European runners took the spoils at the Karlovy Vary Half Marathon on Saturday (19) as RunCzech, with the support of European Athletics, launched the EuroHeroes initiative which aims to promote elite long distance running in Czech Republic and Europe more widely.
“It is very important that European athletes get more opportunities to race at the top level in road races across Europe and EuroHeroes is a fantastic initiative to encourage and promote our road race stars on the continent.” said European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen on the initiative.
The focus of attention in the elite races was Czech Republic’s Eva Vrabcova-Nyvltova who duly became the first domestic winner of a RunCzech event in eighteen years, winning the elite women’s race by more than four minutes in 71:54.
“Until recently I could never have envisaged winning such a race. It’s an amazing feeling,” said the winner, who has represented Czech Republic at both the Winter and Summer Olympics.
“I didn’t have any target finishing time in mind, but even so it was tough right from the start – I was running alone, there was a strong wind and I didn’t appreciate seeing all the guys run past me. Fortunately two men caught up with me at the tenth kilometre, and worked amazingly well with me, which helped me out a lot. I’m going to have to think of some kind of suitable reward,” said Vrabcova-Nyvltova.
In traditional RunCzech race style, she was also spurred on by the fantastic crowds lining the streets. “I had an amazing race and really loved the backdrop. I could really feel the support of those watching which is one of the reasons why I love RunCzech races so much,” she said.
Vrabcova-Nyvltova won by a decisive margin from Ukraine’s Olha Kotovska (76:16) and this win - arguably the biggest of her career thus far - will give the Czech runner a lot of confidence as she prepares for the marathon at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships.
“It has allowed me to fulfil a dream of mine and hear the Czech national anthem at a RunCzech race. I’m also aware that the world is still out there and it’s a huge source of inspiration for me to keep on improving,” added Vrabcova-Nyvltova.
The men’s race was a more competitive affair as Ukraine’s Roman Romanenko pulled away from Spain’s Houssame Benabbou in the 14th kilometre for victory in 63:58 to 64:16. “I felt good and told myself I’d try to go for it. I believed I was capable of maintaining my pace right until the finish and am pleased I managed to do it,” he said.
This year’s Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon saw almost 4000 runners taking part in the main race. The accompanying Family Run played host to over 2,700 participants.
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