For the last 17 years, always on the second Saturday in August, 39 teams have been driving down to the Neretva river from Metkovic over Opuzen to Ploce, covering a 22.580 meters long route. At the traditional Boat Marathon, over 700 competitors will row their boats. Marathon lada is an amateur, sporting competition which involves the racing of lade (vessels native to the Lower Neretva River which flows through the Republic of Croatia). It is very interesting that all boats must be traditional in shape and dimensions as per the rules prescribed by the Rule Book with the defined number and dimensions of their ribs, and the hull boards have to be of the same thickness. There are 10 rowers in each boat, a drummer and a steersman. This type of boat was a traditional means of transport in Neretva region for centuries and the marathon was started in 1998 in their honour as non-professional contest of traditional boats.
This time, teams will be filled with contestants from cities and municipalities surrounding the Neretva valley, other areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina, then from Sisak, Bjelovar, Zagreb, Ilok, Vinkovci, Primorje-Gorski Kotar, and Sombor. An aisle in which the boatmen paddles a traditional vessel is the traditional boat that has been used for centuries to transport people and cargo in the area of Neretva valley.
The program of this year’s Marathon will begin with a speed race that will be held on the 6st of August in Opuzen. Speed race is the qualifying race for start positions in Boat Marathon.
This year, for the first time in history, ladies will also join the competiton. At the Boat Marathon, on the 7th of August, ten ladies´ teams will paddle from Opuzen to Metkovic. Ladies’ Marathon ends in Metkovic with the celebration called ‘Noc ladara’.
Marathon begins with its program at 3 pm (on the 9th of August) with the arrival of the Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, who is also the main sponsor of the marathon. Start of the boats is scheduled to 5 pm, and will be marked with a shot from a traditional gun.