(30-Jun) -- The 2020 Volkswagen Prague Marathon, which had been postponed from May 3, to October 11 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has now been cancelled. In addition two other important road races in Prague which are also organized by the Czech Republic's most important race organizer RunCzech, the Sportisimo Prague International Half-Marathon and Birell Grand Prix, have also been cancelled. All three events had received World Athletics Gold Label status.
PHOTO: Athletes on the starting line of the 2017 Birell Grand Prix in Prague including Norway's Sondre Nordstad Moen on the far right (photo courtesy of RunCzech)
"We were ready with our races," wrote RunCzech president Carlo Capalbo in an open letter to the runners and other stakeholders involved in his organization's events. "Everyone was in place. Our team. Our volunteers. Our partners and suppliers. Everything was ordered and most of it in our warehouse. And then? COVID."
Capalbo continued: "We hoped against hope that autumn would be better. But it was not to be."
Large sporting events will not be permitted in the center of Prague, Capalbo explained, forcing the cancellations. He said that all registered runners will have the option to transfer their entries to the 2021 or 2022 editions of these events for no additional cost.
"The decision taken is extremely difficult for us," Capalbo added. "But we take comfort knowing that Czech government officials had the foresight and the wisdom to take action designed to keep us safe. We take comfort knowing that our health care professionals were tireless and brilliant in helping to treat the virus. We take comfort knowing that when it hurts this bad we must be doing something good. And we take comfort knowing that we will run again."
The Sportisimo Prague International Half-Marathon, part of the international SuperHalfs race series, was originally scheduled for Saturday, March 28, but was then postponed until Sunday, September 6. The Birell Grand Prix, a 10-K with a women's 5-K, was always scheduled for Saturday, September 5. Collectively, these events had 26,192 finishers in 2019, according to the Race Results Weekly Athletes Performance Database. The half-marathon was the largest event with 10,517 finishers.
Capalbo emphasized that RunCzech's other races outside of Prague were still scheduled to happen on the revised schedule his organization issued earlier this year: the Mattoni Olomouc Half-Marathon (August 30), Mattoni Ústí Half-Marathon (September 19), Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half-Marathon (October 24), and Mattoni Ceské Budejovice Half-Marathon (October 31).
These cancellations in Prague follow closely the cancellations of three of the running industry's most important events: the Boston Marathon (postponed from April 20, to September 14, before being cancelled), the BMW Berlin Marathon (September 27) and the TCS New York City Marathon (November 1). Dozens of other fall road races have also been cancelled across the Americas, Europe and Japan including large and important events like the Great North Run Half-Marathon in England, Buenos Aires Marathon in Argentina, the Dam tot Damloop 10 Mile in the Netherlands, the Paris-Versailles 16-K in France, and the Osaka Marathon in Japan.
Capalbo, an Italian who has lived in the Czech Republic for decades, remains optimistic. "Very often, over the course of our 27-year history, when we've faced adversity, we've looked for inspiration from our guiding spirit, Emil Zatopek," Capalbo wrote. "A man who famously said that when you feel like you can't go on, 'go faster.'"