Saturday, May 5, 2012

Running Through History

A UNYP student participates in the upcoming Volkswagen Prague Marathon

By Barbora Netolická

At 9 a.m. on Sunday, May 13, more than 8,000 runners will converge on Old Town Square for the Volkswagen Prague Marathon, a 42-kilometer run around Prague city center. Among the huge crowd will be Katarína Zubová, a third-year Communication student from UNYP, wearing number F1723.

“I think I will not make it for the whole marathon,” Zubová says. “But I want to have the experience and know that I tried.”

Zubová loves sport, yet she is a first-timer in the marathon. She was a professional swimmer for almost 10 years, and now she is also a skilled runner. Yet she has been training for her new goal – running a marathon – only for a couple months.

The record times for finishing the Volkswagen Prague Marathon are 2:05:39 
(men) and 2:22:34  (women), both achieved by Kenyan runners. For slower runners, the race will extend over 7 hours.

Zubová is hoping to finish in 5 hours, but there is skepticism in her voice. “I counted an approximate time that it would take me to finish 42 km if I run all the time.” she says. “But expecting an amateur runner to run for 5 hours nonstop is quite naïve.

“I do not want to end up in a hospital, so I set my limit: till the first vomiting.” Zubová expects that to come around the 30th kilometer.
With a half-marathon, half of
her dream will come true

Even though Zubová`s parents are not trying to stop her, they do not approve. In fact, they gave their permission and support only for a half-marathon (21km). Understandably, they are worried about their daughter’s health. “I will see how I feel in the middle, but I would love to at least try to make the whole track, no matter what other people think,” Zubová says confidently.

As for her motivations, Zubová says simply, “I felt a need for a change and a short-term goal.”

She is also looking forward to meeting professional celebrity runners. For example, she will have a chance to see Patrick Makau, 26, a Kenyan and the current holder of the world record in the marathon – 2:03:38, set in Berlin in 2011. For non-runners hoping to meet Makau, he is scheduled to be training in Stromovka Park on the Wednesday before the race. This will be his second visit to Prague; he ran the Prague Marathon in November 2011.

Zubova made a good choice of a marathon. First, the track seems very pleasant: it starts in Old Town Square, makes a circle along the river from Libeň to Podolí and finishes back in Old Town Square. Second, the Volkswagen Prague Marathon is one of two Prague International Marathons (PIM) awarded the highest mark of quality – a Gold Label from the IAAF (International Athletic Federation). That allows it to compete with big European marathons like the Roma Marathon and Berlin Marathon. PIM is one of just a few organizations worldwide that has managed to receive two Gold Labels for its races.

Third, race organizers works hard to ensure the comfort of the runners. There are refreshment points every 5 kilometers, and all runners receive a free start bag, deposit bag, changing rooms, and an SMS with finish times in 7 languages. Every runner that completes the course will get a medal at the finishing line.

Other special offers by the marathon include a free massage before and after the race, and one free entry for family members.

“I was not thinking about who to take yet, but I will probably go for my dad,” says Zubova. “I think the massage will be too crowded, so I have my own booked already. After the marathon, my family will get me to the car and take me directly to the wellness center,” she adds with a laugh.

For dog-lovers there is always the Pedigree Dog Walk, scheduled for May 12. It will take place at Výstaviště in Holešovice, on a 4.5-km course through Stromovka Park. For every registered participant, 1 kg of dog food will be sent to dog shelters. And of course, all participants will receive a proper number – even the hairy ones.

Anyone can join the Prague Marathon; there is no need to be an accomplished runner. People can register as an individual, or for those in need of motivated partners, there are PIM running teams that welcome new members.

But what about the beginning? Certainly, the hardest thing in any kind of running is getting started. According to Lucie Porcálová, a professional workout coach who is also running in the Volkswagen Marathon, beginners must start slow and build up stamina.

Volkswagen Marathon 2011
According to Zubová, you know that you are running at the right speed when you are able to run and speak fluently at the same time.

“It never gets easy, but it can become a habit, or even a dependence,” says Porcálová. “But sport is just like drugs. Once you get used to it, you need to have it.”

Zubová herself admits that training is not always fun. She describes the need to develop the muscles around the lungs and stomach to improve breathing capacities. Even though she has been running intensively for years, she is worried about cramps. “Once you get a cramp, you are done,” she says.

If you are tempted, but still not sure, you can try volunteering at marathon events. About 2,500 volunteers contribute to PIM races every year. They help out at the refreshment points, on the start and finish lines, and preparing the track.

If Zubová does not finish the marathon, it won’t bother her. “Baby steps,” she says with a laugh. “If I run through a half-marathon, half of my dream will come true. Then only a little step will remain to fulfill the whole dream.

“My parents hope this will be my first and my last marathon,” Zubová adds. “But we will see.”

Basic information about the marathon
Start: 9:00, Old Town Square

Time limit: 7 hours
Fees: 2200 CZK/70 EU
Registration Deadline: 8 May
Men’s event record (2010): Eliud Kiptanui/KENYA/2:05:39

Women’s event record (2011): Lydia Cheromei/KENYA/2:22:34

Other upcoming marathons in the Czech Republic
June 23: Volkswagen Olomouc Half-Marathon through Olomouc center
September 16: Usti Nad Labem Marathon, a unique course that leads through the famous chemical factory

For further information:  

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