This was the 28th annual running of the Plitvice Marathon. And while it draws several thousand runners for the day, only about 200 or so run the actual marathon. The others run the 16km and 5km runs. That makes it a very intimate affair, that I would imagine many people used to the big city marathons would not like. For the most part you are running alone through the national park with not much support other than the aid stations. However, since it does take place in the national park, you are running through some amazing scenery which makes the race go by fast. Scenery also makes up for 2 brutal climbs that are several miles long. Besides the 2 climbs and 2 very long downhills the race never flattens out. It is a constant cycle of rolling hills, ups and downs. As a cherry on the top, the last mile to the finish line is all up hill. Perfect.
|We are ready to race|
That morning, June 2nd, we drove from my home town of Bihac, Bosnia to Plitvice National Park, which is about 40km away in the neighboring Croatia. Race did not start until 10am so we had plenty of time to get there and get settled. More than a half way there I realized that I have forgotten my running socks. I was wearing these low cut cotton socks at the time, and a horror scenario was playing in my head. Thoughts of terrible blisters and chaffed Achilles were running through my mind. I knew that this marathon didn't really have an expo so chances of getting some new socks were slim. However, as we were picking up our race bibs I saw a boot for Compressport compression gear. Score. I went over and got myself a pair of trail running socks that were on sale that day. Crisis averted. PS: the socks worked out great and I am looking forward to wearing them again.
Few days prior to the race, I also got contacted by a reporter wanting to do a pre and post race interviews with Amy and myself. She was working with the Japanese film crew and they wanted to talk to runners from around the world to see why they came to Croatia and Plitvice. The interview was rather interesting with the guy talking in Japanese and his translator interpreting in English. They also wanted to have a short follow up after the race which was fine with us.
|...and they're off|
|The finish is near. Only few miles to go|
Our experience at Plitvice Marathon was wonderful. The course and the people were great. It is impossible to mention that the whole thing costs 140 kunas ($25), which included the race, pre and post race meals in the restaurant, beer, a medal, t-shirt and tickets to the national park for the whole weekend.
|Pretty nice medal|
I am back in the States now. Vacation is over. I took off about 2 weeks from running completely. Just in the last week I started to do some short runs. We have a pretty busy racing season in the fall, including the NYC Marathon, so the training will pick up soon enough.
Now back to work...