The 6th chapter of Mattoni Ústí nad Labem Half Marathon was written on September 17 last year. An amazing one. It became 5th fastest half marathon in the World in 2016 thanks to a great achievement of winning Barselius Kipyego from Kenya with a time of 59:15. Next to the elite athletes is the race dedicated to thousands of “hobby” runners who took place either in the Half Marathon or who joined the dm Family Run. Behind each start number, each pair of eyes watching and cheering, each organizer and volunteer, there is a unique story.
The race prologue belongs to handbike riders. 60 minutes plus one extra two kilometres long lap of the SPOLCHEMIA Czech cup in HANDBIKE. Those who were fastest reached speed of 30 K per hour.
First place was a national team member, Václav Antal with a time of 1:05:40. However, applause to all male participants and one female among them.
The Half Marathon is very well known in the Northern region. It’s just the kind of event you must see. “Rain? We don’t mind. Let’s do it, we will enjoy it. Three K throughout the center? Easy peasy”, says the voice of dm Family Run attendees.
Some of the little ones takes it very seriously and act as athletic stars. The others just run or even walk. But the possibility to run through the city center is for most of them an unforgettable experience. Maybe one day, one of them will become a running champion.
Children and their parents, grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles, groups of friends, that's how diverse the final line up can get. A medal at the finish with everybody waiting.
This is the very end of the prologue and main chapter is ahead of us. Rain is slowly becoming weaker, the air is clean, there is no wind and the temperature is perfect. It is ideal conditions for great achievements.
Deep concentration. Self immersion, the start is in a few seconds. “Square of Peace, I wish, you will welcome me as a winner. I do believe in my powers.”
“It is about the joy, when all of the hours of preparing finally pays off, the conscience that we can do it, that we will exceed ourselves, that we will attack our personal bests.”
Kipyego is ahead of his pacemaker already. His split time at the tenth kilometer, 28:04 is very promising. Maybe he will break coveted time of below one hour.
The local chemical plant. A scene like from Vladimír Páral novel. This is where engineer, Vicor Panc and Edita Beningerová were walking in Young Man a White Whale story. Now, the first elite runner is passing through. Africans, who have never heard of Páral. Strange. Odd? Maybe, but original for sure.
We can see Petr Zuda, hobby runners, passing now through the chemical plant. He has won many regional races. Evidence of the running boom is found here in the Northern region. He runs on a daily bases to work and back home. You can find a lot of people with similar habits here in Ustí nad Labem. Afterall it brings an amazing time for him: 1:19:12. The colorful “snake” of hobby runners threads around factory building edges by pipelines. Normally none can enter this area. But once a year during the Half Marathon, runners can.
The course itself is colorful too. Start and finish is in the center at the Square of Peace.
Industrial parts are being altern by Střekov neighborhood leading to the Střekov castle and by the Labe river. Above the runners is a guard to keep watch of the majestic pilot Marian Bridge.
Square of Peace - Střekov - Předlice- Svádov and back. This is the return ticket to the finish line every year.
Competition goes hand in hand with solidarity. "I will fight for my best possible time," he says determinedly apart of the two members race category. "I'll wait and tighten it to the finish together," he calls his friend a runner.
Running can be practiced at any age. "Life isn’t an extension by sport, but a significant increase in its quality," say the doctors. Antonin Hornák thinks so too. Sixty years old, but faces the entire half marathon with a smile.
What symbolism. Doc. Edvard Bridge connects the city with the city district Střekov, running unites all those who, in a good sense, are addicted to running. In September, when the half marathon takes the place, you can meet in Usti, probably the race with the highest number of smiling people. Worries, at least for the day, are forgotten.
The number of participants of the Mattoni Half Marathon makes it the largest single sporting event in the region. Local people have accepted it , counted on it, looked forward to it, and enjoyed it.
"You are the fun, what a shame that we can not run with you a bit. But wait in a few years ... "
Most fans are cheering at the Square of Peace in place of the start and finish. But a lot of them are encouraging participants on the bridge and Doc. Edvard Benes, Střekov.
A group of fans with pots, lids and bells, persistently encouraging participants at the Střekov part of the city. You can hear them during the Half Marathon every year. "They are great, thank you very much, it helps a lot," says the finishers.
Thousands of them come to watch the best ones, but also to see their heroes, runners who are not fighting for the top positions. They encourage everyone, the first runner as well as last can all appreciate.
"We are here, waiting for you, my running hero."
With a whistle in mouth or around a neck is non-stop encouragement. Passing you cups of water or iron drinks, a sponge to wipe the sweat, provide information to viewers. Cheers from start to finish, and all equally. Without the volunteers it would not work. Thanks to you.
"I did it." a number of runners, who conquer the Half Marathon is increasing annually.
"I'm excited, I overcame my personal best." Emotions at the finish line gushing endorphins, fatigue alternating euphoria. "See you here in a year again," laughs at the finish of regular participants.
A gold label for the organization awarded to the race by the International Association of Athletics Federations IAAF, the supreme body of world athletics. A gold label for the organization awarded to the race by the International Association of Athletics Federations IAAF, the supreme body of world athletics.
What was the sixth edition of Mattoni Usti nad Labem Half Marathon? Marked with the grade A. Great news flew thru the world. Race record, a fantastic time for the male winner. Usti nad Labem host of the Half Marathon on a world level. Enjoyed by 3,600 runners, three thousand participants in the dm Family Run. Good bye and we will see you next year in September again.