Plitvička Jezera National Park is the oldest and biggest Croatian national park. They have been a protected national park since 1949, and since 1979 have been part of UNESCO list of world heritage sites. Tourists from all over the world visit the park to enjoy the unique natural beauty on display. Runners have been able to enjoy competing in marathons in the ►Plitvička Jezera National Park for 33 years. With the growth in popularity of cycling in Croatia, mountain biking enthusiasts got their chance in 2012 and for the last six years have been able to experience the park in the event of their own.
By Zlatko Tomšić/AiC
The event is Adria Bike Maraton and is organized by the team that is responsible for some of the best mass participation bike events in Croatia, like 4 Islands and Fužine 2 sea. It takes place on the third weekend in June and is among the biggest one-day MTB marathons in Croatia with almost a thousand participants.
As the organizers have significant experience, they are good at listening to feedback and learning from past mistakes. This has to lead to incremental changes for the better each year so that the quality of the event is rising, but also the riders that are returning have something new to look forward to each year.
And while the event route does not directly pass the most well-known part of the park, its stunning lakes due to the concerns about the preservation of trails, it is not short on natural beauty.
Choose your route
There are three routes to choose from Easy, Classic, and Epic. Easy is suitable for beginners not only by being shorter (35 km) and having less climbing (650 m) but also by avoiding the technically challenging single-track. Classic is a real test for the recreational cyclist. It is 56 km long with 1100 meters of climbing. The first part of the route is the same as Easy, but in the second half, organizers included some technical singletrack descents to spice up the experience. The epic route is aimed at fittest and most experienced bikers as they need to have physical endurance, technical skills without forgetting to pace themselves and to take care of the nutrition. Epic is 70 km long and climbs 1650 m. Racers that are not sure which length to choose, need not worry, they can pick during the race, and follow the course they feel suits them best on the day.
The route is a mix of asphalt, gravel roads, fire roads and single-track. The terrain is rocky mixed with dirt which makes for a fun and fast riding. There are also considerable portions of flat riding. Besides usual male and female age categories, there is a special competition for E-bikes and for male participants over 100 kg (if you choose to share your weight – applications are voluntary).
To ensure that you do not run out of energy there are three feed stations on the Epic route, two on the Classic and one on the Easy. The stations are well positioned, well organized and have enough food and drinks for all participants.
Where do we start
Start and finish are in the ►Korenica, a small town near the lakes where you can find race office. The race can be a one-day trip, as the start is at a very reasonable 11:00 a.m. and Korenica is a couple of hours drive from either, ►Zagreb, ►Rijeka or ►Split. For those who prefer to sleep in, it is possible to find accommodation either in hotels around the lakes, camps or private rooms.
But this is an event that is more than a bike race, as it can also be enjoyed by the members of the family that are not into mountain biking. During the race, a kids corner is organized where the young ones can play and ride safely, and the whole area deserves a multi-day visit. There is so much to do in the proximity besides just visiting the world famous lakes. If you like to cool down and explore the underground there are Cerovačke Pećine and Baraćeve špilje caves; beautiful Zavratnica lagoon, Sjeverni Velebit and Paklenica national parks and Nikola Tesla memorial center. All these destinations are just an hour’s drive away and are well worth visiting while you are in the area.
Whether a solo one-day getaway or a family week-long trip, you will have a great time around Adria Bike Maraton!