Croatia is an amazing summer destination!
And Zagreb, the country’s capital city, has become very popular as well. The city is bustling with festivals and it’s becoming increasingly hard to keep track of everything that’s going on.
Summer is also time for Sljeme Marathon, the first ever organized trail race in Croatia.
But let’s start at the beginning.
Medvednica is located just north of Zagreb, has a southwest-northeast alignment and is 42km long.
The name Medvednica could be translated as the “bear mountain”, but don’t worry, there are no more bears there. Actually, the mountain is often referred to by locals as “Sljeme” which is the name of its highest peak so don’t get confused by that.
Sljeme marathon is usually held on the 1st or 2nd Sunday in July. The temperatures then are already over 30 degrees in Zagreb so a trip to Sljeme feels very refreshing because temperatures are significantly lower.
The route is a 14 km long circle so you can choose between 3 distances:
- 42 km – 3 circles
- 28 km – 2 circles
- 14 km – 1 circle
Sljeme Marathon starts at the peak after which you have 6 km of a downhill gravel path. Then it’s 800 meters of steep single track to Srnec creek which is the lowest point in the race. This part is a bit technical as it can be slippery so you need to be a bit cautious.
Then comes the most interesting part, 500 steps called Horvatove stube. Steps were created by Vladimir Horvat, a passionate hiker who wanted to make this path accessible to he built a kind of a staircase. Steps are quite steep so it can be challenging to keep a good pace here.
After you survive the steps, you are ready for the trail uphill part. The single track first takes you to the mountain hut Hunjka and after that to mountain hut Puntijarka. And then when you think that the worst is over, comes a steep 300 m segment which brings you to the top.
OTHER ZAGREB TRAIL RACES
Zagreb is a quite unique capital city because it is possible to run from the city’s main square to the top of the mountain (at 1031m) in less than 1 hour. And for us humans in under 1,5 hours. And of course, there is a race that does exactly that: Boroša Zagreb
There are also trail races which traverse the mountain and are around 50km long. There is a summer version called Traversa, and a winter one which starts at midnight called Blatersa (“blato” means mud so you can expect a muddy or snowy terrain, depending on the weather conditions that year)
There is a summer league called Puntijarka and a winter one called Lagvić, with one of them taking you from the bottom of the hill to mountain house Puntijarka and the other one to Sljeme top.
There are a few more Zagreb trail races which happen at different times of the year and change the route each year so it’s a good opportunity to explore the mountain even more.
But, there is only one Sljeme Marathon race and this is one not to be missed!