Sofia, one of the oldest capitals in Eastern Europe, and the capital and cultural and economic center of Bulgaria, is where I checked off the most recent destination on my quest to run the world. The beautiful Balkan city played host to the Wizz Air Sofia (half) Marathon, making Bulgaria country # 45 of #MoniqueRuns50!!!
Approximately 2500 people participated in the 20th edition of the Wizz Air Sofia Marathon, which was made up of several different events: the marathon, half marathon (which I participated in), and 10K. In the past there was a family/children’s fun run, however, that event was eliminated this year, due to the limit on the number of participants because of COVID.
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And while I’m on the subject of COVID, the race organizer’s reaction concerning the virus was very similar to that of Rock ‘N’ Roll Santiago, which I ran in March, just days before Coronavirus basically shut the world down. As in Santiago, there wasn’t much hysteria regarding Coronavirus, however, the race organization did take precautions, including limiting the number of people allowed inside the race expo venue at a time, and asking that distance be kept and buffs/face masks be worn in common areas such as the bag check area.
The race, which had a staggered start time between 9:30 am – 10 am for the various distances, began at Battenberg Square across from the National Art Gallery. The mostly flat course, with the exception of a couple of minor elevations, immediately goes past Saint Sofia, who, with outstretched arms, seemingly gives her blessing as the race begins. Runners pass several other Sofia landmarks, including Central Mineral Bath, Lion’s Bridge, Sofia Market, and the National Library, before entering the Chavdar Bridge – or what I like to refer to as 6 kilometers of uninspiring highway – then returning to the city center and passing the Vasil Levski monument, and Alexander Nevski and St. Nikolay churches at the final kilometer – HALLELUJAH! – and coming full circle to the finish line at the National Art Gallery. Half marathoners completed this loop once, while marathoners did it twice.
The Garmin-sponsored 10K portion of the race passed the great landmarks, while completely bypassing that dreadful Chavdar Bridge section of the course. They also had pacers. Can you tell I was totally jealous of the 10K runners?
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Let’s be honest, I’m trying to get to 50 in these race/travel limited due to Coronoavirus times, so short of some major disaster or hiccup on the part of the race organizer, I probably won’t be too critical of any race. That being said, that Chavdar Bridge was kinda the devil; much respect to the marathoners who had to face it twice. But seriously, the Wizz Air Sofia Marathon was a good event. It was well organized, with good placement of mile markers and hydration stations every 5 kilometers along the route. Sadly, there weren’t many spectators, though the many volunteers along the way who cheered and clapped, made up for it.
I’ll give a thumbs up for the race swag, which included a race t-shirt, a sling-style backpack, and of course, the finisher’s medal.
If you’re interested in participating in the Zagreb Marathon in the future, get more information on the event and how to register on the marathon’s website.
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HOW TO REGISTER
If you’re interested in participating in the Wizz Sofia Marathon in the future, visit the website for dates and details.
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