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: October 11th, 2020
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 half marathon as well as a 5k race. The race is located in city centre 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 heavy trafficked streets. It’s very flat, with weather conditions in October ideal for a good result.
Hendrix Half Marathon
Date: April 5th, 2020
Time: 11 AM
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: TBC (May 2020)
Time: 10 AM
The race that is sometimes referred to as Štrapacijada, nowadays called Boroša by the founder and multi-annual organizer of the race of Julio Boroša, who picked rowing as his primary sport but was in love in running and moving in general. I call this race “From the Square to the Tower” because not only were we blessed by the beautiful hill a few minutes drive from the city center, but our fellow citizen Boroša was a sports visionary who organized one of the oldest mountain races in Croatia and beyond that starts from the center of our favorite city to the tip of the favorite hills, making our hometown unique in the world.
Although I consider it to be my favorite running race, I have not run it many times, but only when I have been in good shape because I think my performance is worthy of the race only if I can run it in one breath and with a satisfactory result. However, I have been participating in the organizing many times, as a marker of the track as well as the speaker waiting for the runners in the finish line. Well, now, why do I like it apart from everything written above? It’s hard to describe it, you need to try it: moving from the city center, from the main square, running near the cathedral, through the beautiful hills of Nova Ves, and when you come to Zvijezda, you see Medvednica Mountain with its tower where the finish line is. When you leave the city and pass through the tunnel, you are reaching the hardest but most beautiful part of the trail, running through the slimmest and most rugged trail of the favorite mountain-Leustek’ path. Just before the end of the race, you are awaiting the greatest temptation and athletic part of the race for all but the best ones-climbing along the steepest part of the trail, where ski lift in the winter draws skiers to the top and at the very end the final prize–peak, finish line and unforgettable view Croatian Zagorje and Alps.
Zagrebački Noćni Cener
Date: November 11th, 2020
Time: 7 PM
Date: TBC (May 2020)
Time: 5:30 PM
This is one of my favourite running races in Croatia. It is a trail run that starts in the city centre 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 2020)
This beer-run race takes place sometime in June (exact date and time to be confirmed). It is located in the centre of town with the start and
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 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 favourite 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 in spring and autumn season. 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 centre. 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 favourite 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 speciality 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 s
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.