New, Formula One-like team marathon race launched in Prague

Sports events and athlete management company RunCzech's head Carlo Capalbo (right) congratulates Kenya's Peres Jepchirchir after she broke the world half marathon record at a special event organised by RunCzech in Prague on September 5, 2020. 

Photo credit: Runczech |

What you need to know:

  • The Czech Republic claims ownership to Pilsner-styled beer, which they say was first brewed in the Czech city of Plzen in 1842.
  • The brewery run was crafted at the home of Pilsner - the Pilsen Brewery - with its historical cellars part of the course.

When Covid-19 tossed sports to the back-burner, innovation was triggered and athletes, along with sports organisers, conjured up unique ways to stay afloat.

RunCzech, organisers of the annual Volkswagen Prague Marathon, even came up with creative runs on airport runways and, yes, in a brewery!

RunCzech and Ikaika Sports official Davor Savija urges on Kenya's Amos Kurgat Kibiwot during a special half marathon race organised by RunCzech in Prague on September 5, 2020. RunCzech have launched a new marathon team race to be run in Prague on May 30.

Photo credit: Runczech |

The Czech Republic claims ownership to Pilsner-styled beer, which they say was first brewed in the Czech city of Plzen in 1842.

The brewery run was crafted at the home of Pilsner - the Pilsen Brewery - with its historical cellars part of the course.

With professional athletes worldwide lacking an opportunity to compete, for the better part of last year, RunCzech, under the leadership of Italy-born lawyer-entrepreneur Carlo Capalbo, then pulled off the coronavirus pandemic season’s first international distance running event.

With the world’s top half marathon runners touching down at Prague’s Vaclav Havel International Airport, the “Prague 21.1-kilometre Ready for the Restart” race did not disappoint, as Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir shattered the women-only world half marathon record clocking a time of one hour, five minutes and 35 seconds in the race run on the iconic Letna Park in the Czech capital.

Kibiwott Kandie completed a Kenyan double, winning the men’s race in 58:38.

The men's field takes off during the "Prague ready for the Restart" special race organised by RunCzech in Prague on September 5, 2020. RunCzech have launched a new marathon team race to be run in Prague on May 30.

Photo credit: Runczech |

Now, Capalbo and co. have come up with yet another revolutionary idea, a Formula One-styled team marathon race they call the “Battle of the Teams” which will be run in Prague on May 30, and which they say “makes the marathon an even more strategic, complex and engaging spectacle.”

In this new, unique format, the competing teams will be comprised of eight runners - four women and four men – with two of the runners racing as backups in the event that one of the starting six fails to complete the race, the organisers explained.

“The teams will be made up of runners from Africa, Europe and elsewhere and one runner on each team will be from the Czech Republic.

Kenya's Peres Jepchirchir on her way to breaking the women-only world half marathon record at the "Prague ready for the Restart" special race organised by RunCzech in Prague on September 5, 2020. RunCzech have launched a new marathon team race to be run in Prague on May 30.

Photo credit: Runczech |

Runners will be awarded points based on the World Athletics scoring system.

“The idea is to assemble four teams, each made up of eight marathoners chosen from among the best in the world, with each team supported by a different corporate partner.

“Runners would be assembled and “drafted” into teams based on their personal bests over the past 48 months, so that their collective abilities would be evenly—almost perfectly—matched.”

The exciting part of the “Battle of the Teams” race, they say, is the fact that the competition isn’t over when the first runner crosses the finish line.

“It’s only over when the last runner crosses the finish line. The model is similar to Formula 1 Racing where every teammate earns points based on his or her performance,” the RunCzech statement explained.

“Crucially, this keeps fans on the edge of their seats until the very end, it keeps TV viewers glued to their screens, and it means that early finishers will be standing by cheering their teammates on.”

RunCzech founder Carlo Capalbo and Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek pose with Kenyan athletes during the launch of the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro running shoe in Prague, Czech Republic, on September 3, 2020. RunCzech have launched a new marathon team race to be run in Prague on May 30.

Photo credit: Runczech |

The May 30 race will start at Prague’s iconic city’s most cherished landmarks, The Charles Bridge, and will complete 13 loops in the heart of Prague, finishing in the Old Town Square.

“When the world shut down because of Covid-19, people were desperate, in wanting to continue to see great team competition.

“But this new twist also makes the sport vastly more interesting for people with a casual interest in the marathon, and for runners themselves,” Capalbo said on Wednesday.

Over the last 26 years, Capalbo has been fighting to promote health and fitness both in the Czech Republic and globally, seeking to make running an integral part of the Czech lifestyle.

RunCzech founder Carlo Capalbo explains a point during the launch of the Adidas Adizero Adios Pro running shoe in Prague, Czech Republic, on September 3, 2020. RunCzech have launched a new marathon team race to be run in Prague on May 30.

Photo credit: Runczech |

Over 1.2 million runners have participated in RunCzech events since the organisation’s inception.

Capalbo, who is also a member of World Athletics’ innovation team, believes the new marathon concept will revolutionize running.

“This most ancient sport in the world needs to be refreshed,” he told a Zoom media briefing for selected athletics journalists from global media houses, including the Nation Media Group.

“This is a three-year project and we hope people will be acquainted with it, absorb and adopt it. Athletics is wrongly perceived as an individual sport, but the result of every victory is the result of team effort.”

Capalbo, a former rugby player, hopes to see the race concept evolve over the three-year period.

“Basically in the first year we launch the concept and hope it’s taken up by other organisers and we awake and engage communities.

“In the second year, thanks to technology, we may still have four teams, maybe six, maybe eight, but what’s important is all the 15,000 people that run our marathon will come up with their own teams, virtually.

“In year three, we think that we can apply the fantasy model – what the young people keep playing from morning to evening. We hope that after the three years we can develop the way, for instance, the sport of rugby has developed.”

The “Battle of the Teams” concept took two months to develop. It will feature an NBA-style draft, live on television, where the four team captains will pick eight balls, representing the athletes, to make the teams as balanced as possible.

Battle of the Teams Fact box:

Teams consist of eight members—four women and four men;

Two of the runners will run as backups in the event that one of the starting six fails to complete the race;

Teams will be made up of runners from Africa, Europe and elsewhere. One runner on each team will be from the Czech Republic;

Runners will be awarded points based on the World Athletics scoring system;

Any runner who runs a personal best in the competition will be awarded 10 percent bonus points;

Runners will be grouped in a way that makes the teams most competitive, based on each runner’s personal best over the previous 48 months;

A title partner will support each team. And each team will run under one color scheme;

Each runner is awarded points according to the time he or she finishes with. Six runners will have their points added together, and the team with the highest total wins;

Prize money for the team event will be divided equally among team members;

Individual winners will earn separate cash prizes consistent with marathons in the past;

Team captains (non-running team members) will be chosen from among Czech Republic sports figures (tennis, hockey, football) to promote and inspire their teams;

“Draft Day” will be broadcast on television in a ceremony similar to UEFA Champions’ League Draft. Team captains will represent their teams;

This is not a large-scale, mass-participation event. Only the teams will participate. No other runners apart from approximately eighty of the best Czechs in what is also their National Marathon Championships;

For other runners who are craving a marathon, RunCzech is hosting the Volkswagen Prague Virtual Marathon during the period from May 3 to May 31;

10 percent of every registration fee received for the Volkswagen Prague Virtual Marathon will be donated to one of four charities. One charity per team;

Each team will choose the charity that it wishes to support;

Name partners for each team have agreed to contribute a matching amount, doubling what is raised from Volkswagen Prague Virtual Marathon registrations.

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