THE NERETVA REGION GEARS UP FOR THIS WEEKEND’S ‘LADJA MARATHON’
Last weekend the cultural/sporting spotlight was
squarely focussed on an event that has been running uninterrupted for
288 years in the small Dalmatian hinterland town of Sinj.
This weekend it will be Metkovic's
turn to stage a traditional event that has become synonymous with the
Neretva region - despite the fact that its showcase manifestation is a
modest 6 years old.
The Maraton Ladja (or 'The Ladja
Marathon') is an amateur sporting/rowing competition of traditional
sailing vessels held on the Neretva River in Metkovic.
To be held on Sunday - it is held once a year, on the second Sunday in
August - the annual cultural/sporting extravaganza is contested over a
course stretching a total distance of 22.5 kilometres, from Metkovic
to the coastal town of Ploce.
The week-long carnival began last
weekend with the traditional race for pole positions in the neighbouring
town of Opuzen. Team ROGOTIN narrowly captured pole-position with a
time of 1 minute and 41.079 seconds, while DONJANI DONJI from the
village of Slivno came in second place with a time of 1 minute and
41.342 seconds. The third placed crew is the SARIC STRUGA team followed
by CEVELJUSA, SKRAPA-MOMICI, SVETI ROKO-PODRUJNICA, DOMAGOJEVI
GUSARI-VID, KRVAVAC II, DONJANI DONJI (Slivno's junior team) and ZUPA
This year's event has attracted a
record number of entries with more than 30 teams of 'ladjari' chasing
the prestigious title of being the best 'in the region'. Unfortunately,
this year's event will also see the notable absence of an Australian
The 'Sons of the Neretva' (Sinovi
Neretve) took part in 2000 and 2001, immediately attaining celebrity
status amongst the locals for their 'committment to the cause'.
Held under the auspices of the
President of the Republic of Croatia, the Maraton Ladja originated out
of a need to preserve the age old customs and traditions of this unique
Neretvanian river boat that otherwise would have become extinct or
largely forgotten about. In essence, the gondola is to Venice what the
ladja is to the Neretva region.
Judging by the many spectators that
watch the race live, the Maraton Ladja is one of the biggest events in
Croatia, as well as a huge tourist attraction. On Sunday, more than
50,000 spectators are expected to line the banks of the Neretva River
along its 22 kilometre course to watch the drama unfold.