Over the past few weeks thousands have voted in the WMRA (World’s Mountain Running Association) for their favourite mountain race and Šmarna Gora Mountain Run has been pronounced winner.
Despite the fact that Šmarna Gora with 669m can hardly be referred to as a mountain (but merely a hill), and that narrow trails and limited space on the summit prevent the organizers to host a mass event, the event itself is highly popular on a global scale. Its long history, the calibre of runners it has attracted over the years, its welcoming atmosphere and the fact that it remains close to its roots as a pure, unspoilt mountain race all contributed to its popularity.
After 40 years of the race and after hosting 18 years the World Cup final and 25 years of the Slovenian Cup final, Šmarna Gora has also been awarded with “the greatest mountain race of all times” title. It beat the most popular shortlisted 10 long distance races and 12 classic distance races. 4 from each group went through to the quarter final stage. These were: Sierre Zinal, K42 Argentina, Canfranc Canfranc and Three Peaks Race from the long distance races and Šmarna Gora, Mount Washington Road Race, Grossglockner Berglauf and Snowdon International from the classic distance.
The Šmarna Gora hill is a popular hiking spot in Ljubljana. The top of the hill, accessible by 15 well-maintained, waymarked and mostly relatively easy routes, offers beautiful views of the Kamnik and Julian Alps, the Ljubljana basin and the distant Dolenjska region with Mount Trdinov vrh. The hilltop is occupied by a restaurant and a Baroque church of the Mother of God, built in the first half of the 18th century. The church was the work place of the “Priest of Triglav”, the legendary clergyman, composer and mountaineer Jakob Aljaž, born in the little village of Zavrh at the foot of the hill. Šmarna gora’s oldest sight is a plague column erected by those who survived plague and the struggle with the Turks. Another attraction sited on top of the hill is a famous wishing bell, believed to fulfil the wishes of those who ring it.