For many running enthusiasts in the Czech Republic and beyond, the month of May means only one thing – the Prague International Marathon (PIM).
The main event is the 42km marathon, known officially as the Volkswagen Prague Marathon, which was held recently. But don’t worry if you missed it because there is much more to the extensive PIM programme. Other races are held in March and September, as well as a range of accompanying events.
Yet the Prague International Marathon hasn’t always been a major sporting event. It all started very modestly in 1994, believe it or not, in a pub. Businessman Carlo Capalbo and his marathon-winning fellow Italian Gelindo Bordin came up with the idea of establishing a Prague marathon, modelling it on the famous London, New York and Berlin marathons. They also wanted to promote healthy lifestyles and attract participants of all ages from all and backgrounds. Despite teething problems and initial scepticism, the first Prague Marathon was held in May 1995, and 950 runners participated. Ethiopian Tummo Turbo was the winner, completing the course in 2 hours, 12 minutes and 44 seconds. Astonishingly, he took his first drink of the race only after he crossed the finishing line!
PIM has enjoyed enormous success over the years, reflected in the growing number participants, which rose to 7,934 to in the 2010 main marathon race. The number of athletes is split almost evenly between locals and international runners. Besides the 42km race, the programme includes the Prague half marathon, which was first held in 1999 and takes place in March. It has become the most popular event of the PIM events. In September a series of shorter races known as the Grand Prix. This year PIM moved beyond the capital, as marathons were held in the cities of Ustí nad Labem and Olomouc.
Today, the main PIM race is firmly established as one of the leading international marathons, and it has won Gold Label status from the International Association of Athletics Federations, emphasising PIM’s prestige. The course also boasts a global ranking as one of the world’s most scenic routes – how many other international marathons cross one of the world’s most beautiful bridges? And of course the race attracts some of the world’s best long-distance runners.
Marathon fans are always eager to see if any of these elite athletes will break records and were rewarded in 2010, when several records were smashed. Kenyan Eliud Kiptanui ran the men’s race in 2 hours, 5 minutes 39 seconds, while Helena Kirop won the women’s race in 2 hours, 29 minutes and 29 seconds.
If you plan to be in Prague for any of the PIM events why not consider booking accommodation with Bohemia Apartments. As well as offering comfortable accommodation at a great price, all of our apartments are located in the heart of Prague, so you can guarantee that you’ll be close to all of the marathon action.