#49: Zagreb Advent Run and five whys you need to go for it!

Not sure you know, although many of you might already, that Zagreb has an awesome Advent market. For three years in a row it got voted the best Advent place in Europe but couldn’t “apply” for 2018 since it got 2015-2017. Still, three years in a row is not a small thing.

Zagreb offers events and markets throughout the year and tourist from all around the world are coming to see what’s so interesting going on in Zagreb. Besides 900+ years of rich history, Zagreb offers a lot more. Well, I wanna tell you about something that happens during that 4 week period before Christmas – Zagreb Advent Run.


It is a race that started in 2016 but although planned to be ran in downtown Zagreb it had to be moved to the banks of the river Sava in the last minute. Still, the bold crew from Run Croatia did not get discouraged and pushed even harder to make an awesome running event in 2017, when a huge mass of runners with red Santa hats shredded the streets of Zagreb’s downtown. What a sight that was. The 2018 offered the same scenario!

Route and elevation

So, without further ado, let’s check those 5 whys:

  1. The Advent time race – as much as I love my city which looks better and better each year, I’d say that if you are a tourist, the Advent Market would be the most remarkable time to visit Zagreb. The downtown is just way too appealing to be missed. So in all that flashy greatness, Run Croatia team projected a route to pass by Zagreb’s main squares with bunch of people that will be cheering for you. The crowd is not hysterical, don’t worry, it’s not that kind of a race but will push you in your efforts while you enjoy your run. You can feel the Christmas spirit in the air. The tempo in this race is not the “main theme”, although there are awards for those who can run fast and aim on standing at the podium. The race will host many many participants, not necessarily runners and since it’s the festive time of the year, the organizers made sure this awesome event ends up in the same fashion, with a party in the Westin Hotel.
  2. The river of Santa hats – in it’s second year, in 2017 the race package offered red Santa hats! This was a blast! A red hats’ river was “flowing” through the city on a beautiful sunny winter day. The feeling was phenomenal both for the runners as well as the crowd that was cheering along the way. I am pretty sure this was not the first run ever with Santa hats but I would say the first one here in Zagreb. At least on this larger scale. Runners were also invited to make it a costume run as well, so many of them ran in some crazy outfits, wrapped up as presents and all. Advent Run is not the same if our dear friend PandaMyWay isn’t there all costumed up and ready to go! It was fantastic! 2018 offered the same scenario but with the blue Santa hats. Clear blue sky and the river of blue hats this time was again a winning recipe for the event. People lov ed it once again. Talking to Run Croatia team, the good practice with Santa caps will prevail this year as well so we can expect this to stay part of the package. Not very likely to have it in green color because Grinch has no chance stealing this Christmas spirit with all of the smiling faces gathered around this cheerful event. Now, all jokes aside, green hats are worn by elves, Santa’s helpers so this could be done as well. It’s all in good marketing and I have no worries when it comes to that. Run Croatia‘s crew has high standards raises their bar high when it comes to organization of running events.
  3. A lot of participating options (5K / 10K / Nordic walking) – as I already mentioned, this race is not so much about winning. Whoever participated in the Zagreb Advent Run would understand this. It’s about the feeling that overtakes you. Event organizers understand this very well so they offered three options to participate. The route is 5K circle so you can enjoy running one simple circle or two for those who wish to repeat the thrill from the first round. Those who do not run will also have their option – the Nordic Walking circle. This is also a dog friendly race so you can take your pet to run with you. Trust me, we did it. Freud, Freud’s Runners’ mascot ran with us already to prove it. There are also several starting zones depending on which category you fall under:
    • Red Zone – For runners finishing the 5 km race in 21 minutes or under; for runners finishing the 10 km race in 41 min. or under
    • Blue Zone – For recreational runners
    • Green Zone – For Nordic Walking walkers
    • Yellow Zone – For families with kids and dogs
  4. Running Downtown Zagreb – not many races go through Zagreb’s downtown since it takes a lot of effort to get many blessings from city authorities as well as manpower to cover the race. The race starts in front of the Westin Hotel and the route is connecting several Zagreb’s main points to include main Advent Market’s squares (Strossmayer, Tomislav, Zrinjevac and Ban Jelacic), Ilica street, Mimara museum, Marulic and Mazuranic squares as well as some other interesting city spots. The race route is secured and blocked for traffic so you can enjoy it in full feeling safe. Throughout the whole race you are running on the asfalt (tarmac) and the elevation is almost none existing. This can be considered a very fast race if you wanna make it that way. Entirely up to you.
  5. Good cause – last but not least you need to know that the part of the funds from your race registration go to a good cause and this year funds will be donated to Healthy Under the Sun Association raising melanoma awareness. Last year Run Croatia and Millenium promocija donated 100.000 kunas (approx. $15.000) to the Croatian Diabetes Association. So, all of you indecisive and hesitating, maybe this will change you heart.
2018 crew with Freud #freudsrunners

Although this article is coming out after the early bird registration has finished, I am still hoping you will find this piece of article motivating enough to register for this great and funny race that will fire up your hart to keep you warm in those low December temperatures. If you are planning to visit Zagreb during the Advent and you are a runner, this would be an awesome way to blend some experiences – travel and sports.

Hope to see you there!


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