Not even the cold weather was able to get in the way of the fantastic performances recorded at this year’s Hervis Prague Half Marathon. Kenyan female runner, Gladys Cherono set a new race record with a time of 1:06:48. Among the men, the Eritrean runner Zersenay Tadese emerged as the winner with a time of 1:00:10 – making this the race’s third best winning time on record.
Today’s race witnessed a total of twelve elite runners from all over the world breaking their personal records. And as if this weren’t enough to boast about, the organisers also managed to surpass the number of registered participants with the ground-breaking statistic of 12,500 runners, making history as the largest running event ever held in the Czech Republic. The best local runners were Jiří Homoláč who recorded his best performance yet (1:05:41 in 19th place), and amongst the women, the Olympian Ivana Sekyrová emerged as the strongest performer (finishing in 17th place with a time of 1:15:58).
Prior to the race, Tadese wasn’t shy about sharing his designs on thrashing his own world record time of 58:23 from Lisbon in 2010. The Czech 800 meter world record holder, Jarmila Kratochvílová, was given the responsibility of starting the race, acting as a kind of human talisman for Tedese plus an impressive list of other elite runners who set off on the course followed by Deputy Mayor of Prague, Pavel Richter.
In the second half of the race, however, it became apparent from the split times of the leaders that all hope of breaking the record was lost. “Already yesterday I realized I wasn’t feeling great, and that I was coming down with a cold. On top of that, it was cold, and so I’m really pleased and appreciative about being able to win despite these factors,” commented 31-year old Zersensay Tadese who was shadowed by his training partner, Amanuel Mesel right up until the last stretch. For Mesel it was touch and go as to whether he would take part right up until three days before the race when he was issued his Czech visa at the embassy in Cairo!
“I wanted to stay with the group for as long as possible, only speeding up towards the end,” said the winner. It’s not possible to say how much faster I would have been, had it been warmer. I think I could have run it in under one hour,” he added. “But I really liked it here, both the city as well as the race organization. And I hope that next time I’m here I’ll be able to run even better.”
John Kipsang who finished in third place had the following to say: “It was a huge motivation for me to be able to run along with the record holder, Tadese. I felt great and the course really suited me.”
As regards the race star among women, the race could literally be described as a dream: “The night before, I saw the whole race in my head apart from the finish, so I had no idea how I would do,” the 28- year old athlete and winner of last year’s African Championships n the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, said laughing. I didn’t expect to come out with the best time and I’m really happy to have succeeded. I wasn’t even following the information along the course. I only saw it at the finish line.”
In second the favorite, the young Worknesh Degefa from Ethiopia had the following to say: "I’m pleased with my position, but not with the time. It was cold and we didn’t have any warmer clothes.”
Both of the best Czech runners were really satisfied. “Up until Wednesday I was worried as to whether I would be able to complete the race at all. But I was confident that if I let myself relax it would be OK,” said Jiří Homoláč who ran most of the course alone. “The atmosphere along the course was amazing, especially on the bridges, the spectators really helped me put in my best performance,” the runner said offering words of praise for the general public. Homoláč is now qualified for the A-limit at the Universiade Games.
Ivana Sekyrová began preparing for the race recreantly having spent lots of time during the winter months on cross-country skis. “This was more of a kind of training practice for me but it goes to show that I’m heading in the right direction. My trainers weren’t keen on me pushing it too much. I ran by following my heart rate frequency and also had time to wave at the spectators. It wasn’t until the last six hundred meters that I started thinking about finish times. At the half marathon coming up in Pardubice in two weeks, I want to finish one and a half minutes faster,” she said.
In terms of interesting personalities spotted at the start line, the former football player and Golden Ball winner from the European Championships in 2003, Pavel Nedvěd drew attention from the crowds in his third ever half marathon performance. “It was harder work than last time because right now I’m spending a lot of time on the pitch which doesn’t leave much time for training. But even so, we got through it,” claimed the star who is currently one of the managers for Juventus. Professional racing driver ,Josef Král also took part in the race as did Olympic Silver medallist in white water racing from the London games, Vavřinec Hradilek. Also competing were the former Czech defense minister and member of the renowned aristocratic family, Michal Lobkowitz and the actor/ presenter,DaliborGondík.
You can check out the full results on"www.runczech.com":http://www.runczech.com