9 questions to discover a race : Warsaw Half Marathon

30 Dec 2009 11:03
Jean-Loup Fenaux
Interview Focus on a race

Warsaw half marathon -  Marek Tronina
My guest for this interview is Marek Tronina. He gives me the opportunity to visit a new country in my interview journey around the globe. A country famous for its endurance runners and walkers : Poland.

This interview is also a little special for two reasons. Firstly, it is the first one to feature a half marathon. And secondly it is the last interview of the year.

Marek has been the race director of Warsaw Halfmarathon since it was founded in 2006. He is a marathoner himself, with 11 full marathons under his belt.

Hello, on March 28th 2010, you’ll be organizing the Warsaw Half Marathon . Can you tell us where it is located?

Well, the Warsaw Halfmarathon is located right in the heart of Poland’s capital. To make sure everyone knows what we are talking about – Warsaw is a Central European city with 2 million inhabitants, convenietly accessible with all major airlines.

This will be the 5th edition of the race. Why was it created in the first place?

Well, the story is we used to have a marathon and a half-distance on the same day for a few years. But then we found out that there is a niche in the running calendar in Poland and that a major halfmarathon at the end of March is probably a good idea.

And it was! We have probably become the fastest growing 21K in Europe – one thousand finishers in 2006 and four thousand in 2009. In 2010 the target is to clear the 5000 mark.

What kind of route have you set up for the runners? How would you describe it?

It is very scenic. As a matter of fact – I can hardly imagine a course in this city that could be more scenic. It starts and ends in the heart of the Old Town (but do not worry, no cobble stones), it loops the downtown, takes you to the other side of the Vistula river, brings you down the zoo, then you cross the river again, run through the green area of the city and then – icing on the cake – leads you through a tunnel (roughly half a mile long) where there is always lots of music inside and most runners can’t stop tears.

And it is fast, although there is an uphill section some 2 kilometers from the finish line.

How many runners do you expect on Sunday morning? What type of runners do you plan to attract?

As i said before – 5 thousand is the expected number. And this year we focus on bringing as many women as possible. The percentage of female runners in Poland is still low (15%) last year and we want them to believe they can do it. So, everyone is welcome, but if you happen to be a woman – you are most welcome!

Warsaw half marathon

Do you organize other races during the Week-End? If so, on what distances?

The tradition is to have a 5 per 5 relay in Saturday – the day before the main distance. It is 5 legs of 5K each. It is a great warm-up and a chance for those who still feel 21K is too much.

At that time of the year, what kind of weather can we expect?

10-12 degrees, windless, sunny. Believe it or not, but this is the kind of weather we have had here for the past three years. A perfect spring opener for a runner, isn’t it?

Have you planned festivities around the marathon?

Certainly. First of all, there is always a lot to do in the marathon village – expo, seminars, pasta party, fun runs, etc.

And on the race day we have marathon music festival. This year we will focus on Chopin as Poland is celebrating the 200th anniversary of his birth. So you will have a chance to pace yourself by the notes of Poland’s most famous composer.

The marathon finished, what advice would you give a runner who has never been to Warsaw before? A good restaurant, a fancy sightseeing?

Warsaw is unusual for one thing – it has lots of parks and green areas, with lots of spectacular views hidden therein. So, if you fancy some architecture go to Lazienki park – it is huge and it has lots of great buildings erected mostly in the XVIII century.

Another cannot-miss is the Royal Road – a main drag of Polish kings on their way from the old capital (Crakow) to the new one (Warsaw). Actually, we start and finish the race on the Royal Road. If you are a club-goer, Warsaw is a great place to do it. We have lots of clubs all around the place. Finally, in Chopin’s year it makes sense to do some sight seeing with the composer in mind.

In a single sentence, what would you tell the readers of ahotu Marathons to make them register for the Warsaw Half Marathon?

Well, it is as easy as going to www.polmaratonwarszawski.pl/en, then click on Registration and fill the entry form. The entry fee is 20 euro and you can pay online. This is it.