History of the marathon

Marathon Franja was premierely organized on 22nd July, 1982 by our cycling club Rog (Rog at that time was a well established bicycle manufacturing company). Organizers back then decided to name it after World War II hidden hospital (now protected as a war monument) which the marathon passes on its way, thus paying tribute to the bravery of medical personnel, taking care of wounded Partisans and allied armed forces.

700 cyclists took part in the first edition of the race and most of them on non-racing bicycles. At that time, not even an entire route was paved- there was a 7 km long non-paved part (from the top of Kladje to Sovodenj) that caused a lot of punctures.

At the start of the third edition of then already established marathon, participants were greeted by legendary doctor Franja Bajc Bidovec, MD,after whom the hospital was named. She greeted and encouraged participants on occasion by famous words: I know it won't be easy for you, believe me, it wasn't easy for us either....

Letter of general Dwight D. Eisenhower, thanking Franja hospital for their help during WWII.

A diverse crowd of people took part in Franja: from tourist amateur cyclists to professionals like Primoz Cerin, Jure Pavlic, Valter Bonca, Robert Pintaric, Gorazd Penko and alike. At certain years, Marathon Franja was a part of a prestigious championship for the Golden Rog bicycleaward, so many professional riders took part in the race for points. Many other well known Yugoslav sportsmen and women took part in Marathon Franja through the years. In the eighties, foreigners began taking part in Franja. Such was a group of cyclists from the Netherlands who joined the race on their way to the Adriatic coast.

A record number of participants was first achieved in 2002, when more than 1.900 cyclists took part. Since then, the number of participants constantly grows. In recent couple of years the format of the marathon has been changed. A short version of Marathon (nicknamed Little Franja) was added (155km for original version and 97km for short version). And to include children and families, a special short cycling tour was introduced in 2005: Family and school marathon for everyone (28km) which takes place on the eve of Marathon Franja and is completely closed for traffic, making it safe for youngsters to take part.

Start and finish area were moved to another location in the city in 2005, allowing for more space for entertainment programs. The entire cycling weekend is named Bike festival in which Marathon Franja is a centerpiece.

Tone Fornezzi - To f is riding the bicycle on the route of the future marathon but has to turn around in Cerkno, because the road to Kladje is being renovated.

The Rog bicycle team under the leadership of Zvone Zanoškar drives the route of the marathon. . While resting in Cerkno, Zvone, Tof and thee other cyclists take notice of a commemorative sign for Bolnišnica Franja (Franja WWII hospital). Marathon gets its name.

 Zvone Zanoškar and Tone Fornezzi – Tof, organized the first Marathon Franja. 700 bicyclists took part and most of them on non-racing bicycles. . In the early years, there was a 7 km long, non-paved section on the route (on the descent from the top of Kladje to Sovodenj) that caused many punctures. Especially with the help of marathon Franja organizers and the protests of local inhabitants, asphalt was later laid. The winner of the first marathon Franja was Ivan RAJGELJ.


 Partakers on the start in Tacen were greeted by the legendary doctor Franja Bajc Bidovec, who at this occasion says the famous words: "I know it won’t be easy for you, believe me, it wasn't for us…" A large number of cyclists took part in Franja: from tourist amateur cyclists to professionals like Primoz Cerin, Jure Pavlic, Valter Bonca, Robert Pintaric, Gorazd Penko and others. They were fighting for the points of the prestigeous Rog Golden bicycle trophy. In the eighties a lot of foreigners took part in Franja. Factory Rog presented a bicycle model, called Maraton, which was suitable for races like Franja. Even skier Bojan Krizaj has ridden Franja. He was one of the biggest stars of the Yugoslav sport at that time.

 The start and finish of the Marathon Franja was moved from its original site at the Tacen Police Academy, to the new, larger location in the city center- BTC City. It also becomes a part of all- weekend long cycling festivities, called Bike festival. With this we have set a new milestone in marathon Franja history.

Marathon Franja BTC City 2017 - 9.-11. June 2017

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