Dusted off your running shoes yet?
Football, yes, of course!
These days, especially in Croatia, with everyone under utter suspense on the eve of its historic opportunity to win the World Cup this coming Sunday has us gripped.
Of all its features, statistics, shouts, comments, off sides, referee blindness, wasted nerves, rivers of beer, jitters, rooting and whatever, at the end of the match, what matters is the score. Yet to score and to win, takes lots of – running.
Running has been conquering more and more streets and roads all over the world over the last decade or so. General awareness about health joined hands (or feet) with a pair of running shoes – and there you go. An estimation is that active runners in Europe alone exceed 50 million who spend some 9.6 billion euro each year!
If you are a runner, you can still make it to some of the remaining of 300 marathon races in China during this year alone, for example.
Running has become a style of living, that is just like with football, Croatia excels in recreational running, among other things. The number of races of all sorts is increasing, there is practically no day without a race somewhere, in a city or in the countryside, alike.
”People participating in a race are not only interested in running as such. They also want to see the place, to taste some local food and drinks, to learn about history. We encourage every local community to take an active part – runners also spend money, their local economy benefits. Altogether, running turns into an amalgamate of a healthy lifestyle, the inciting of the competitive spirit, the economy, tourism, arts, culture, you name it. Many, many people with successful businesses run as well, they are actors and clients at the same time, that is why big trade marks sponsor races all over the world. Running is a brilliant combination of positive things in life,” says Berislav Sokač who founded Run Croatia back in 2016, together with his sister Iva and Sven, a family friend, as a project of positive energy through running.
Iva Hafner and Berislav Sokac
In only two years, Run Croatia has organised 26 races.
”Putting each race into a much wider picture, connecting sport, business and tourism. Concrete figures speak in favour of running, an average runner stays for 3.4 days and brings along 2.8 persons,” says Berislav.
The project is growing fast in different directions, introducing totally new elements into running as such:
”Run Croatia is devoted to development of various ‘added values’ to running. After copious work, we have recently started implementing our standard book with our first ‘’run friendly hotel’’, at Sveti Martin na Muri, with it being the very first ‘’run friendly’’ hotel in the world. Labelled as such, the hotel becomes branded on the market worldwide, and the clients, the runners, can enjoy some benefits and services offered nowhere else. Healthy drinks in the mini bar, healthy food in its restaurants, energy bars, late check out times so that one can have a shower and time enough to pack up comfortably after a race, special body massages, etc.
It also includes a high quality running shirt, a cap, a race map, different options for running for beginners and all the others. If you think about it, the benefits are there also for the local producers of food and everybody else.”
But that’s far from all.
”Running implies health, health implies beauty. We’ve found a perfect and extremely collaborative and supportive partner in the Bagatin Polyclinic Zagreb, our first labeled ”run friendly” partner that offers dedicated individual attention to each client according to their individual wishes and possible issues. There, we have a couple of slogans that say a lot, like ”Run with a smile” and ”Like the skin you are in’’. We run to be healthy, but we want to be sure of it while feeling fit and – beautiful.”
Run Croatia does not stop there, either.
“With all this work and the incessant activities, we’re actually only just starting – we want to create an eco-system, interconnected through the ”run friendly’’ label – a clinic can be labeled only if in partnership with a run friendly hotel. Furthermore, one element for the label is going to be healthy food. We have started cooperating with producers of eco food, we have signed two agreements already, one with the largest producers of cherries in Europe (Trešnja doo near Nin), and with a big producer of aronia (Puškarić near Ogulin) – the hotels are then provided with direct supply from a certified producer and can vouch for the genuine, local origin of the food to their clients.”
Taken the diversity of possible services, it seems that Run Croatia has no limits.
”Our crown project at the moment is our e-Wallet, under way and in cooperation with several banks, which will offer e-payment through a blockchain 2.0 loyalty, with bonus points. With payment as the final action, with all that has been quoted, our system will close the circle and make the Run-Friendly programme truly wholesome.”
Any run-friendly message?
”Yes. Let’s stop turning back and talking about missed occasions, let’s stop just talking about the potentials. Let’s turn this potential into socially and individually beneficial resources, for each of the 365 days in a year!”
We owe a special thanks for some information here to Goran Rihelj.