From April 29 to 30, Dubrovnik once again becomes a city of runners and, thanks to the Du Motion Runners Days Dubrovnik sports event, turns into "Dubrovnik in Motion". Today, Du Motion is firmly rooted among the most successful and best organized running events in the region, thanks to the dedication and work of the Dubrovnik Sports Association, the City of Dubrovnik and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board as organizers.
In just a few years, the famous Dubrovnik half-marathon has grown into an internationally recognized multi-day sports and recreational event. This year, Du Motion brings four races – the Dubrovnik Half Marathon, Wall Race, Citizens' 5K Race and Children's Race, as well as accompanying content such as Du Motion Runners' Corner - a meeting place for runners and exhibitors and Du Motion Chat - a series of guest appearances by distinguished lecturers. Ahead of another edition of this very important event for Dubrovnik, we spoke with the General Secretary of the Dubrovnik Sports Association, one of the founders and director of Du Motion, Alen Bošković.
Du Motion started in 2014 and has proved to be the number one sporting event in Dubrovnik - Photo - Du Motion
How did the idea for organizing Du Motion come about, who are the organizers and who supported you all in this initiative?
The project started in 2014 as a collaboration between the sister cities of Monterey California, USA and Dubrovnik. The idea was to organize a half marathon race in Dubrovnik. We started with the preparations of the organization and cooperated with the American partners for the race that was supposed to take place in 2015. The organisers of the project were the Dubrovnik Sports Association in cooperation with the City of Dubrovnik and the Dubrovnik Tourist Board.
During the promotion in the first year, we used the experience of our American partners in the running market, and the support of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board in the tourist market was especially important to us.
How has the event developed over the years, which races does it include today and what does it offer to participants besides the races themselves?
In the first year, we had about 350 participants in the first Dubrovnik Half Marathon, and we also organized the Wall Race, the 5K Charity Race and the Children's Race. We have kept that concept to this day. After the first year, we rebranded and named the entire event Du Motion Runners Days Dubrovnik. With this approach, we wanted to put the runners in the centre of attention. Every year, we added content to the existing concept, so today, in addition to the aforementioned races, the event includes a Runners corner in Lazareti and a joint gathering after the race in Culture Club Revelin. In addition, in the second year, we enabled each runner, using the Du Motion Pass, to visit Dubrovnik museums, walls, the island of Lokrum, public city transport and certain benefits from our partners.
Alen Bošković - Dubrovnik Half Marathon is sold out months in advance - Photo - Du Motion
Du Motion gathers participants from all over the world. From which countries do the most runners come from, and how many participants visit each event, and how many have you hosted in total since the start of the event? Do the same participants return year after year and how many are new on average?
It should be noted that the main race, the Dubrovnik Half Marathon, is limited to 1,000 participants and is sold out months before the event itself. The race is extremely international. More than 90 percent of the participants come from outside Croatia. Runners from almost 50 countries of the world take part in the race every year, among which the most numerous runners are from the UK, USA, EU countries and neighbouring countries. However, it should be emphasized that runners come from all continents, so we often have participants from New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Bermuda...
Every year, about 20 percent of runners who participated in previous races return to us, who come either individually, as families or as members of larger groups. So far, we have hosted approximately 10,000 runners from all over the world. A large number of them come with an escort and stay longer in the destination, which increases the number of overnight stays in the pre-season.
How does Dubrovnik stand out as the host of a sports and recreational event and is it different from other world destinations where similar events are held?
We wanted to present and position Du Motion as a destination race on the running market. It took time to impose ourselves on the runners. The goal was to have a small but strong boutique race. This is exactly how we became attractive to runners from all over the world because they were fed up with mass events with tens of thousands of participants. Dubrovnik provides them with hospitality content. Each runner is approached individually. Special attention is given to those recreational athletes who enter the finish line among the last.
All runners have an equally important treatment. In Lazareti, at the Runners corner, free products are served along with socializing and entertainment. Special attention is paid to the content of the start package, which greatly exceeds the value of the paid registration fee. I am of the opinion that the direct access to runners and their interaction with the organizer and citizens is one of the main reasons why Du Motion is sold out months in advance every year. After seven years, we managed to prove ourselves and establish ourselves on the running market, which shows the expressed interest in this year's event as well.
On your marks, get set...GO! - Photo - Du Motion
What are the biggest challenges when organizing an event in a historic city protected by UNESCO, through its narrow streets, passages and walls, and how did you overcome them? How important is the cooperation between city institutions and the citizens themselves?
The organization of Du Motion is a big challenge. The start and finish lines are both located on Stradun. This requires complex preparation and coordination with the competent city services. It is necessary to obtain all permits for the use of public areas, to carry out the demanding logistics of bringing equipment and props inside the walls and at the same time to enable undisturbed life within the city core. The most demanding thing is to organize a race along the city walls. Coordinators and volunteers are deployed along the walls and take care of the runners' safety. Visitors are not allowed to enter the walls during the race, which makes this race really special. The old city is a living organism and we, as organizers, must be in symbiosis with our fellow citizens so that the runners have the best conditions during the event. Therefore, we can be very satisfied with the support we regularly receive from the City of Dubrovnik, and especially from fellow citizens who regularly participate in Du Motion as runners, fans or volunteers.
Run The Walls - Photo - Du Motion
How long do the preparations last and how many people participate in the organization and how many in the realization of the event?
Preparations for the event last the whole year, and they start on the day of the end of the event. About forty Du Motion team coordinators volunteer and work throughout the year on the organization, and 600 to 800 volunteers on the actual production of the event. We work on logistics, organization, marketing, promotion and all other tasks. The most demanding part, however, is during the maintenance week, when all year-long preparations have to be coordinated on the field. Coordinators perform all complex tasks and complete tasks in all zones and sectors with young volunteers and city services. From the very beginning, we have implemented world standards of organization.
In addition to cooperation with American partners, we also gained the experience of working and volunteering at various races in Croatia, neighbouring countries, and at American races such as the Boston Marathon, Big Sur Marathon, Portland Marathon, etc. With such an approach, we want to show runners from all over the world that they have chosen a race that is organized according to the highest international and European standards. According to the feedback we receive from the runners every year after the event, we believe that we are succeeding in this.
We are aware that it is the most difficult to maintain quality, that's why we invest a lot in the education of coordinators and volunteers, and thus follow the set global standards.
In what ways does Du Motion affect the reputation and development of Dubrovnik as a city, and also as a tourist destination? What are the economic results and how do you measure the social impact of the event on the local community?
In cooperation with the University of Dubrovnik in 2016, 2019, and 2022, studies were made on the economic effects of Du Motion on the local community. The results of the study show a constant high average stay of participants in the destination exceeding four nights per person, increased non-boarding spending and a total economic effect of almost 2 million euros with approximately 11,000 overnight stays during the Du Motion week. The study also showed that almost 100 percent of respondents want to visit Dubrovnik again as a destination for active vacations, or recommend Du Motion to their friends.
In the pre-season, this event brought new benefits to Dubrovnik in the form of the arrival of target groups of visitors who prefer a sports event as a type of active tourism. I must emphasize that this is the result of the planning of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, the City of Dubrovnik and us as organizers, which proved that Dubrovnik can successfully offer new content in the pre-season. Finally, we should add the importance of Du Motion's added social value and impact on the local community through youth volunteering, encouraging children to play sports, and the humanitarian effect of the citizens' 5K race, which we are particularly proud of. The running project Du Motion is entirely a Dubrovnik product and as such presents Dubrovnik and the Republic of Croatia on the world tourism and running market.
This interview featured on the website of the Dubrovnik Tourist Board – Convention Bureau