Karlovy Vary Half Marathon
MR photographer Eddie Macdonald runs the Karlovy Vary Half Marathon with his better half and Women’s Running editor Christina.My sole purpose for visiting Karlovy Vary was to pound the cobbled streets flat in the first Mattoni Half Marathon, organised by Run Czech, a member of the IAAF which stages the Prague Marathon each year along with various other events. However, joining 150 stag do revelers on a two hour flight to the Czech Republic was not my ideal way to begin a weekend and it’s certainly something to bear in mind if you’re flying to Prague.
We arrived at Prague Airport at lunchtime on the Friday (the race was on Saturday) and were picked up by the organizers and driven the 90-minute journey to Karlovy Vary, a small spa town established in 1350 by Charles IV. The town is also host to the Grandhotel Pupp, which is a five-star resort which appeared in Casino Royale and was one of the main attractions on the course. The race started at 6pm, which presented its own challenges - a five hour walking tour prior to a half marathon, is not ideal. It also made it really tough on the dietary side as I'm your normal porridge and juice guy. I ended up eating fried cheese on a skewer. Fortunately there weren’t any unpleasant after effects but I had no idea while I was tucking in whether it would cause any issues. I also dined with Boris, a journalist from Russia, who ate a three-course pre-race meal of chocolate ice cream with fresh cream and somehow didn’t experience any dietary issues during the race. It looked a mainly flat course but as I was running with the Mrs who is still recovering from a major knee op, we decided we would take it steadily. As usual I carried my own gels (High 5) and water bottle, filled with local spring water. Weather was a little damp, great for staying cool and for the elites but not so great for bringing out the supporters. Saying that, the support from the people who showed up was electric throughout the course, even in the far-off echelons it was rocking - helped by the numerous bands rocking' out all sorts of tunes. The one thing about a slow runner is that you do get to taste the atmosphere and gander at the surroundings, which were lovely, BUT I'm not a fan of looped courses of which this was. Despite that, the terrain was agreeable and the few hills were minor interruptions followed by long flat sections. Even in the less glamorous, more industrial parts of the town the support was there. Cheery bunch these Czechs. We both enjoyed the race and have to say the organisation was a very high standard and the medal a good souvenir. But as a member of IAAF, you would expect this. Lots of drinks tables and bananas around the course. After the race, we then were faced with a "Mountain Goat" climb back to our hotel, (yes, we roughed it) and what hurt the most was the legs giving way on the stagger back to our rest hole. Men, all I can say is if you take your other half on a trip here, let them (if not running), enjoy the Spa, but please stay in the centre as it is much cheaper than a divorce! In the goody bag we got a torch, a jug (to drink the spa water) and local spa info, but one item prompted the most expensive part of my trip -the muesli bar I broke a tooth on! I, for one love running abroad. This is a long way to travel but I feel if you combine this with a Spa Experience then it’s worth the trip. Just avoid the Friday flights to Prague and maybe come back Monday.
For more information, check out: www.runczech.com/en/