With the Macedonian capital city of Skopje enjoying greater air links with the rest of Europe, the Wizz Air Skopje Marathon is becoming a popular destination for runners looking to travel further afield.
The 12th edition of the event takes place on Sunday and organisers are expecting record participation figures this year. The race has also been given a five star endorsement by European Athletics Running For All.
A celebration of Europe
The Skopje Marathon takes place on 8 May this year and the significance of the date is that it coincides with Europe Day celebrations. Macedonia is a fervent supporter of the European Union and hopes to gain accession one day.
The country’s biggest sporting event
Runners from across Europe - and further afield - will take to the streets of the Macedonian capital where they will run to raise money for charity, to smash personal goals or simply to run for their health and well-being.
The Skopje Marathon has a relatively short history but the event is the biggest event in the country’s sporting calendar. Based on preliminary entries, organisers expect 7500 runners from 45 countries to take part across the four events on the programme: marathon, half marathon, marathon relay and 5km.
If you are looking for a quick time, the Skopje Marathon offers a flat course without too many twists and turns. Half marathon-runners can also choose to run with pacemakers who have been assigned the task of leading four pace groups: 1:45, 2:00, 2:15 and 2:30. Half marathon-runners complete one loop of the city centre course while marathon-runners run the same loop twice.
Regardless of the city or the distance, the camaraderie between runners is a constant of mass participation races around the world.
Companies on a local and national scale consider the Skopje Marathon a great team-building experience. Employees who might not regularly run still participate in the races on an annual basis. The 5km and the marathon relay are particularly popular team building races.
A city of contrasts
The Macedonian capital is packed full of historic monuments and archaeological sites and the Old Bazaar - one of the city’s principal attractions - is the biggest preserved bazaar in the Balkans.
But while keen to preserve sites of interest, Skopje is also in the midst of a city-wide rejuvenation. The government launched project ‘Skopje 2014’ in 2010 and set aside 500 million euros to regenerate fledgling parts of the city.
The Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra hall, the Museum of Archaeology, the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle and the National Theatre, which was destroyed in the 1963 earthquake, are among the principal cultural sites to be finished in recent years and should be frequented by any visitor to the city.
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