Below is Pedros race report from Prague half on Saturday 7 April 2018
“Redway Runners!!!”, I hear myself shouting as I get to the start area of the Prague Half Marathon on a very sunny Saturday morning. There, in front of me are Christina and Dom. 2 other club runners whom I had not met before. Small world, big smiles.
Let me rewind to a couple of days earlier. I got to Prague on Wednesday with my family, taking the opportunity to visit friends we made during our 2 years living in this beautiful city.
Wednesday and Thursday were spent catching up with friends and with the city. Prague is one of those cities you never get bored to visit given its beauty. It is also fairly cheap to get to (WizzAir flies from Luton), to move around (the tram, bus and metro system is amazing and you get a 60 minute ticket for 24 CZK for an adult – half for a child over 6 – which is valid across different types) and to eat and drink (you can get a meal for under 150 CZK and a pint of beet for under 40 CZK).
Friday morning I went to the expo, which rivals most major marathons. Lots of brands represented, workshops, lectures, giveaways, etc… My hint, get there at 10am and you have the place for yourself. Easy to walk around, have a look around and get your number comfortably. English is not spoken by everyone but most people will have a try.
Saturday morning, I got the tram and the metro to get to the start area. It is free for runners on race day and from most points of Prague it will not take you more than 20 minutes. The day was sunny, beautiful and not too hot. Although I got to the start area before 9am, for a 10am start, the area was already fairly busy. it is well laid out, signaled and furnished with portaloos. The queues for these are not very long given the number of available loos.
In the so called Technical Area, you can find plenty of changing tents, a great bag deposit area which is setup by the last 2 digits of the runners number – meaning there is a large area but it is easy to get your bag back – massages, showers, taping and medal engraving at the end.
Once you go to your start area, the wait begins. A nice area with enough space fora gentle warm up. The only negative side was most of my area being in the shade which made it quite cold. Shortly before 10am we started having all the announcements about the elite runners, advice, etc… All of this in multiple languages as there were 80+ nationalities represented.
10am and the race starts. It is a fast downhill start, albeit with cobble stones and tram lines requiring you to look where you are stepping. The first few miles have a good attendance on the side of the road although the noise level is quite low. The course is mainly along the Vltava river, taking in the famous Charles Bridge, the Dancing House, the National Theatre, crossing over a few bridges and even passing a famous brewery around mile 3. Along the way, there are plenty of refreshment stations (at least 6) with water, Gatorade, fruit and sponges. There are also portaloos at every refreshment station (I did need a quick stop at one so I can tell you they were there – clean and quick).
Around half way and with the sun getting hotter, we pass the starting area (the course is a sort of figure of eight) and a lot of public clapping and cheering in this area. I also see my family who give me big smiles and high-fives to keep going.
The second half of the race takes you to areas with much less public, when you most needed it. The course is still flat though and you can surely aim for a PB here.
My race revolved more around pacing myself properly and keeping my energy up than getting a PB and it went to plan. The gels before the start and at miles 4.5 and 9 as well as the water at most stations helped me keep going, with the use of wet sponges nearer the end as the sun was making it quite warm.
You finish on a red carpet and are treated very well afterwards. A beautiful medal, water, fruit, the works. You have to walk a fairly long way though to get back to the baggage area and then to exit the Technical area. On a sunny day like Saturday it is ok. Not so much if the weather is miserable (as the first time I ran this Half, 5 years ago).
I did not manage to see Christina and Dom along the course but checked that they finished and also found out that Abi also ran it. Well done to everyone!
I finished the race in 1:36:36, which was almost a minute faster than what I was aiming for and felt that I had enough energy on my legs to keep going. So much so that, having flown back on Saturday evening, I even managed to join the club’s Sunday Social Run.
In my opinion, Prague is a must-do Half. The entry is not too expensive (50 EUR early bird) and getting to Prague and staying in Prague is not dear. The city is beautiful and the course is flat and definitely has PB potential. Maybe a club trip in 2019?