Marathons and Trail Runs in the Balkans

For many people, running is a way of life. Some run religiously. Some compete for medals. Some run for pleasure. Some just enjoy the community. Others are just happy with a cool t-shirt. There are famous marathons and half-marathons all over the world. But here in southeast Europe is the place of the first ever marathon. Today there is a wide range of marathon and trail runs in the Balkans that will challenge, amaze, and leave an unforgettable impression on any seasoned runner. Each is unique, offering spectacular venues in places waiting to be discovered.

Krali Marko Trail Run

We thought we would help you out and share with you some of the events that take place in southeast Europe. This list is not exhaustive. There are many runs out there, but these are some of the best. You can peruse through these and plan your next big run in the Balkans. Besides having a running adventure in an amazing, new place, you can have a chance to explore more of the culture and unique nature after you challenge yourself. It may just be one of the best experiences of your life!

(For help exploring responsible travel in the Balkan region that fits with the ethos of your run, check out our farm stay network or contact us!)

Frozen Peaks endurance marathon trail run in the Balkans

Marathon Runs in Southeast Europe

The following running venues are spectacular. Whether running through the city, near the ocean, or in the mountains, the experience of running a marathon in one of these places is worth checking out. Some of these also include half-marathon options, 10K runs, and family fun-runs. There is something for everyone in these marathon possibilities:

Belgrade Marathon – April – Belgrade, Serbia

Three Hearts Marathon –  May  – Radenci, Slovenia

Olympus Marathon – June – Mt. Olympus, Greece

Alpine Marathon –  June  – Podbrdo, Slovenia

Night Marathon – June – Novi Sad, Serbia

Ston Wall Marathon – September – Ston, Croatia

Sarajevo Half Marathon –  September – Sarajevo, Bosnia i Herzegovina

Ljubljana Marathon – October  – Ljubljana, Slovenia

Novi Sad Marathon – October – Novi Sad, Serbia (relay race)

Podgorica Marathon – October – Podgorica, Montenegro

Zagreb Marathon – October – Zagreb, Croatia

Athens Marathon (the original) – November – Athens, Greece

Marathon on Mt. Lovčen in Montenegro

Trail Runs & Ultra Marathons in the Balkan Peninsula

If you want still more challenge, check out the following trail runs. Running through mountains and trails within these places will not only push your endurance but will also leave you refreshed and grateful that you did it. Trajce Pankovski, the organizer for Krali Marko Trails in Macedonia, states that he is about developing a “runner-friendly race where the main interest is to run for running–to explore your will, endurance, and your limits.” Instead of focusing on money or prizes, he shares that the real goal is for runners “to be surrounded with other fellow runners [and] to meet some new friends.” This theme persists throughout the trail runs in the Balkans. Some outstanding trail events in the region include:

Lovcen Marathon – May – Cetinje, Montenegro

Rijeka Trails – May – Rijeka, Croatia

Frozen Peaks – May – Nevrokopi region, Greece

Hahlici Trail – June – Dražice, Croatia

North Face Zagori Mountain Running – July – Vikos Gorge in Greece

Risnjak Trail – July – Crni Lug, Croatia

Učka Trail –  September  – Kvarner, Croatia

Krali Marko Trails – September – Prilep, Macedonia

Legion Run monkey bars

Adventure Runs in Southeast Europe

Driven. Motivated. Just a little bit of crazy. You’d have to resonate with at least one of those to particitpate in these events. These will stretch and push you to your limits–like any other ultra marathon, or eco challenge event. For example, Borislav Visnjic shares that the Boot Camp Challenge Montenegro is for “anyone who wants to feel a rush and to forget about everyday life…. This is a team race, but also a fight with obstacles on the track and in your head.” Quality adventure runs in the Balkans include:

Vitosha100KM – June – Bulgaria

Bootcamp Challenge Montenegro – July – Cetinje, Montenegro

Tryavna Ultra Marathon – July – Travna, Bulgaria

Spartathlon – September – Athens, Greece

Rodopi Advendurun – October –  Rodopi Mountains, Greece

Spetses Mini Marathon – November – Spetses Island, Greece

Legion Run – different cities in the Balkans

Boot Camp Challenge in Montenegro

So are you pumped? Ready to try one of these races? Grab your shoes, your water, your sense of adventure and plan your next run in the Balkans. You will not regret it. Which run will you choose next?

Marathons and trail runs in the Balkans include this peak at the Krali Marko Trail Run in Macedonia

All photos used with permission. Our huge thanks and photo credits go to:

  • Krali Marko Trails for photos 1 and 6
  • Frozen Peaks for photo 2
  • Base Camp Montenegro for the montage in photo 5

 

Marathons and trail runs in Europe

 

 

3 comments

  1. Dont miss the Night Marathon in Novi Sad – 7, 21 and 42 k Every last Saturday in July 🙂 http://arkfruskagora.org.rs/nocni-maraton/

    1. So, it looks like the Night Marathon is held on the last Saturday of June, not July, right? The link shows it was held on June 27. Maybe I should start training for next year! B-)

  2. Thanks for the input Tijana. We have added the Night Marathon.

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