Mrakovica is located on the Kozara Mountain, in the heart of Kozara National Park. With elevation of 806 m, it presents an aerial spa and offers great possibilities for Summer and Winter sports alike. It is also a place of great significance in WW2 and hosts a large memorial complex.
Hello and welcome to B-HARD Ultra Race & Brevet!
Race manual version 11/June/2021
This manual is not final yet and will be updated as required but it contains all the most important information about your complete stay here.
Live public GPS tracking will be available on http://livetrack.bhardultrarace.com
Join our Strava Club as well! 🙂
First of all, all foreigners except residents of Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro are required to have a max 48h old negative proper PCR test (in paper, verified and in English) when they arrive at the border. There are no other requirements for entry. You are not obliged to wear a mask in open areas. Shops, restaurants and smaller hotels are generally open until 10 or 11 PM. Bigger hotels and most of the bigger petrol stations are open 24/7.
Secondly, you may want to turn off mobile data on your phone because the roaming charges will be way too high. We will provide you with a local SIM card with a data plan upon your arrival.
And finally, if you need any help with local transportation in order to reach Banja Luka – do let us know and we’ll do our best to help you out.
Accommodation in Banja Luka
We have teamed up with Hostel Herz to provide you with different options of affordable accommodation in the city center, just a few hundred meters away from the location of race briefing and start.
Apart from 10% discount for mentioning B-HARD, you will get free secure car parking, safekeeping of your luggage while you’re away riding, free coffee in Caffe Hertz, free sauna and laundry.
You can get in touch and make your reservation on firstname.lastname@example.org or +38766617627
If you wish more comfort and/or want to be located literally at the start line, we can offer accommodation in another hotel.
Riders assembly and start location
The main location you should be aware of, where all the rides will start at, is Park Petar Kocic in the city center.
9th of June: 80-ish km promotional ride in Banja Luka county. Start time 11 AM.
10th of June: 90-ish km promotional ride in Banja Luka county. Start time 11 AM.
11th of June: Assembly of the riders, short cycling ride around town and event briefing. As is stands, the assembly is at 5 PM.
12th of June: The start of the ride at 5 AM. Detailed starting schedule is to be posted during the briefing but basically we’ll ride together to the exit from the city, where we’ll have a short stop to differentiate the categories. B-TOUR riders will continue the ride straight away, with the racers starting individually at 20 sec interval a minute behind, then 1200 brevet riders a minute after the last racer, followed by B-200 riders a minute the B-1200 riders.
15th of June: The deadline for successfully completing the course is at 11 PM.
16th of June: Finishers ceremony and debriefing at 11 AM at Restaurant A&D.
Riding in Bosnia & Herzegovina
If you happen to come from countries with severely developed cycling infrastructure, you may find it a bit intimidating (at first anyway) that cyclists here ride on main roads along with all other forms of traffic. Furthermore, most of the roads don’t contain hard shoulders (e.g. additional space on a side of the road) but in fact the law allows you to use a meter wide strip of the road, with cars supposed to slow down and pass you with 1.5 meters to spare. Usually this is the case but sometimes you may encounter inexperienced or simply rude driver speeding past you, passing you too close or doing overtaking coming towards you, which is why you need to have some space on the right hand side to move over in these situations. If you simply ride on the very edge on the road, then you expect this to happen to you all the time.
Since it is very important to always be aware of what’s going on ahead and behind you and keeping your stance on the road i.e. “ride defensively” as I like to say, it is prohibited to use headphones and also to take your helmet off or both hands off the handlebar at the same time.
Some drivers might honk their horn in order to warn you they are approaching and others might honk as they are annoyed with having you on the road to begin with but simply ignore them. There are many riders that might honk or wave at you to say hello and support you, so it all balances out, so to speak.
Most of the roads we’ll be using are quiet enough for you to enjoy the ride (especially on Saturday and Sunday). The busiest sections will be city centers (Mostar and Sarajevo) as well as a portion of the road around Vitez towards the end of the route. This also means that some of the roads are narrow or not maintained well, therefore it’s possible to come across random potholes, sand or rocks on the road surface, therefore please be very careful, especially on the descends.
Stray dogs are not an issue is Bosnia & Herzegovina. You may encounter a domestic or a shepherd dog that might chase you and bark at you defending their territory but this was also a random and seldom occurrence during past editions of B-HARD. The main strategies include shouting at the dog, speeding up for a few seconds, spraying the dog with water or – if the situation dictates – dismounting from the bike and walking past the dog.
One of the biggest wealths of Bosnia & Herzegovina is drinking water. Tap water is safe to drink and also wherever you see a water fountain or simply a pipe coming out of a wall with water running out, on a side of the road – it’s safe to drink it except if there’s a very rare sign stating otherwise.
The only officially accepted currency is Bosnian Mark (BAM) – KM in local language, which is fixed to Euro at 1.9558 KM for 1 EUR. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in all main areas but for smaller towns or roadside shops it might prove better to have cash in hand.
Phone number for police is 122, fire fighters 123 and emergency services 124.
Riding three or four consecutive days in (presumably) bright sun might take its toll on your skin, so bring some sun block with you, stay hydrated and regularly eat.
In addition to short cycling outfit, I would recommend adding another set, plus arm warmers, leg warmers, windproof vest, thermal jacket and long-finger gloves – and you’re set for all weather conditions. On top of that, you’ll need hi-vis vest for night riding and a good set of lights.
Do not litter, be polite, take lots of photos and videos and enjoy the ride!
Different race categories
B-RACE is a single-stage non-stop self-supported cycling ultramarathon (or shorter: ultra race), which follows a fixed 1200 km asphalt route on roads not closed for traffic (which assumes following all road traffic rules and regulations, including the use of helmet) with obligatory time controls at designated checkpoints. The type of riding is basically individual time-trial (no drafting allowed, except in pairs category) and no 3rd-party outside assistance is permitted, other than that provided by the organiser and commercially available services. Deviation from the route is allowed for purposes of sightseeing, accommodation and similar but the ride needs to resume from the point where the rider had left the route.
B-PAIR is essentially the same thing as B-RACE but it’s done in pairs. A pair or riders needs to start, ride and finish together. All other B-RACE rules apply here as well.
B-1200 is an LRM1200 brevet – an official LRM sanctioned event and it follows the same 1210 km route as the race. The type of riding complies with all LRM regulations (drafting is allowed) and no 3rd-party outside assistance is permitted, other than that provided by the organiser and commercially available services. Deviation from the route is allowed for purposes of sightseeing, accommodation and similar but the ride needs to resume from the point where the rider had left the route.
B-200 is a BRM200 brevet – an official single-day BRM sanctioned event which again allows drafting and goes along the rules of the previous two categories as well.
B-TOUR is a special fully-supported ride package for individuals and small groups and is designed for road cycling enthusiasts who are not really into full-on ultracycling but still want to have an amazing cycling experience and explore our country. Riders of B-TOUR will ride about 640 kms of the route in 4 stages, being shuttled between certain checkpoints. It is not allowed to mix and draft with these riders.
In order to complete the course successfully, both B-RACE and B-1200 riders have 90 hours at their disposal and are required to stop at all the designated checkpoints and have their card stamped and time of arrival entered. In case the checkpoint is closed or there’s some other obstacles that arises, a selfie photo made on the spot will suffice.
The actual ride in all race and brevet categories is of unsupported type, which means you are not allowed to have 3rd party assistance, other than exclusively in the brevet category between the riders themselves (and obviously in the pairs category but only between the two riders). However, we will have a couple of B-TOUR support cars on the route, should there be an emergency help required.
The route is 1210 km in length with 14000 meters of elevation gain, unless there happen to be some last moment changes. The roads are a mixture of main, regional and local roads, 99% surfaced with asphalt (of varying condition but just fine for 25+ mm tyres) and most are not too busy traffic-wise, except the urban Sarajevo bypass and the portion from Bjelašnica to Jajce (section of the route from CP9 to CP10 to CP11). Also, the road from Trebinje to Tjentište (CP5 to CP6) is a bit narrow, so caution is required.
Apart for some short and irrelevant tunnels throughout the rute, there’s a 2100 m long modern tunnel with lighting and sidewalks between CP5 and CP6 and a series of 39 successive tunnels (some short, some long and lit, one long and dark) just prior to CP7. It will be obligatory to go into “full night mode” for the tunnels, regardless of the time of day you happen to reach them. Also, it’s advisable to use common sense and keep track of what’s going on behind you prior to entering any of the tunnels.
Also, normally there’s a multitude of petrol stations and cafes along the route, but a 100 km portion of the route between CP4 and CP5, specifically between Čapljina and Trebinje, follows Ćiro Bike Trail – an old railway converted to a road and cycling route, with no restocking options and quite intimidating if riding alone at night, except there’s a very nice hotel/restaurant in Ravno, as an oasis at about a halfway point of the aforementioned section. This stretch of road is also quite curvy, narrow and bumpy.
Final version of the route on RWGPS (best to sync to a GPS device directly from here): https://ridewithgps.com/routes/36315498
Integral FIT, TCX and GPX files for manual upload: https://www.dropbox.com/s/j9pubzh3bf7x88b/B-HARD_2021_1210_km_FINAL.zip?dl=0
Segmented version of the route (CP to CP):
Zip file containing all individual FIT, TCX and GPX files: https://www.dropbox.com/s/gf20zu9muy5j4h5/B-HARD_2021_segmented.zip?dl=0
Although pre-determined by locations of natural beauties and touristic centers, checkpoints are actually pretty evenly and logically dispersed on the route and will serve as great locations for resupply, so if you’re in a general hurry, you basically won’t really need to stop anywhere in between the CPs.
There’s a full course lunch awaiting you at CP3 during the first day and a full course lunch at CP6 – which also marks the halfway point of the route. Also, most of the checkpoints offer accommodation options.
For those riders not racing against the clock, we have designed the route to be a 4-day ride, with convenient night rests at CP4, CP7 and CP9. Riding this way will see you do 357, 343, 234 and 276 km daily and will get you do most of the sightseeing exactly as designed.
The first two days are slightly longish and require a very early start but it’s very welcome to have some time sufficite as the section between CP7 and CP9 is the “all hell breaks loose” part of the route, with four mountain passes including the highest peak of the whole route but basically everyone should be able to reach CP9 at the end of the third day and have a good night’s rest there before starting a relatively easy fourth day, finishing in the afternoon or evening. Even if you’re running a bit late and don’t manage to reach CP9 on the 3rd day, you should still be able to reach the finish line by 11 PM the next day.
As for the quicker riders, their riding plan might look quite different. They might ride throughout the first night and throughout the second day and probably reach CP8 at the 2nd night. After a short sleep, they will finish the race during the 3rd day.
You can check and analyse last year’s quickest ride here: https://www.strava.com/activities/3994314924
CP1 57 km – KOZARA
CP1 perhaps comes in only at 57th kilometer of the route but it is situated on top of a 800 m high mountain, requiring you to do a 12 km climb @ 5% average gradient. After refreshments in the heart of the National Park, at the base of a WW2 monument, you are greeted with a descent along the same road and shortly after that the roller-coaster ride begins.
Volunteers at the base of the monument – Googlemaps location
There’s a water fountain at the beginning of the climb and also drinking water and toilets at the checkpoint. Be careful going downhill, especially as other riders might still be going uphill.
CP2 162 km – BALKANA
Once you descend from Mrakovica, you will be greeted with quiet roads on a rolling terrain, which will gradually take you all the way up to 850 m/alt. From that point, the altitude will drop a little bit and the beautiful lakes will be right around a corner. A perfect spot to prepare for what’s to come!
After an obligatory loop around the lakes, you will find refreshment (most probably a sandwich) a hundred meters down the main road at Restaurant Balkanika, where our volunteers will stamp your brevet card – Googlemaps location
CP3 233 km – KUPRES
Kupres is a town in Dinaric Alps at 1180 m above sea-level, surrounded by mountain peaks, which makes it a famous ski resort but it also boasts active tourism like motocross, paragliding, horse-riding, mountain biking and off-road driving. It is also known for a large natural lake and medieval tombstones.
After leaving Balkana, you will gradually descend towards Pliva River, which you will then follow upstream. It will give you a chance to relax and get back into rhythm. Once you reach the stunning Janjske Otoke Pliva River delta (requires a small detour if you wish to visit this place), you will start gaining altitude (e.g. climb for most of the next 18 km!), to finally reach a 1200 m high plateau of Kupres where you will be greeted with complimentary full lunch.
Hotel Maestral, hard to miss – Googlemaps location
CP4 357 km – MOSTAR
Mostar is a city of flowers and greenery. Its charm rests in its streets interwoven with the spirit of many different civilizations which have dwelled here. Situated only 60 km away from the seaside, Mostar has a pleasant Mediterranean climate. In the city itself and in its vicinity there are many unique locations with historical and cultural treasures, the most prominent being the Old Bridge, which joins the left and the right bank of the Herzegovinian pearl – the river Neretva.
Even though you’re still required to ride over 120 kms in order to reach CP4 after CP3, the road will take you from 1180 m/alt all the way down to just 50 m/alt, so it will be a relatively easy end to a day, especially as you’ll be greeted with a sight of a UNESCO World Heritage site, that the elegant Mostar’s Old Bridge is! CP4 will also mark a location where it will be possible to spend a short night and get some rest after a long day in the saddle.
Villa Zigana – Googlemaps location
The checkpoint and accommodation will be in Villa Zigana, where we have an arrangement for beds at 30 KM per person – or 40 KM if you wish to have more privacy. You will also receive a nice takeaway meal pack, so you’re all set for the morning – or for a continuation of the ride, if you’re not going to spend a night there. However, if you decide to use any facilities, please note it will be subject to a charge.
Intermediate CP 442 km – RAVNO
On the aforementioned Ćiro Bike Trail, there’s a former train station in Ravno, now-days a unique Hotel named Stanica (Station) Ravno, which will once again serve as a stop for keen travellers on this route, like it used to do 150 years ago. This is an intermediate checkpoint meaning you won’t get your car stamped here but the hotel will provide refreshment (most probably ice cream) for all the riders at this enjoyable location. The hotel’s restaurant is also a convenient place for you to get meal and other forms of resupply (including accommodation, if required) as there will be absolutely nothing available for the next 60-65 kms or so.
Hotel Stanica – Googlemaps location
CP5 496 km – TREBINJE
Trebinje is located in the southernmost part of Republic of Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It features mediterranean climate with 260 sunny days, old town quarter and bridges from 18th century, great number of religious objects from various time periods and The City of Sun aqua park.
Going out of Mostar, you’ll generally be riding on an old Vienna to Dubrovnik railroad route, now-days a notable paved cycling route popularly named after the Ćiro train. The first 50 kilometers of the route are pretty flat, after which you’ll be greeted by a 10 km climb with spectacular views over Hutovo blato Nature Reserve. The town of Ravno, previously one of the main train stations, now presents an oasis for cyclists on the Ćiro route (as noted above). After some more flat road riding, you will reach CP5 in the heart of Trebinje.
During wokring hours (9-15h) – Trebinje Tourist Info Office – Googlemaps location
In case of arrival outside this period – Hotel Central Park just 30-40 meters further down the pedestrian path – Googlemaps location
You will get your card stamped and get refreshments at one of the two locations listed above.
CP6 602 km – SUTJESKA
National Park Sutjeska is the oldest and largest national park in Bosnia & Herzegovina, which is by its natural values and beauties the pearl of B&H and features one of the last remaining primeval forests in Europe. Tjentište in the Valley of Heroes is a home to the WW2 Battle of Sutjeska memorial complex.
Straight out of Trebinje, you’ll be greeted with a 6 km climb @ 5 % and then, after some rolling terrain along side a large artificial lake, you gradually continue climbing for the next 50 km as well! A short downhill section to catch your breath will be handy because the beauty of the National Park will take it away again. You’ll be able to enjoy it over a full lunch though, so you’ll be glad to reach CP6 in more ways than one, especially as it marks the half-way of the whole route and your personal battle!
Restaurant Komlen – Googlemaps location
The actual checkpoint where you’ll get the card stamped is on the left hand side of the restaurant. When you get the card stamped, you can proceed to the restaurant where you’ll be greeted with a complimentary full meal (be it breakfast, lunch or a dinner – depending on your time of arrival :)) and also refreshments for the rest of the trip. In case you need accommodation at this point, you will be able to get it at a nearby Hotel Mladost.
CP7 700 km – VIŠEGRAD
Višegrad is located at the confluence of the Drina and Rzav rivers in Eastern RS and B&H. The town includes the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was popularized by Ivo Andrić in his novel The Bridge on the Drina. A tourist site called Andrićgrad is located near the bridge.
Save for a 5.5 km climb @ 4.5%, followed by a similar descent, leading out of the Sutjeska National Park, this portion of the route follows a lush green Drina River downstream, so it is mostly flat and scenic. Also, the very last portion of the route takes you through a canyon and passes through 39 tunnels, before a UNESCO World Heritage site suddenly appears before you!
Hotel Andrićgrad – Googlemaps location
You will get your card stamped at the reception of the hotel (enter the building/walls and it is on the left hand side) and you should also get a sandwich for the rest of the trip or for your nightly stay. Speaking of accommodation, you will have an option of very affordable beds and rooms. The price is just 20-25 KM per person.
CP8 846 km – JAHORINA
Jahorina is a mountain and ski resort located near the municipality of Pale, Sarajevo. Part of the Dinaric Alps, it has a summit elevation of 1916 meters and presents the highest point of B-HARD Ultra Race route. Jahorina hosted the Women’s alpine skiing events of the 1984 Winter Olympics and 2019 EYOF.
Road to CP8 will definitely separate men from the boys. Straight out of Višegrad you need to tackle a 17 km climb with 50 bends and over 1000 m of elevation gain, then, a bit later on, a 21 km drag up to 1170 m/alt awaits you, followed by a hairpin-riddled downhill section. Only then will you be presented with a 16 km climb up to Cima Coppi of the route @ 1670 m, with a very steep last km. You will be very glad to have reached CP8 and enjoy a nice refreshment at Guesthouse Rajska Vrata (The Gate of Heaven).
Make sure to actually reach the end of asphalt, with a huge Strava-logo-looking sculptures overlooking the valley that you’ve just come from, prior to descending a couple of hundred meters to the restaurant, where staff will stamp your brevet card and provide you with a slice of domestic cake and also some other refreshments for the remainder of your trip. You also may want to get a proper meal at this location and/or a sandwich to go. Just beware, the restaurant is open until 6 (or maybe 7) PM. In case you visit the location after this time, please proceed another hundred meters down the road to find Hotel Lavina.
If you require accommodation at this checkpoint, you’ll be able to find it at Hotel Lavina for 73 KM per single room.
CP9 934 km – BJELAŠNICA
Bjelašnica is the highest of the 1984 Winter Olympics Mountains, with a peak at 2067 m above sea level. The trails at “Babin Do” are one of the top European ski trails. This ski resort has eight ski trails and five children’s trails, 3 chairlifts and 5 ski lifts, that lead to the top point of Bjelašnica mountain. The highest village in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Lukomir, is also located nearby.
The drop from Jahorina will take you via Pale to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia & Herzegovina, in 30 kms. Riding through the city center and out of the city, the next 20 kms will be flat, with another 20 kms going gradually uphill, following Željeznica River upstream. This will set you up for the mountainous 30 km uphill section that will eventually take you to CP9, at 1300 m/alt, on Bjelašnica plateau – a perfect location for a proper night’s rest.
Hotel Han – Googlemaps location
The staff at the hotel will stamp your card. Due to a wide time span of riders arriving the the checkpoint, this location might not provide you with complimentary refreshments. As this is a particularly convenient location to spend a night at, we have teamed up with the hotel to provide you with options of accommodation – 64 KM for a single person, 88 KM for two persons in a double room and 132 KM for three persons in a triple room. Optional breakfast costs 15 KM.
ATTENTION: Beware of tram rails in Sarajevo – when you first enter the city, stick to the left-most lane (it’s a single way street). Afterwards, when you reach a wide boulevard, please use a dedicated cycling path.
Intermediate CP 1017 km – VITEZ
When you combine a fact that there’s already more than 1000 km behind you and a 14 km twisty climb ahead of you, what a better spot to take a short break at than the Giant bike shop & service in Vitez, that will lube your chain, boost your morale and provide refreshments – perfect!
Spartan Sport – Googlemaps location
CP10 1045 km – VLAŠIĆ
Vlašić is a mountain in geographical center of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is famous for its pastures, cattle-breeding and cheese. It is closest to the town of Travnik, which it overlooks. The mountain is a major center for winter tourism and it is also a popular destination for summer and eco tourism with many hiking trails and undisturbed wilderness areas. A viewpoint from Galica pass provides a spectacular view towards the valley.
Although the first 100 kms, beginning with a descent from Bjelašnica, via neighbouring Igman Mountain, present a sort-of transitional stage all the way to the city of Travnik, you will get hit by a grueling and twisty 14 km climb up to 1500 m/alt (avg of 6.7% with some steep ramps), as the final test on the route. CP10 is on the very top of the climb and will present a rather pleasant and convenient location for refreshments and short recovery.
Mountain hut – Googlemaps location
The staff will stamp your card and provide refreshments. It’s also possible to get accommodation on there, should you find it required. Just across the checkpoint, you can walk or ride for 100 meters over the grass to be greeted with a marvellous view, overlooking the valley and the road that you’ve just come up from.
Be careful on the way down the other side of the mountain, as the road surface is quite bumpy and there can be sand and rocks on the road. Also, there are some roadworks on the portion of the descend, roughly between km 1060 and 1070, so you can except a couple of hundred meters of gravel.
CP11 1134 km – JAJCE
Jajce is a wonderful town in central Bosnia, rich of culture, history and natural beauty. The town is famous for its beautiful 22-metre high Pliva River waterfall, medieval fortified city, nearby lakes, traditional watermills, fish farming, sports & recreation.
Maybe you think you’ve seen it all by now, but we’ve saved the best for the last! After a lengthy descent off Vlašić mountain, you will tackle a 920 m high Komar pass to reach the city of Donji Vakuf. From there on, you will follow the Vrbas River all the way to CP11 in Jajce, where Pliva River, that you gazed on the first day, joins Vrbas in form of a stunning waterfall! Refreshments and a view over the Pliva River waterfall will fill you up with energy for the ultimate section of the route.
The staff at the Tourist Info Center will stamp your card and provide refreshments. If you arrived there and it’s closed, please continue following the route for 200 m and you will reach the checkpoint at Hotel Turist (on the right hand side of the roundabout). After that, you’ll be doing a loop around the nearby Pliva lakes, including crossing a lake on a wooden walkway. Beware of the risk of tyres falling into the cracks between the wood and perhaps dismount and walk this section. After that, the route will take you back to Jajce and you will continue following Vrbas river downstream.
FINISH 1210 km – BANJA LUKA
All the way from Jajce to Banja Luka, Vrbas River will be your companion, mostly through several stunning canyons, except a small bump at halfway (2.5 km @ 4.7%), providing a magnificent view over a snake-like hydro-accumulation (make sure to do a short stop at the gravel viewpoint at the beginning of the descent). The final 40 kms will be an easy roll into Banja Luka, so you will have plenty of time to decide how you’re going to celebrate at the finish line… with a small surprise at 5 km to go – crossing a suspension bridge over Vrbas river, overlooking a cascade.
The location of the finish is the starting location, where you’ll take a selfie photo and proceed to you accommodation for a well deserved rest :).
Congratulations! You have returned to the starting point after a journey through lush nature, turbulent history and diverse culture. We hope you have enjoyed the trip!
Pre-final start list
|R02||Ben Davies||United Kingdom|
|R03||Nathalie Baillon (F)||France|
|R05||Tom van Leeuwen||The Netherlands|
|R06||Sam Thomas||The Netherlands|
|R09||Michal Hampl||Czech Republic|
|R12||Yurii Orlov||The Netherlands|
|P01a||Corentin Prié – PAIR||France|
|P01b||Quentin Marquet – PAIR||France|
|B01||Gordan Vasilić||Bosnia & Herzegovina|
|B03||Boris Popović||Bosnia & Herzegovina|
|B06||Minja Đorojević||Bosnia & Herzegovina|
|T02c||Miodrag Garača||Bosnia & Herzegovina|