Welcome to the first of what I hope will be a weekly feature where I ‘interview’ runners from around the world about what it’s like to be a runner in their country. Please remember that this is just one person’s view and therefore subjective – I’m not claiming this as groundbreaking journalism but rather a fun way of learning more about the running culture around the world!
We’re kicking off with the Czech Republic, in the heart of Europe. This week’s interview is with the lovely Michaela (or Myjka), a Slovakian living in Prague! I was put in contact with Myjka via our mutual friend Pavlinka, a fellow Slovakian living in the UK. Pav asked her if she’d be willing to speak to me and she gamely said yes!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Myjka. I’m Slovak but I’ve been living in the Czech Republic since 2006. I studied and worked in Brno (the Czech Republic’s second city, 200 km from Prague) and three years ago, I moved to Prague. I live with my boyfriend in the city centre, near the Vlatava River. I’m 27 and I work in Customer Support. I like animals, reading, running and yoga, and I like cooking and baking healthy goods.
Tell us about your running
I started running in March 2012. My first goal was to lose weight – I lost about 40 lbs. I’m not very fast but I like running and now I run for fun. Sometimes I run races. I’ve run six half-marathons and this year I’m planning to run half-marathons in Prague, Karlovy Vary and Ústí nad Labem. I’ve not been running so much over the Winter but Spring is in the air and I’ll run more. I started my blog Bežkyňa in 2012 to help me stay motivated. Bežkyňa means ‘Runner’ in Slovakian.
How popular is running in the Czech Republic?
Running is as popular in the Czech Republic as it is around the world. I’m meeting more and more joggers, and races are selling out weeks in advance. It’s popular with both men and women.
Due to the popularity of running, in Prague we have the first Running Mall – a place where you can train, learn and relax alongside your fellow runners. They organise running events every day. Cat’s note: It’s worth checking this place out via the link above, there’s an English translation button. It looks amazing, I’m jealous!
And I’m going to Nike Training (a running club held at the Prague Nike store) twice a month. I’ve got a running friend there and we are now the best of friends!
What is the racing scene like?
The biggest company is RunCzech. They organises races in 5 Czech cities from the Prague Marathon to some half marathons and some family runs etc. Of course there are a lot of other races…both shorter and more extreme. At the moment, RunTour is really popular – a series of 5k and 10k races in 7 different Czech cities. You can earn loyalty prizes if you run all seven. They also organise kids’ runs of 500 or 1,000 metres too. Also popular is We Run Prague, a 10k race which is organised by Nike. Races cost anything from under 100 Czech crowns ($5/3 GBP) to a thousand crowns ($50/30GBP), depending on how big the race is.
The biggest race in the Czech Republic is the Prague Marathon in May with 10,000 participants (roughly $120 entry fee) and the Prague Half Marathon in April, which has about 9,000 participants, but my favourite is the half-marathon in Karlovy Vary due to the beautiful views of the city.
Is trail racing popular there?
Trail Racing is getting bigger here, like in America. For example, we have the ŠUTR ,a trail ultra near Prague. Also really popular is the Spartan obstacle race!
Which brands are popular in the Czech Republic?
My favourite is Nike but I can get cheaper running clothes at Tchibo (a cafe that sells running clothes every few months) or DirectSport, so I tend to shop there. I wear Adidas shoes.
Tell us about the running media.
I know of Behej.com (both a website and a published magazine) and Run. There was a magazine called Bĕžec (‘Runner’) which I wrote a few articles for, but sadly the magazine closed.
Who are people’s running heroes?
My favourite running star is Miloš Škorpil. He is a trainer and ultramarathon runner and he is the founder of a running school – Bĕžecká Škola.
Are there other Czech running blogs out there?
Finally…what is the best and the worst thing about running in the Czech Republic?
The best thing is that you can always find someone to run with if you want to. The worst thing? Running through the cold, dark Czech winters!
Thanks so much Myjka for all your help pulling this post together! Do check out her blog, there’s a ‘translate’ button so you can see it in English.
I would really welcome your feedback about the structure of these Running The World posts. Are there any questions or issues you want me to cover in particular, were there any questions I missed out? Please feel free to let me know.