FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Run Czech Sets the Republic on the Move: Emil Zátopek Would Have Been Proud
Sunday's Volkswagen Prague Marathon saw a record number of 9,500 runners
and a high-class elite field. However, due to warm weather, the winning
times were slower than expected with Nicholas Kemboi (Qatar) running
2:08:51 and Caroline Rotich (Kenya) clocking 2:27:00. But overall Czech's
premier running event, which was staged little more than one month after
the Hervis Prague Half Marathon, was another success. And with the Mattoni
Prague Grand Prix – a 10 k race on 7th September – there is a third major
road running event coming up in the Czech capital. But Prague is by no
means the end of the road for the organisers.
Just two weeks after the Volkswagen Prague Marathon the busy team led by
chairman Carlo Capalbo stage their next event, a half marathon in Karlovy
Vary. In total there are now seven races organised across the Czech
Republic by Capalbo's team. Five of them already have an IAAF gold or
silver label. The 'Run Czech Running League', as the series is officially
called, has become a notable success with events usually sold-out weeks
before the start. And this year a record total of 48,000 runners are
expected to take part in these races.
It all started back in 1994, when Italians Carlo Capalbo and Olympic
Marathon Champion Gelindo Bordin were having a beer in a Prague Restaurant.
After the idea of staging a marathon in the Czech capital came up, they
called Emil Zátopek. The all-time great later became a race patron together
with Gelindo Bordin. When the first marathon was staged on 4th June 1994
there were 985 runners but adding other events the total was around 15,000.
"I would never have expected us creating something as big and as successful
as we have today," said Carlo Capalbo, who admits that "at the beginning we
were not so professional. But in 18 years we have built high standards. And
I was always thinking big." Major marathon races in New York, London and
Berlin were inspirational for developing the Prague Marathon and later the
Run Czech series. Carlo Capalbo often travelled to the London or Berlin
Marathons where Race Directors Dave Bedford and Horst Milde set
international standards. "I always watched my friends and still today I try
to learn from other events. There were a lot of good ideas and I
implemented some of them into our race."
The aim for Carlo Capalbo and his team was to become a major player in the
global running community. "But for obvious reasons we knew it is impossible
to get 40,000 marathon runners in Prague. The Czech Republic only has a
population of around 10 million people. So we are a small country and our
marathon theoretically is already too big compared to the population of our
nation. But we get a lot of foreign runners," said Carlo Capalbo, who had
an amazing foreign entry of 48 percent in the Volkswagen Prague Marathon
"We wanted to create one platform so that in total we would be as big as
the races of the World Marathon Majors. We have now succeeded with this by
creating the Run Czech Running League," explained the 55 year-old chairman.
"We make sure that all events have got the same high standards in all
aspects. There are the same sponsors and the same suppliers. The organising
team is the same as well as the whole set-up, for example the construction
of the start and finish areas." The elite fields are also very strong and
all races are shown live on Czech TV.
While the 10 k race and the half marathon in the capital were established
as long ago as 1996 and 1999, the Olomouc Half Marathon became the first
race outside Prague in 2010. A year later another half marathon followed:
this time in the northern city of Usti nad Labem, while the Mattoni Ceske
Budejovice Half Marathon was added in 2012. The event in Karlovy Vary will
be staged for the first time on May 25.
"Geographically it is simple to organise various events in different
regions of the Czech Republic," said Carlo Capalbo. What made it easier to
implement major races into other cities was the fact that no other big road
running events existed in these cities. To avoid possible conflicts with
other organisers Run Czech cooperates and helps other smaller races in the
Republic. "We all benefit from this. The more people start running the
better for all of us." Run Czech has seen a strong increase of entries in
recent years. "Within five years we more than doubled our total number of
participants," explained Carlo Capalbo.
Run Czech also introduced a new competition format, where runners are
ranked according to their profession and age group. For example teachers
compete against each other on an annual basis within the Run Czech Running
League. They can collect points at each of their races. Their three best
performances are added together at the end of the season. Each age category
also has a winner. Next year participants will even be able to collect
points in eight races. Because Run Czech will introduce a new half marathon
Run Czech is an achievement which surely would have made Emil Zátopek glow
with pride at the continuing passion for running in his country.
More information about the Volkswagen Prague Marathon is available online