Zeljko Kubatka (Kubi for short) is a 44 year old Navy officer and long time recreational runner from Osijek, Croatia. Kubi began running seriously three years ago when his friend created a training program for him in light of Kubi's first race. He's very fond of running, he enjoys talking and writing about running even though he doesn't consider himself a "first class runner". Kubi enjoys running for the simple pleasures of getting out of the house shaking up the daily routine and expending negative energy. He feels running recharges his batteries. Kubi is also interested in computers and mixes the two hobbies well; he has his own webpage dedicated to running (www.inet.hr/~zkubatka).
Fortunately for Kubi, his family also supports his active lifestyle. His wife enjoys sports and sometimes joins Kubi on his runs when she's in the mood. His two children are involved in the local volleyball and rowing clubs. In the Kubatka family "sport is a way of living". His children however are not the only ones involved in the local sporting clubs. Kubi belongs to MK Hrvatski Sokol (Croatian Falcon) marathon club. So far the club is in its infantile stage but after a year it boasts twenty members.
Despite his membership Kubi normally runs alone 5-6 times a week. A run for Kubi usually is 5-10 kilometers or 20-25 on his long runs. He likes to alternate his routes from trails in the woods to asphalt courses along the river. Normally before one of his runs Kubi likes to eat a light meal and a sports drink, sometimes he'll even sneak in a power bar. He says that this is not a widespread routine, there doesn't seem to be any regular pre-run food for most Croatians. As far as weather goes nothing hinders Croatian runners except for the winter's snow (Osijek received 20-30 centimeters this past winter). Normally outside these winter conditions Kubi prefers to run in a T-shirt and shorts. He has two pairs of running shoes and enjoys running in the morning most. He especially likes the spring time warmth when the city sleeps and birds sing, "everything is smooth and quiet; no cars, no rush, just like in paradise". On his long runs Kubi stashes water bottles filled with sports drinks or water behind trees or bushes but otherwise he doesn't run with any other accessories. Sometimes he likes to listen to music when he runs like the new Bruce Springsteen cd. He keeps up to date on running news via the Croatian running magazine "Maratonac" (Marathon Runner) and online news sources like Run the Planet, Cool Running, and Runner's World.
Concerning the larger Croatian running community, Kubi reports that running has gained popularity in the past decade. CRO CUP is responsible for much of running growth in Croatia. The organization hosts about 50 races from 10K to marathon all around Croatia. It also helps that there are no religious or cultural activities that hinder running nor are there any running taboos, such as running shirtless. There are no organized races in Kubi's city but other races throughout Croatia range from 6 to 30 U.S. dollars depending on the distance. All race packets include a T-shirt, sports drink, sandwich and a sports bar for participants and monetary awards for top finishers are almost always expected. There is one exception however: there is a charity race on New Year's Day that helps combat physical disabilities.
When Kubi was asked about his running experiences in other countries he said running in other countries such as the United States was not that different from running in Croatia. He hopes to run a marathon someday and would love to run the marathon in Zagreb. He'd like to finish under four hours and he has a wonderful shot considering his sub-2 hour half marathon time. Good luck Kubi!
Run The Planet would like to thank Zeljko Kubatka from Croatia for taking part in the Planeteer Spotlight.