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THE PRAGUE HALF MARATHON Running through


This month Julia Armstrong reports from streets of historic Prague, and recalls a uniquely Eastern European experience of barefooted runners, cobbles and helicopters!


L


eaving for Prague on Thursday afternoon I felt excited. I was really looking forward to my trip, having not ‘roved’ as Running Free’s Roving Reporter since New Year’s Eve in Barcelona.


“Malcolm, from Running Crazy, was there to greet a gang of


us who had all arrived at the airport at the same time. I went straight to my room, ordered a club sandwich and was soon in bed. I slept soundly, waking to a sunny morning.


On a road to nowhere


“I looked at the map Malcolm had given me to find my way to the park and set off for a short run. I never found the park, but I had a lovely run anyway, and it was so warm. Showered and dressed, ready to explore, I asked the lady on reception for a metro ticket. ‘Where are you going?’ she asked. ‘I don’t know,’ I replied. She seemed a little surprised, but gave me a return ticket suggesting that the one she had given me would take me to the old town and that I would like it there. “I did like it there, the square was full of activity and people sitting in the streets enjoying beer and coffee and lunching lazily. I wandered about admiring horses drawing carriages, hearing the sound of a bugler every hour, and I sat in the square while I ate lunch in the sun, daydreaming my day away in beautiful Prague. “The gang of 53 runners gathered in the hallway of our hotel


in preparation for the evening half marathon. We set off on the tube and after a couple of stops, we spilled out to join the


masses making their way to the start, right by the splendid Rudolfinium, the home of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and where most of the spring concerts are held.


Rebel with a cause! “On my number I had the letter ‘J’, but as I ran over the bridge I knew straight away that nothing was going to make me stand in the ‘J’ section, several thousand runners back! I am not sure how the system was created, but I’m happily a rule breaker and challenger of authority when I don’t think it makes sense, so I made my way to the ‘A’ section! There were girls checking people’s numbers as they went in. I slipped by, but was caught by a young man who tried to make me go back to the ‘Js’. I said ‘I’m fast, I promise’ but he was having none of it, so I slipped away and lost myself in the crowds and got myself to a few rows back from the start!


A surreal start – behind an iron curtain


“As I stood surrounded by the runners a chap behind me said, ‘Perhaps we are all about to be abducted, all 10,000 of us, this


34 ■ RUNNING FREE


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