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Race previews Ston Wall Marathon

27 March 2024, 2pm

This small marathon on the Dalmatian coast has much to offer

Taken with a grain of salt

Ston Wall Marathon
Sun 22 September 2024

Looking ahead | 22 September 2024 Ston Wall Marathon, Croatia

The Ston (pronounced like stone) Marathon is a special race that has been held since 2008 on the historic walls of Ston, a small town near Dubrovnik in Croatia.

Dubrovnik is well known as a world historic and tourist attraction. Not far away lies the small town of Ston, where walls were built in the Middle Ages to protect the Republic of Dubrovnik from foreign invaders. These walls stand strong today and are the longest preserved fortifications in Europe.

A group of runners and running enthusiasts from Croatia came up with the idea to run over those walls 20 years ago, and in 2008 they started organising a race along the walls of Ston – the unique Ston Wall Marathon. The race is held every year at the end of September when the summer heat of southern Dalmatia subsides.

This is not a big, crowded race with tens of thousands of runners and noisy fans along the course, which many urban races offer. An average of 300-400 runners take part in the Ston Marathon each year. The race is international – more than 50% of competitors are from abroad. Many runners come on vacation to Dubrovnik or the islands of southern Dalmatia and align their vacation with this one-of-a-kind race along the walls of Ston.

The Ston Marathon, like many running events today, offers several race distances so that runners of all levels can find something to enjoy. The shortest race is 4km and runs along the very walls of Ston. It starts at sea level and quickly climbs up steep steps almost to the top of the fortification. The path rises quickly up to a height of 140m in a very intense ascent. The greatest reward for the runners is the spectacular view from the top of the walls. Runners of the 4 km race finish in the historic town of Ston.

The 15km race is more demanding. It continues after descending from the walls of Ston onto the southern part of the Pelješac peninsula. Here runners pass a shallow sea lagoon where one of the oldest sea salt pans in Europe is still in use today. Runners continue south surrounded by white stone and aromatic Mediterranean herbs on one side and the warm, clear Adriatic Sea on the other.

The most demanding option is the 42km race, which continues towards the rather wild and uninhabited interior of Pelješac. The race here is mainly on paved roads, but there are also parts that would be suitable for lighter trail races. At the end of the race the organiser provides unique gifts for all runners – a medal crafted from local stone and a packet of sea salt from the nearby salt pans.

Arriving in Ston is easiest via Dubrovnik Airport, which in the summer months is well-connected to European and international capitals. But there is good news for those who prefer to drive down Croatia’s stunning coastline – the new Pelješac Bridge shortens the drive from the north to the south of Croatia significantly.

For more details about the race itself, organisation and participation, check our website or Facebook. See you in STON.

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