The old (walled) town of Dubrovnik doubles as King’s Landing in television’s Game of Thrones. One can see some of the impressive architecture showcased in this TV show from various vantage points around town, and this adds a pretty neat dimension to the views that are available on a Dubrovnik road run. Our first run took us from our accommodation near the main bus terminal (often major bus terminals are located in the sketchiest parts of town, but this is not true of Dubrovnik) around the port and marina on the sea front through Babin Kuk, the classy resort area of Lapad, through a unexpected park (which threw a neat little trail with a bit of vertical gain our way) back to the road around the marina and on to our great little spot at Guest House Dada for a total of ~12km (route pictured below – check out the “Move” on the Suunto Movescount website). The weather was great, the locals encountered along the way were friendly and all in all we both had a great run. Little did we know that, running-wise, things were only going to get better in this wonderful part of the world.
While in Dubrovnik we also did a speed workout, running 500m repeats along the sea front along the marina (route below). We recommend an early start to minimize the foot traffic encountered, but the flat, smooth terrain is well suited to faster running.
After 2 nights in Dubrovnik we headed over to the small island of Mljet by ferry. We were very excited at the prospect of running on this beautiful little island as roughly one third of the island area consists of the stunningly beautiful Mljet National Park replete with gorgeous lakes and a myriad off-road paths and trails.
Access to the park (which is located on the west side) is best done via the bustling and well serviced (we even found soy milk!) village of Polace, but we first wanted to explore the eastern (and southern) parts of the island and thus we opted to spend a few nights in the less bustling and less well serviced (no soy milk!) village of Sobra.
From Sobra, which is located roughly in the “center” of the island, we did an explorer’s run to Saplunara, another beach town on the easternmost tip of the island. This run was around 16km, one way, along a well maintained, but very quiet, highway. The run offered spectacular views of the island and the Adriatic seas around the coast, and the road surface was really good, providing yet another a wonderful road running experience. It should be noted, though, that there is rarely a flat stretch on this 16km trot to Saplunara (see the Movescount moves here and here), and the total vertical gain, one way, is 340m.
Upon reaching Saplunara, however, a wonderful beach oasis awaits the hot and weary runner! We spent a lovely, leisurely hour or two swimming in the crystal clear, blue Adriatic waters, sunbathing, and eating fruit purchased from a well stocked local market before tackling the same 16km stretch back to Sobra. A highly recommended road run to anybody who doesn’t shy away from the odd 32+km day with a bit of vertical gain thrown in.
But the absolute running highlight was exploring the Mljet National Park. What made the park especially well suited to running is the fact that in addition to the many trails to select from, some quite technical and steep, there are also lots of paved tracks which allows for some of the best road running either of us has ever had the pleasure of doing. The paved tracks run along the perimeter(s) of the two lakes that dominate the park’s features, and offer non-stop, fantastic turquoise water views. The running surface is very good and the track is quite level.
Exploring the trails in the park is easy and rewarding. Trails are well marked and most are well maintained as well. We did find at least one trail which doesn’t seem to receive too much attention; there were several downed trees to climb over on this trail but it was still very easy to follow. There are maps available for purchase at the park entrances, and there are maps on large signposts at a few locations around the park. We took a picture of the park’s trail layout and found it sufficient to explore the park. The fact that the park’s geography is dominated by the two large lakes makes it relatively easy to remain oriented while on the trails.
We ran one longish exploration run (see map below), which provided some gnarly, technical single track, some flowing, wide single track and awe inspiring views.
All the pictures below were taken on this 17km run:
While we loved the trails, we are currently training for the Athens Marathon The Authentic coming up in November, and thus ran a few tempo and interval runs on the paved tracks around the lakes too.
We found the Mljet National Park to be a peaceful sanctuary to explore and enjoyed many miles of running bliss during our 8-day stay in Polace.