Every first Wednesday of the month, a small, but a bit strange and definitely persistent group of people gather around at the bottom of the Medvednica Mountain near Zagreb so they could run to the top of that same mountain. Nothing special, you’re probably thinking, except that this starts at 05:30 am. Why? So that everybody could finish in time to go to work. Unfortunately, we’re still not a promised land as one Croatian rock group sings and after the morning run we need to go work, well most of us anyway.
When it started?
The league started in 2007 and this is its 11th season.
So how does it work?
Quite simple, you get up at 04:00 or 04:30 (depending where you live), do your morning routine, sit in a car or on a bike or motorcycle, drive to Bliznec (parking lot at the bottom of the mountain), do a bit of stretching, put your head lamp, stand in the middle of the road and wait until you hear 3,2,1 UPRIIIII (of course this is one of those words that you can’t translate literally, but the meaning would be something like push it or go hard) and then off you go. Naturally, once you manage to get to the top of the mountain you still need to go back to the bottom. On foot, of course.
How does the trail look like?
As I already said you start on the middle of the asphalt road, but you run on it for about 15 m and then immediately turn on a single trail. Because it’s a single trail, everybody starts to run as crazy that first 15m so they could catch a good position, because nobody wants to get stuck behind somebody that is slower than him. It’s always fun to watch the start and I never get tired of it. The first single trail is short (approximately 250 meters) and then you have 250 m of wide dirt path on which you can pass other runners because the next 200 m is single trail again. After that you have a mix of dirt trails, wide forest trails, gravel roads and single trails that lead you to the top of Medvednica Mountain. On your way you go five times across the asphalt road that goes to the top, and the last 150 m of the trail is paved concrete cubes. The whole trail is 4600 m long.
Regarding the altitude, you start at 330 m, and go the top which is on 1033 m, so you need to climb 703 m. Two toughest climbs are in the first half of the race. First one is quite short and is just 200 m long (second single trail in the beginning of the race) in which you cover approximately 60 m of altitude. The second one is a bit longer.
It is called Gips (plaster) because the story goes that legendary Croatian skiers Janica and Ivica Kostelić (sister and brother who won 10 Olympic medals combined) used to train walking and running on that hill. Their father coached them and his nickname is Gips so this climb today carries his nickname.
After that, the trail constantly changes with flat parts and small uphill of which some are more and some less steep. On your way to the top some parts of the trail are single, some parts are wide forest roads and some parts are macadam roads. Also, a few times you will go across asphalt mountain road. Caution is not necessary because that early in the morning nobody is driving, even the wild boars are still sleeping, probably.
In the end you arrive at the top of Medvednica where hot tea and biscuits are not waiting for you and all mountain huts are still closed. So you turn and go downhill back to your car.
JGL away round
JGL away round is not common. This event occurs only when all stars are in perfect order and all of the fairies and forest dwarfs agree that it is time for one more JGL away round. So what is it? It’s a normal JGL round, except that it’s not held on Medvednica Mountain, but is being run on some other mountain, in some other part of Croatia. Till today there were just four rounds of JGL away. Why? Simply, as I already said for this event everything needs to be in perfect order and that means – first Wednesday of the month and some holiday on that day. Of course Mr. Saber needs to give his blessing as well.
Records and statistic of JGL
This is the 11th season of JGL and till now there were 120 rounds.
Till now there were 463 people who ran JGL (154 women and 309 men).
Average number of people per round is 38.68 people (W: 9.05 M: 29.63).
This year’s average number of people per round till now is 50.51 (W: 14.88 M: 35.63).
Most per round: 91 (JGL 7th season – 1. round)
Least people per round: 5 (JGL 1st season – 6. round).
Most women per round: 26 (JGL 6th season – 7. round).
Least women: O (JGL 1st season – 6.round and JGL 2nd season – 4.round).
Men Record: 32:08 (Vedran).
Women Record: 38:39 (Maja).
Most attendance on JGL: Sablja – 116 rounds and Kiki – 104 rounds from 120 possible.
Underground trekking scene…
JGL maybe isn’t big or popular and most of the runners don’t know about it, but it definitely has something appealing, something that will make you wake up at 04:00 in the morning and go run into the woods.
JGL was founded by a guy who caries nickname Sablja (saber) and of course he’s got ideas for more insane and utterly fun races.
This race is held each December on one Friday evening at midnight, and the path makes a transversal of Medvednica Mountain. Why at midnight? So it would be harder, obviously. After you work all day, and then finally come home to relax after a hard week’s work, but noooooo, you decide to go run into the woods. Point of the race is to come from point A to point B in the shortest possible time. But of course there is a catch, the trail isn’t marked, so you need the map of Medvednica Mountain and you can choose your own trails. Most of the people go the same way. How long is it? Well, it depends on which trails you choose and how many times did you get lost; the quickest route is approximately 48 kilometres.
Same thing as Blatersa, except this one is held in May and it starts on Saturday morning.
When you finally finish Blatersa or Traversa you go back the same way. It’s an optional thing.
It’s held in March. You follow the 1M trail from the beginning till the end. Harder than Blatersa or Traversa because it’s longer (approximately 54K) and you do much more ascents and descents.
24 hours S’LJeMana
Last year it was held in July. Point of the game is quite simple; you need to do as many ascents to the top of the mountain in 24 hours as possible. There are 4 possible routes that you can use and combine. The record is 13 times.
If you come to Zagreb and you would like to try something fun, different and bit off the grid don’t hesitate to contact us. We will take you to the best early morning party in town.