25 years of #PragueMarathon
1998One of the fastest marathon courses in the world and over the Charles Bridge for the first time
Each and every edition of Prague International Marathon brought something new. Either a new race was added, or the Marathon course was adjusted to become more appealing to the runners. The fourth edition was not an exception and offered both. Together with the competitive and non-competitive runs, the in-line skaters were welcomed, for the first time. The marathon course was also modified and newly the course led over the Charles Bridge, for the first time. This change even increased the magical atmosphere of the course, which goes mostly through the streets of the old Prague. Nevertheless, the fourth edition brought one more novelty. Prague International marathon was established as the Czech Championship for the domestic runners.
Elijah Lagat from Kenya has become the winner of the main race and behind his victory is very interesting story. When Lagat was 25 years old, he worked in the personal department of Ministry of Education in Kenya. This job has led him to become overweight. He was advised by a doctor to start running, to get rid of his extra fat. After 6 years of running, Lagat has become one of the fastest marathon runners in the world and he won the Prague international Marathon in a time of: 2:08:52. Lagat, for the fourth time in a row, improved the course record and started rumors of Prague International Marathon, having one of the fastest courses in the world.
Also in 1997, a new race introduced. Technical director of PIM, Gelindo Bordin, came with an idea to organize a race dedicated only to high school students, that takes place on the course of Prague International Marathon. This was the origin of Junior Marathon Championship, that is still being organized today.
The Golden Ten was renamed and moved to September. Newly, the race was called Mattoni Grand Prix and in the winner was Paul Tergat, previous 10k world record holder.
The main race, Prague International Marathon, attracted also due to increased prize money many great athletes, lead by John Kagwe from Kenya. John Kagwe confirmed his role of a favorite and he won the Prague International Marathon 1997, setting a new course record of 2:09:07. The quality of elite athletes was proven by the fact that 7 runners managed to run under the previous course record time and the winner was determined just after the sprint towards the finish line.
Apart from the marathon race, the non-competitive races for 9km and 4,5km took place. All three races attracted more than 30 000 runners. Carlo Capalbo made the following remark about the 1997 season: “On the map of the biggest world marathons we have already made a strong mark. The biggest satisfaction for us is the fact that people from all over the world found out that Prague is not only a city of inimitable beauty, but a city of sport as well.”
After successful first edition, the organization team led by Carlo Capalbo decided to introduce another race, to make the second edition more interesting - an elite race for 10km. Overall, the second edition of the Marathon weekend held 4 courses - marathon, The Golden Ten and non-competitive 9,5 km and 5,5 km.
Sunday of 19th May 1996 has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of runners compared to 1995. The Prague International Marathon was run by 1330 runners, the non-competitive 9,5km - 10 500 runners and the kids run - 18 000 young enthusiasts. The number of participants has almost doubled since the first edition.
Wiliam Musyoki became the winner of the marathon distance, securing the win in 2:12:21, time which marked his personal best and also the course record. Elena Vinickaya won among women and she was the only one to break the hegemony of the African runners. The second edition of Prague International Marathon exceeded the premiere of the race in 1995 and increased the quality of the organization to a new level.
Like so many things in the Czech Republic, the idea of staging an international marathon in Prague came over a pint of beer. It was a fine autumn Saturday in November 1994, and Carlo Capalbo was sitting in a small bar with his friend and fellow Italian Gelindo Bordin, winner of the marathon at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. After they drew a draft of the racecourse on a napkin they decided to call Emil Zátopek to ask for his support. The famous Emil Zátopek, three gold medals holder from the Summer Olympics in Helsinki.
There were 985 runners, who took part in the first edition of the Prague Marathon, but it was not only them running. There were two more distances people could join - 9,2 km and 4,8 km. The capacity of these runs were increased several times and in total 15 000 people (children and adults) participated.
The winner was Turbo Tummo in time 2:12:44 (ETH) and the fastest women was Svetlana Tkach 2:38:33 (UKR).