From hip artists communities to incredible food, this weekend’s runderlust list brings some perfect Autumn inspiration for a weekend get away
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, once former Yugoslavia until it gained it’s independence in June 1991. As one of the smallest cities, in one of the smallest countries in Europe, it perhaps makes for one of the best capitals in which to combine a marathon with a city break.
Save your legs and take the glass-walled funicular up to the medieval fortress of Ljubljana Castle , then take a mooch through the Old Town’s maze of narrow streets, lined with 19th-century wooden shop fronts, quiet courtyards and cobblestone passageways.
Don’t miss the Triple Bridge, designed by Slovenia’s master of early-Modern minimalism, Jože Plečnik, an architect and urban planner who almost single-handedly transformed the city, creating elegant new structures and remodelling almost everything else, including the river banks.
But for us, what is the real draw of this city (watch out for it on our 2020 Run Away Race Trip list coming soon) is the amazing food on offer and the exciting artistic neighbourhood of Metelkova, which is a bit like Berlin before it became gentrified.
A former Austrian-Hungry army barracks, this was squatted in 1993 by a group of alternative artists and it’s now a an amazing, creative neighbour with graffiti, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and countless cool bars and pubs.
As for the marathon course? It’s essentially flat and vaguely star-shaped, leading out and into the car-free inner city a couple of times. A nice way to keep things interesting – and as most of the ‘spokes’ are pretty straight, fast too.
We’ve taken groups to this fantastic city twice, once for this race and once for the marathon. Why do we always take groups back? Because it is a super cool city with warm weather to give you a last gasp of sun before we descend into winter. And because we combine our running trips with great food – and this is one city that does that well.
The race itself is flat and fast with great support along the route. ‘Go, chica, go, chica,’ you hear all the way round the course which ends back down the harbour. From there, it’s a short walk down to the beach for a recovery dip followed by a huge paella, with plump prawns and mussels and zesty with fresh lemon juice.
You can visit the incredible old city, complete with medieval city gates and traces of the city’s once Muslim history and enjoy the coolness of the younger, more hip neighbourhoods like Russafa.
This is a great runderlust destination and one that we shall be returning to. Keep your eye on our Run Away travel trips.
Oh, and did we mention the wine…?
October is a great time to visit Venice when the weather is still often pleasant (although of course there’s always a chance of flooding) but the crowds have thinned out, as much as they ever do in this UNESCO World Heritage fairyland.
Being the city built on water, the Venice Marathon will suit those preferring a flat course, but you will run across 14 of the city’s 400 bridges. The other main challenge here may be to resist the urge to stop for selfies as you check off the famous sights!
Save those for after the race however, when you will feel justified in putting your feet up in style – after all that hard work, why not treat yourself to a gondola ride through those iconic vistas whilst enjoying ‘just one Cornetto’….? And maybe a couple of ‘Cicchetti’ (tapas, Venentian -style). Oh, and maybe one or two Bellinis…