Within two days of the Volkswagen Ljubljana Marathon more than 1% of the Slovenian population runs
How has running changed since the first marathon in Ljubljana and what are the ways that the organisation of marathons has changed?
Gojko Zalokar: "There's a big difference - 600 runners in the early years and 25,000 today. Consequently, the number of people needed for the organisation is higher and we are extending the marathon event as such, because everybody runs - from the youngest to the oldest! It is important to have a future vision and we have always been striving to create a highly professional sporting event, while the budget and marketing is secondary. In recent years we've noticed a third factor, tourism, in terms of international tour operators bringing runners to Ljubljana. This is what will essentially be crucial for the future development of the event - how to bring foreigners to the city and show them Ljubljana and Slovenia."
Andrej Razdrih: "From the first marathon to the present day, the running culture in Ljubljana has developed enormously, it is not just about increasing the number of runners, what makes us happy is the attitude of society to running. People have started running; if you go around Tivoli Park or Rožnik hill two months before the marathon, you can see the columns of runners. Within two days of the Ljubljana marathon more than 1% of the Slovenian population is running and that is absolutely a phenomenon. And what is also important, following the example of our marathon, there are many excellent running events which have appeared elsewhere in Slovenia."
In recent years, which element of the marathon are you most proud of?
GZ: "I am most proud of the children's run, the so-called Lumpi run, because it is the greatest pleasure to watch active children who are not just dedicated to their computers and smart gadgets, but are also active in sport. At the Ljubljana marathon, more than 10,000 children run! In addition, with the children there are also their families; parents, grandparents, and this is the heart of this marathon. On the other hand, children are the potential future runners in the years ahead."
AR: "Indeed, the children's running was Gojko's idea and I am proud to say that, not essentially that other marathon organisers have copied us, but obviously they added children's running immediately after the Ljubljana marathon 'invention'. Furthermore, even from the international congress side there are recommendations to the marathon's organisers to encourage and include children's running into their events. And, in addition, we as the organisers give children this run free of charge, to children and to society."
How multicultural is the marathon in nationalities and countries?
GZ: "There are runners from 56 countries with the majority of foreign runners coming from the Balkan countries, in the last few years we have had more and more runners from Macedonia. In addition, we are also addressing runners from the European capitals."
What would you say about the marathon's route? Why is Ljubljana special compared to other similar international events?
AR: "It is important to say that Ljubljana's marathon is really very well organised and the runners are friendly, which is confirmed by the IAAF silver label which was obtained this year and we are on the way to getting the gold label, fulfilling all the criteria: streaming, top competitors - Kenya and Ethiopia, but unfortunately not yet the Europeans and top organisation of the event. This means that everything works smoothly from the web registration to the number acquisition and equipment, refreshment and water stations on the route, kind people and finally a clean marathon. Here, it is important to say that without the great cooperation with the Ljubljana municipality, this marathon could not be the brilliant event it is and essentially, the Municipality enables the modest entry fee which is on average half of the entry fee of equivalent events around Europe. But what mattes the most from all the marathons around - in Ljubljana we have people along the route, they are encouraging the runners, bands are playing and that really motivates the runners at the crucial moments of their race."
GZ: "Every year we change the course. Obviously, it always goes past the monumental buildings that are important for Ljubljana or for the Republic of Slovenia. Last year, in the year of Plečnik Heritage, we paid attention to the objects of this great architect which were specially presented on the route. Every year we add something new."