Running is a popular sport. It is even the most practiced individual outdoor sport in our country. It often starts with a circle around the block. Then the build-up towards a five kilometer walk. We want to go faster and, above all, further. With the king’s number, the marathon as the end goal. Amsterdam, Rotterdam or maybe Eindhoven. And after that?
Almost every European capital has a marathon these days. Nice to combine participation in a foreign spring marathon with a city trip. And how beautiful is it to walk those 42,195 kilometers through a beautiful old city? The choice for the Prague Marathon was quickly made. A beautiful route that largely leads along the banks of the Vltava. The crossing of the Charles Bridge is also in the road book. That promises to be a great city tour in the capital of the Czech Republic .
Started with goosebumps
Between almost 11,000 colorful shirts I am waiting in a pleasant morning sun in one of the side streets that leads to Staroměstské náměstí, the Old Town Square. On the front row of the grid, the African athletes look up in admiration at the imposing Týnkerk. A few minutes before the starting gun, a beautiful symphony blares across the square. On the goosebumps song ‘Vtleva’ by the Czech composer Smetana, the crowd starts to move and the threshold under the starting arch squeaks non-stop.
We walk via the stately street Pařížská towards the first bridge of the day. The trees on either side of one of the most expensive streets in Prague provide the necessary shade. Via the Čechův bridge with its imposing arches we arrive at the western side of Prague and then cross over to the other side via the famous Charles Bridge. It’s short-lived. Via the next bridge we cross the Vltava again and walk along its banks for about four kilometers. The clear blue sky and the sun are starting to claim the first victims. In walking pass they continue their way, which is still very long.
Prague marathon – from bridge to bridge
We cross the river again and walk back towards the Old Square. The square is now packed with an enthusiastic audience. Through the beautiful old town we walk again to the Vltava to defy its banks in a southerly direction. The sun takes its toll and the pace slows. At the Dancing House we cross a bridge for the fifth time. The view of the most modest skyline of Prague remains beautiful.
From kilometer 30 it really starts to work. The mercury is now above twenty degrees. The many cobbled streets also make walking less easy.
The loop of the first twelve kilometers is also the loop of the final piece. Slowly the miles tick away. Today the sun is the master of the man with the hammer, who stands before the dreaded hunger knock. Running becomes raking, then trudging and finally walking. The marathon knows no mercy. After 41 kilometers we turn back to Pařížská, where everyone immediately looks for the shade of the trees with relief. A loud roar is heard as we approach the Old Square and the finish comes into view again. A nice medal is the reward.
Runczech is the driving force
It has been a long time since Emil Zátopek made history. At the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, this runner from the then Czechoslovakia won a gold medal in both the five and ten kilometers and the marathon. A feat that has not yet been matched. In the 1990s, Emil drew the course of the Prague Marathon on a napkin. The first edition took place in 1995.
RunCzech is the driving force behind the marathon and the organizer of most running events in the Czech Republic. The corona years in which events could not be organized have given the company food for thought to give the marathon a new dimension. This has taken shape with the introduction of the ‘Battle of the teams’. Most marathon participants have no idea who actually won the race. The front and back of the field are brought together by forming teams. The professionals are the captains of the teams and all marathon participants can choose their team. The team with the fastest average finishing time wins a cash prize for a charitable project. The awards ceremony will take place during the afterparty, for which all participants in theHilton are invited. While enjoying a plate of pasta and wine, the experiences of the most beautiful marathon in Europe are exchanged. And that’s quite a few.