The Prague 21.1K – Ready for the Restart was the first outdoor road running event since the outbreak of the coronavirus. It was an invitation-only half-marathon world record attempt, with the highly anticipated adidas adizero adios Pro making its debut in a competitive setting. The special oval course, which was set up in Prague’s Letna Park, was designed for fast times, and 35 of the world’s best distance runners completed 16.6 laps in their attempt to break the men’s and women’s world records. In the end, Peres Jepchirchir broke the women’s record with a time of 1:05:34.
Profession: President- RunCzech (race organisers)
Born in Naples, Italy, Carlo Capalbo moved to Prague in the early nineties and in 1994 founded the Prague International Marathon – a project aimed at establishing the modern concept of long-distance running events that has transformed into a series of races known as RunCzech. RunCzech is known for their world-class and mass participation events and has been awarded a total of 7 World Athletics Gold Label Road Races. Carlo is also the Chairman of the World Athletics Road Running Commission.
What inspired you to host the Prague 21.1K- Ready for the Restart race?
Here at RunCzech we believe in running and mobility for all layers of the society — kids, elderly, recreational runners, competitive athletes. Everyone and anyone. Once the Covid-19 pandemic led to cancellation/postponement of many of our events, we remained active and focused and we established Česko běží dál (Czech Republic keeps on running) during the summer and we managed to run in parks across the country; at airports in Prague, České Budějovice and Karlovy Vary; and even in a brewery in the town of Pilsen. At the same time, we missed competitive sport, we missed the best of the best, we missed that emotion of a record-chase, so we got busy and with the help of many institutions and individuals – we made it happen! Days and weeks to remember, that’s for sure!
The event was organised in just 4 weeks and with Covid-19 restrictions still in place, what challenges did this present?
It was a big ask for the team, lots of new info, lots of new planning, many new rules and regulations. Visas and travel; health protocol; Covid-19 testing on arrival and during the stay in Prague and before departure; quarantine on arrival; hotel protocol; transportation protocol; administration, etc. So much time and effort went into these aspects of the organization, with us really having much less time than ever before for all other work that needed to be done. It was a challenge, big one, which makes all of this that happened around Prague Restart as something to remember and celebrate.
What do you envision the “new normal” of athletics events to look like?
“New normal” will be our old normal. The world has lived through wars, pandemic periods, natural disasters, economic crashes and humanity has always found its way. We will, collectively, manage what is around us as a big challenge, we will go through this period and once again we will meet in the streets, stadia, sports halls – celebrating our personal and collective achievements.
What are the top three innovations that have improved event management in the last five years?
Live tracking of runners. Virtual goodie bag and what it does for marketing and communications. Over-the-top (OTT) format and what it has done for the visibility of our sport – still work in progress, but there is a future for us there in terms of how we deliver events to viewers via multiple channels.
Peres is the current women-only half marathon world record holder, a feat she achieved recently at the Prague 21.1KM with a time of 1:05:34. She is also the 2016 World Half Marathon champion.
What has been a defining moment in your career?
Breaking the half marathon world record at Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in 2017 (1:05:06).
What are the two key aspects you look for when choosing a running shoe?
Cushioning aspect to prevent injuries and neutral balancing shoes so I can have maximum stability.
What role did the adidas adizero adios Pro play in your recent World Record victory?
I was very well prepared to run the world record and the shoes helped me a lot during my preparations as I really managed to increase the training sessions thanks to the shoes. I felt more refreshed after each workout.
What was your goal going into the race?
My main goal was to run and after many months finally go back to a competition. As my preparation had been excellent, I had in my mind to target the world record.
Profession: Creative Director at adidas
Sam has developed some of adidas’ most innovative running shoes, including the adizero adios Pro.
What inspired the design of the adizero adios Pro?
The adidas adizero adios Pro is built from the ground up, and from the inside out to the needs of professional runners. We worked hand in hand with the best athletes in the world to engineer their perfect shoe to win races and break records.
What role do events, such as the Prague 21.1K, play in innovation?
The best shoes built for elite athletes truly come to life in events like the Prague 21.1k. This is where all the training, testing and engineering can be put to work to deliver remarkable human achievements.
What does the future of innovation within athletics look like?
We have seen huge developments in athlete training, nutrition, and psychology. When these developments are put together with radical new products, built with cutting edge biomechanical and material science, we see amazing performances like this year in Prague.
(Banner image credits: RunCzech)