Dubrovnik Half Marathon
A passion for half marathons is the bond between the sister cities:
Monterey, California + Dubrovnik, Croatia
The sister-city relationship between the City of Monterey and Dubrovnik started in 2005 to help Dubrovnik develop community-supported events and volunteerism through sports and cultural activities. As a result, the Dubrovnik Half Marathon, 2K Run The Wall, 5K and Kids’ Day were born and are thriving today.
Two amazing coastal cities with a common vision
The walled city of old Dubrovnik, with ancient buildings and antique artifacts, is Croatia’s century-old jewel on the Mediterranean coast. One of the major destinations for Adriatic-bound travelers, the city abounds in visitors during the four-month summer season.
Monterey, California, is one of the highest acclaimed coastal destinations in the United States and a dynamic community steeped in historical landmarks and cultural events, along with top attractions such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Monterey attracts runners, cyclists, golfers, car enthusiasts and scuba divers year-around from around the world, with many major events focusing on these sports. The Big Sur International Marathon (BSIM) has been rated as a top marathon in the world with an elite course that takes you “running on the edge of the western world.”
In support of the partner resolutions to extend the tourism season through sports and cultural activities for the City of Dubrovnik, the cities embarked on a project to have the City of Dubrovnik host a half marathon running event in the off season in April. A half marathon would provide a perfect sporting event opportunity and the City of Monterey and their partners have the knowledge to support such an undertaking. Dubrovnik already had the ideal backdrop and the infrastructure in place, it just needed an organization model to follow.
The sister-city relationship will be felt for generations
The inaugural Dubrovnik Half Marathon took place on May 10, 2015, with a Kids’ Run and 2K Run The Wall on May 9. Nearly 500 participants gathered from far and wide representing nearly 40 countries to partake in the multi-day festivities, with 480 volunteers making it happen.
The goal of diversifying tourism in non-summer months as a source of local well-being and expanding the city’s economic base has been realized with this annual event. The half marathon opened up a whole different type of tourism for Dubrovnik. It is relatively easy for people throughout Europe to travel as was evidenced in attracting runners from almost 40 countries.
This project has bonded Monterey and Dubrovnik closer than ever. In an article dated, March 6, 2016, the Race Director Alen Boskovic was interviewed about the 2nd annual Dubrovnik Half Marathon on May 1, 2016. In it he explains how the idea of a Dubrovnik Half Marathon was born. “The very beginnings of a half marathon in Dubrovnik are closely connected to Dubrovnik’s sister in California, Monterey. Fred Meurer, the former Monterey City Manager, and Wally Kastner, the former race director of the Big Sur Marathon in Monterey, gave the idea to make a similar event to the marathon in Monterey marathon.
The collaboration has been excellent for both communities. We are not only representing our cities in this project, but we are spending time with our friends. The inaugural event created such an atmosphere of camaraderie – people from so many countries bonding with one another through the sport of running. To see the Kids’ Run and the 2K Run The Wall, the participants, the crowds gathered to watch, the parents, the siblings, cousins and friends, in the walled city of old Dubrovnik – it was mesmerizing. It made the staff from the city of Monterey so proud to be involved and that the sister city relationship a catalyst.
Not only has the City of Dubrovnik learned how to bring a world-class sporting event home, they have learned so much about how to bring in their local community to help and participate; most notably their youth and teens. They provide an opportunity for their youth to learn new skills, interact with a larger, more diverse community, and raise awareness for staying active and healthy. Dubrovnik has a rich cultural history in team sports like water polo. This event encouraged interest from locals, both adults and youth, to get involved in individual sports.
For Dubrovnik, the impact will be felt through current generations and for generations. For Monterey, the pride knowing we helped them succeed, as well as the enormous amount learned just by being a part of the process will also leave a lasting impression of just how valuable sister city relationships can be. The cities are bonded as sisters; the people are bonded as friends.