Ljubljana will host 19th edition of Ljubljana marathon on 26th of October 2014. And for the first time, like all major marathons around the world, the full marathon will be run in one lap. Participation has been rising steadily through the years, with almost 1500 marathoner and over 6000 half-marathoner runners participating last year. The decision to change marathon course to one lap has been in the air for quite some years now, many expected than the 20th running would be suitable time. Nonetheless, this idea always spurred quite energetic debates in forums and media. With this year’s formal announcement of one-lap course, things proved to be no different.
I ran Ljubljana marathon 8 times (plus twice half marathon), on courses that changed through the history. Organizers modified it mainly to accommodate increasing number of participants and also for making the course faster. Good course record is quite important factor when considering participation. And on most occasions, I wasn’t happy when they announced course changes, but after running it, I would always like it more than previous year’s. Having noticed my caprice, I was actually quite excited when I first saw this year’s course. So the decision to try the course before the event came without hesitation.
In order to run such urban course more or less fluently, I decided that morning time would be best. The alarm was set at 2:45 AM, and I started running at course kilometer 8, as it is the closest part to my home. I really enjoy such early morning runs, when all is quiet, there is no traffic and stopping lights are still not working. I actually don’t remember meeting a car in the first 10 km, and I was able to run turns like in a race, always choosing the shortest distance. Only in the last 20 kilometers people started swarming from their houses and creating traffic on their ways to their jobs. Even though the aid stations were still not set and there were no spectators, I really enjoyed the run 😉
Regarding the elevation and course turns I would rate the course even a bit quicker than last years. Elevation profiles of both courses were estimated with Polar RS800 that has barometric altimeter. The 2014 course has approx. 110 m of elevation gain, while the old one had approx. 130 m. It will be nice to run down Brdnikova for a change, although we will pay for that later at Hradetskega. Even though I don’t see many spectators turning out between km 25 and km 33, I expect the last few kilometers to be quite enjoyable, as we will be running through strict city center.
Having run multiple international marathons I would say that one-lap course is unquestionably more prestigious. Actually, if I would consider running another international marathon, I would really need a strong reason to choose a course with multiple laps. Like Olympic Games or Championship race 😉 But with domestic marathon in my home town, things are somewhat different. I really do not find it boring running twice through the same streets, if that means more spectators. And besides, you are usually so tired on the second lap, that the first one seems like a distant past! So all in all, I believe that this is again the step in the right direction for Ljubljana marathon. Although I am biased, I really believe that this will narrow the gap toward other European major city marathons. Now I just hope, that the finish line remains in the city center 🙂