Run Into 2017! 39th Midnight New Year’s Day Race – Varaždin 2016/17

Total Croatia News

Varaždin’s New Year’s Day race, traditional since 1977, is the first race in the world which begins exactly at midnight on the crossing from the Old into the New Year.

The more I travel, the more I find little quirks that rarely get a mention. 

Take gorgeous Varaždin in late December, for example, a sleepy place one would think, but actually a place which has held a unique New Year sporting tradition each year for almost 40 years, attracting competitors from as far away as Ethiopia. Is your New Year’s resolution to get fit and healthy? If yes, could you possibly make a better start than this?

In the words of local organising athletics club, Sloboda:

The 39th edition of this unique race, at midnight on December 31, 2016, into January 1, 2017, will be organised by the Community of Sports Associations of Varaždin town with the help of previous organiser, Athletics Club Sloboda and under the auspices of Varaždin town.

The upcoming race will start from Kapuciner square in Varaždin and will be part of the large traditional manifestation Advent in Varaždin.

The start and finish of the 6 kilometre long Ney Year’s Day race is on Kapuciner square, with two laps on Varaždin’s streets and squares. This year’s race is much more attractive and is one of the strongest in the region due to the prizes, with every participant receiving a shirt and medal. Also, there is no starting fee.

Established during a movement of mass running, in Varaždin which was then the centre of running on Croatia and a “race factory,” the New Year’s Day race took its deserved spot in the running calendar.

Varaždin enthusiasts Mladen Mavar, Boris Kožar, Petar Jelenečki, with the support of AK Sloboda and the former Athletics Union of Croatia, organised the first New Year’s Day race with a start at midnight on December 31, 1977. 33 runners took parts from Zagreb, Murksa Sobota in Slovenia, Sombor in Serbia and Varaždin. Five categories were open, with the winner in the senior category being Mladen Mavar, who ran six kilometres in 21 minutes and 31 seconds. It is interesting to mention the youngest runner Melita Bernat was 8 years old, while the oldest one Emil Zeljak, 81 years old. In the very next race 165 runners took part.

The last, 38th edition of the race gathered over 200 runners from Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary. Winners came from Hungary, Gregor Laszlo and Zita Kascer.

We invite all lovers of running to participate in this unique sports event and run into 2017!

39th New Year’s Day race – Varaždin 2016
01.01.2017. – 00:00:00
ORGANISER: Community of Sports Associations of Varaždin town
CO-ORGANISER: Athletics Club Sloboda of Varaždin town
PATRON: Varaždin town
START: Kapuciner square, Zrinski and Frankopan street, Miroslav Krleža street, Zagrebačka street, Cesarčeva street, Preradovićeva street, Pavlinska street, King Tomislav square, Franjevački square, Kaićeva street, Vrazova
FINISH: Kapuciner square
REGISTRATION: online registration is open from Thursday, December 22, 2016 for the 3.200 metre race via link HTTPS://WWW.STOTINKA.HR/ENG/RACE/871/RACE_REGISTRATION, and for the 6.400 metre race via link HTTPS://WWW.STOTINKA.HR/ENG/RACE/864/RACE_REGISTRATION.
Registration is also possible via e-mail: [email protected] or 1 hour before race start at the marked registration spot at Kapuciner square.

It has been claimed that this is the only such race in the world merging the two years, but it seems that the idea has been copied elsewhere in recent years, but the origins are in this beautiful town in northern Croatia. Why not come and experience it? Check out the video report of a previous race below.


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