and a few hidden trail paths going towards the northern part of Zagreb, including Cmrok – excursion site and promenade since 19th century, and Mirogoj Cemetery – known as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe. Ideal for marathon training.
Smaller and Club Running Races in Zagreb
With the rise in popularity of running in the last few decades, many running races have appeared in Zagreb and the surrounding area. The number of runners is continuously increasing, and the organizers are tirelessly creating new leagues making running more interesting every year. I listed a few of my favorite league races I recommend them in case you are in Zagreb:
Date: 32 races from February to December
Time: Thursdays, 6 PM
This is the league with the longest tradition of running races in Zagreb (over 30 years). There are 32 races split into the spring and autumn seasons. Races are scheduled on Thursdays at 6 pm. They have long (8.5 km) and short track (5 km) with the first eight races taking place in the Sava embankment, and the next eight in the Maksimir Park. In the autumn it is vice versa – the first eight are in Maksimir Park, and the last eight are in the Sava embankment.
Summer League Puntijarka
Date: 12 races from May to August
Time: Thursdays, 6 PM
To escape from the summer heat, here is where local runners are looking to run every Thursday at 6 pm during June, July, and August – even the parking lot where the race begins offers 2 to 3 degrees lower temperatures than those in the city center. Finish at over 900 meters above sea level next to the cult mountain cottage Puntijarka. The goal is to reach 4.45 km and 700 meters uphill. The return is a walk down the same path downhill, where cold beer, juices, and biscuits are served to the runners. On average there are 100 participants… One of my favorite trails on Medvednica Mountain.
Winter League Lagvić
Date: 15 races from October to January
Time: Saturdays or Sundays at 10 AM
In the winter months, another mountain league starts on Saturdays or Sunday s at 10 AM. The start is next to the well-known Zagreb restaurant Lagvić in Šestine, and the destination is at the very peak of Medvednica Mountain.
The peak often offers sun, warmth, and beautiful views of the Alps, while at the foot of the city it is often cold, grey, and foggy. The League offers two types of tracks, a nine-mile-long road track, and the popular but steep Mrcina track in a length of just over 5 km. The specialty league makes it that the results are calculated by the age-old handicap. On average there are 130 participants.
Mourning Gelender League
Date: every first Wednesday in the month
Time: 5:30 AM
Probably one of the quirkiest Zagreb running races, starting every first Wednesday in the month at 5:30 am!!! That’s a real “before work party”. It starts at the same place as the Summer League Puntijarka but goes on a completely different, on the other side of the mountain, to the very top.
Since the length of the day changes during the year, the dawn always catches you in a different place giving you the impression you are always running a new race.
Date: January to February, every Wednesday
Time: 6:30 PM
Definitely the craziest league with eight races in January and February, always in the dark evenings and never the same route. The start is somewhere in the valley of Medvednica Mountain. Make sure you have a headlamp and are dressed in layers.
Other local Zagreb running races I recommend are:
- Zagreb Spring Half Marathon – flat and ideal for records.
- Zagrepčanka512 – racing on the stairs of one of the most recognizable skyscrapers in city.
- Sljeme Trail – 10k, 20k and 30k on forest trails.
- Sljeme Marathon – known as the most difficult marathon race in Croatia.
- Traversa – a spring race that crosses the entire ridge of Medvednica in length of 47km, with ascent only 1.600m making it possible to run over 90%.
- Blatersa – Winter version of Traversa with start at midnight.
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