The first ever Mattoni České Budějovice Half Marathon will also be remembered for recording a fantastic winning performance. In his half-marathon debut, Kenyan runner, Daniel Chebii triumphed with an impressive time of 59:49 – the third fastest result ever achieved on Czech soil! Globally, it is also the 17th best time managed so far this year. Among women runners, Ethiopian favourite Tadelech Bekele emerged as winner with a time of 1:10:54. Two thousand participants supported by thousands of spectators gathered around the course on this humid early evening making for a truly gripping atmosphere.
“I’d been training hard. So I’m pleased it stopped raining and I was able to run so fast,” said the 27 year old Chebii, clearly overjoyed with his result and holding his hands above his head for a long time after reaching the finish line in a triumphant gesture. The whole day had been plagued with rainfall yet started to clear up in the evening with the sun even making an appearance in time for the race. Right up until the 15th km, Chebii dutifully ran alongside fellow compatriot, Henry Kiplagat, before passing him and then accelerating even more. Kiplagat finished second and had the following to say at the finish line:”I really enjoyed the race. I didn’t feel the wind though the cobblestone surface in the Old Town did give me a bit of a hard time.” Bekele on the other hand revealed the following: “I’m pleased to have won but am not particularly happy with my time.”
The best Czech runners were Tomáš Ondráček from Triexpert who completed the race in eleventh place with a time of 1:12:04 and Ivana Sekyrová from AC Sokolov finishing as fourth female with a time of 1:17:57. “I had some stomach problems right from the start, I haven’t suffered like that in ages,” revealed the Czech female Olympian as to why she wasn’t able to launch an assault on smashing her personal best this time around. “For me it was an amazing experience, to see so many people on the streets offering their support here in the Czech Republic, I’ve never seen that before. And I’ve spent the best part of the past three years running local Czech races” Ondráček said describing his race. He had already managed to break away from Jaroslav Dražan (2nd) at the 5th km.
It was also possible to spot a number of well-known faces on the course including former CNB governor, Zdeněk Tůma (1:47:18) who won in the over 50s age category. Also taking part was former Minister of Industry, Vladimír Dlouhý as well as Aleš Tvrdý, a keen runner not deterred by having undergone heart transplant surgery. When it came to the relay races, spectators watched with great interest as teams battled for victory. The foremost elite local formation, Fitness14 comprising Fekl, Faschingbauer, Štefko and Kreisinger took on the leading African runners finishing up as the first relay team and in sixth place overall with a time of 1:06:48.
It was also interesting to watch team of football and ice hockey league players struggle against one another for the best time. In the end the young ice hockey lads triumphed over the football veterans (managed by Jiří Povišer and with the support of Patrick Poborský, the 19 year old son of his famous father) – but only marginally. “It was tough, I ran with my headphones on and towards the end wasn’t able to think about very much at all, “commented a finishing runner from the football team, Martin Vozábal, speaking of the experience.
The Mattoni České Budějovice Half Marathon is the latest race to join the RunCzech.com running series with the city having signed a five –year contract to host the race. The next event on the series calendar is Olomouc Half Marathon coming up in two weeks time (23 June).