Pre-race favourites Rachik and Fisikovici prevail in Karlovy Vary

Yassine Rachik

Italy's Yassine Rachik was a commanding winner of the men's race in the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon on Saturday, the first of four RunCzech races to support the EuroHeroes Challenge.

Fresh from setting lifetime bests in the London Marathon last month, Yassine Rachik and Lilia Fisikovici were in winning form at the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon, a five-star certified road race by European Athletics Running for All, on Saturday (18) evening. 

Rachik clocked 2:08:01 in the British capital less than a month ago and didn’t elicit any ill-effects from those exertions, winning in 62:59 by nearly two minutes ahead of Ukraine’s reigning champion Roman Romanenko in 64:38 with compatriot Mykola Yukhimchuk third in 64:59. 

The Karlovy Vary Half Marathon is the first of four races on the RunCzech calendar this year to support the EuroHeroes programme. Backed by European Athletics for a second year, EuroHeroes - and the EuroHeroes Challenge which inaugurated in Karlovy Vary - first and foremost puts the spotlight on elite Czech and European distance runners. 

Fisikovici was one of the initial beneficiaries of EuroHeroes as she won the Ceske Budejovice Half Marathon last year which she used as a springboard to lower her Moldovan marathon record to 2:28:26 in Ljubljana and then 2:27:26 in London. 

Still fresh legged after that performance, Fisikovici took her second win in a EuroHeroes race in 72:34. She will look for a third when she defends her title in Ceske Budejovice on 1 June. 

“I wanted to run under 1:11 but the course is hilly and at that moment didn't allow me a better time,” remarked Fisikovici. “I feel at home in the Czech Republic, I am very happy to come back to Ceske Budejovice.”

Fisikovici was no match for the Ukrainian contingent on show. Olha Kotovska was a distant second in 74:32 with Viktoriya Kalyuzhna third in 74:45. 

Around 4000 runners took part in the Karlovy Vary Half Marathon and another 3000 participants started the non-competitive family run.

The Mattoni Olomouc Half Marathon on 15 June is also part of the EuroHeroes Challenge before concluding at the Mattoni Usti nad Labem Half Marathon on 21 September.

The European Athletics Quality Road Race standards act as an assurance for road runners throughout Europe. They distinguish between races that respect the standards and those that haven’t sought certification or assessment. They form the foundation of Running for All, a strong recognisable brand for running activities throughout Europe.

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