33:27 Matthew Kosgei ran almost 12 km. From Devín to downtown Bratislava.
And with him 7,000 runners, some dressed in the Slovak national costume, some with a fire-extinguishers.
The oldest Slovak athletic event, National Run Devín – Bratislava, starts each year on the second Sunday in
Organized for the first time in 1921, for 37 runners. If the racing hadn´t been interrupted, it would have
celebrated centenary in 2021.
There is no older organized athletic race in the world, save the Boston Marathon.
And this race starts under the oldest Slovak castle, the Devín Castle.
The place where the Alps extends an arm to the Carpathians, already colonized in the Neolithic Age, where
mysterious Celtic tribes settled and built their oppidum, near rivers full of fish, under the forests full of animals.
The place, a former suburb of the legendary Roman camp and settlement of Carnuntum, became a part of the
Roman fortification system, Limes Romanus.
According to a Frankish king, a place named Dowina, where the Great Moravian Duke Rastislav ruled fearlessly.
And also the place which Napoleon from fear fired in the air.
Through the gate, passing the Great Moravian church, you will reach the courtyard with a 55m deep well, dug
by the prominent aristocratic family from Croatia, the Lords of Gara. And if you peek in and pour water into it
with a metal cup, maybe an echo of falling drops brings a dragon´s bellow to you, which according to a legend
was killed by the brave Knight Slavoboj.
You will continue to the castle walls to observe the confluence of the quiet and slow Morava, and the swift and
wild Danube. You will see the slim Virgin Tower, from which probably the young bride, Margaret jumped into
the Danube out of sorrow, after her fiancé Knight Mikuláš was killed.
And if you put your hiking boots on, you could wander through the sun lit forest, where a sea of flowering bear
garlic beyond counting will carpet your way, until you reach Devínska Kobyla mountain, with the height of
525m, the highest peak of Bratislava. Then, Sandberg will await you on your way, one of the most important
paleontological localities in Slovakia, 14 to 16 million years ago a Tertiary Sea with horizontally deposited
layers, similar to the Grand Canyon or Steven Spielberg´s Lost World.
Under it, you will sit astride your mountain bike to explore the alluvial forests surrounding the Iron Curtain
Cycling Trail, the longest EuroVelo route, which retraces the “Iron Curtain”. For almost half a century it forcibly
divided East from West, stretching from the Barents to the Black Sea with the length of more than 9,950 km.
Along the calm Morava, the trail twists through never-ending green meadows, where crickets give a concert
and flowers bloom.
Where snakes will cross your way sluggishly and fogs will jump in front of you briskly. Where from the stork´s
nests nestlings peep down curiously, where fish leap from the water and around the yellow waterlillies, swans
You will pass bunkers, the sophisticated defence system from the period of the first Czechoslovakia, and above
you, woodpeckers will decode the Morse alphabet.
Through Dolný a Horný les forests, the jungles in miniature, full of twisted trees entangled with lush ferns, you
will search in vain for a glimpse of Tarzan as he adored Jane from afar. You will continue between the long
grasses of a dreary moor and think yourself transported to the bayou of Louisiana. You will reach a place where
three countries meet, all which used to be part of one empire for almost a thousand years.
And there you will board canoes and grasp paddles to boat the Morava. The lazy stream will carry you, and you
will admire the sunset above the fishing-nets and majestic Schloss Hof Castle, where empress Maria Theresa
spent summers riding horses.
Until you will return under the Devín Castle.
And while tasting the local currant wine, you will think of these 20-year-old romantic hipsters, followers of
Ľudovít Štúr, the leader of the Slovak national revival in the 19th century, who on this place promised their
faith to Slovakia.
If we had to choose and recommend only one place in Bratislava, it would be Devín Castle.
It has everything!
It has the power of Great Moravia, it has the persistency of runners.
It has the harmony of peaceful waters. And the wisdom of nature.
Here adventure, bravery, and freedom meet.