We're off to Slovakia for a virtual run around Bratislava with our local guide, Jozef Pukalovic.
Tell us a little about yourself and your relationship with running?
My first sporting love was football. I played from six years old and managed to make it as a professional, playing for a team that finished top of the Slovak national league. My biggest sporting achievement was playing in a UEFA cup game against Chelsea FC.
I studied law at university and upon graduation, I combined playing football and working with my dad in our family law company. After some years, I discovered running and that interest eventually led to the creation of our own sports agency. We began organising sports and running events in 2005.
Jozef (far right of picture) at the CSOB Bratislava Marathon with his father, brother and Hugh Jones, general secretary of AIMS and former London Marathon winner
Describe the running culture in Bratislava?
Bratislava as the capital city of Slovakia has a rich history in running. The oldest race in our country is a 10km run called the Devín - Bratislava National Run which has been going for almost 100 years. When we started organising events in 2005, running was not particularly popular in the country and was only really for serious runners. Since then, it's popularity has soared and the running culture in Bratislava is now on a really high level.
Our agency organises 4 of the 5 biggest running events in Bratislava including the biggest running event in our country - the CSOB Bratislava Marathon. As well as this, we organise a night run, a women's run and we partner with the aforementioned Devín - Bratislava National Run.
Where are the best places to run in Bratislava?
I love running along the embankment by the Danube river, making sure to include Sad Janka Kráľa park along the way which is the oldest municipal park in Europe.
Then there is Zelezna Studienka, our city forest park which has many great trails and is perfect for running.
I also enjoy running in the city, particularly through the beautiful old town. I like to combine this with a run to our Slavin monument which sits atop a small hill not so far from the city centre.
Are you a member of a running club in Bratislava?
We created our own running club called the Bratislava Marathon Sport Club. We have around 20 members, most of whom are the leading distance runners in Slovakia.
Tibor Sahajda, our marathon champion, has a marathon PB of 2:15 and is attempting to qualify for Tokyo Olympics. Marek Hladik is half-marathon national champion and we have also some very fast ladies in our team.
Where is the best place to buy running gear in Bratislava?
We have a really good partnership with Top4Running, an online running store that offers a great selection of running products. We actually had our own running store some years ago but we closed it because economically, it was not a success story.
Tell us about the best local races in Bratislava?
CSOB Bratislava Marathon
Telekom Night run
Our night run with 5000 runners. An iconic 10km course with a light and music show and a fantastic atmosphere.
Our annual run for women and girls. 4km & 10km course options with 3500 participants.
Devin - Bratislava National Run
Baba - Kamzik
I love trail and forest running so heartily recommend Baba - Kamzik. This is Slovakia's biggest trail running festival and part of the Golden Trail National Series with 7.5/15/26/50km categories.
An ultra-trail event running along the ridge of the Small Carpathians. Individual and relay options with 40/86/144km categories. A UTMB qualifying race.
Can you recommend a local dish/venue to eat after a long run or race in Bratislava?
Definitely go to the city centre with its bustling, friendly atmosphere. The biggest runs start and finish in Eurovea, the commercial business center close to the Danube river. Everyone here is enjoying a meal and drinks after a race and there is a lot of positive emotion and a vibrant atmosphere amongst other running addicts!
Thanks to Jozef for taking us on a virtual run around Bratislava!
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