Sun, May 23/99
Marathon # 133 – Country # 11
I had been living in England for one month and had been training and running short races with the Bishops Stortford Running Club but I had not run a marathon since my ‘burnout’ in Mexico in Nov/98. It was time to find out if I could go the distance?
I picked the Prague Marathon since it was a big, popular race in Europe and had a website that made it easy to find and register. Nicole and I decided to go to Prague for a long weekend to run the marathon and play tourist. We arrived on Fri so we would have time to explore the city before the race. We took a tour to enjoy all the tourist sites starting with Old Town. The center of the Old Town, appropriately named Old Town Square, has served as Prague’s main marketplace for over 1000 years. The square is home to most of the major sights, including the city’s famous Astronomical Clock that is part of the Old Town Hall. Old Town's ancient town hall (Staroměstská radnice) was established in 1338 after the agreement of King John of Luxemburg to set up a town council. Several old houses had to be knocked together over the centuries as the Old Town Hall expanded. A Gothic chapel and a neo-Gothic north wing were destroyed by the Nazis in spring 1945. The chapel has been reconstructed. The most popular part of the tower is the Town Hall Clock (Orloj). Originally installed in 1410, the clock was rebuilt by the Master Hanuš in 1490. It consists of three parts – the procession of Apostles, the astronomical clock and the calendar. The main attraction is the hourly procession of the 12 Apostles. The height of the tower is 69.5 m and it offers a great view of the city.
Next was the Prague Castle. It is the largest ancient castle in the world (570 m long, on average 128 m wide, area 7.28 hectares). Constructed in the 9th century by Prince Bořivoj, the castle transformed itself from a wooden fortress surrounded by earthen bulwarks to the imposing form it has today. Rulers made their own additions so there is a mixture of styles. Prague castle has had four major reconstructions, but it keeps its classical facelift it took on in the 18 century during the reign of Maria Theresa.
The castle has three courtyards and it has always been the seat of Czech rulers as well as the official residence.
We concluded the tour back in Old Town Square (Starometske namesti) for dinner and drinks. Hotels in Prague were expensive but meals and beer were cheap!
Around the eight-mile mark we ran through the city center, getting lost in the knotty turns of the Old Town’s narrow cobblestone streets lined with tightly packed Gothic houses that date to medieval times. Along Na Prikope Street we passed Wenceslas Square, the walkway and boulevard that is the site of almost every important moment of Czech modern history, including the country’s declaration of independence in 1918, the Nazi invasion in 1939 and the popular demonstrations of the Velvet Revolution in 1989. I passed 15 Km in 1:22:34 and a split of 5:21/Km and the half in 1:54:43 and a split of 5:23. That was really slow and I felt good so I decided to lower the pace for the 2nd Half.