The USPE 5th Marathon championships were hosted by the Czech Republic and took place within the Prague Marathon on Sunday 9th May. This beautiful city was a fine location to host any marathon. The city itself remained mostly in tact during the war and so exemplifies some of the most traditional, historical buildings in Europe. The marathon itself has been running for many years and attracts some of the world’s top athletes.
The course itself is mostly flat with a few gradients but the most gruelling feature which tests any athletes legs are the cobbles. The spectators were delighted with the sunny, warm day watching thousands of athletes pounding the streets with Prague at a standstill. For the athletes it was their worst nightmare.
The race started at 9am and as the athletes progressed around the course so did the soaring temperature of the sun. For those mad dogs and English men it was a classic.
The start of the race was in the famous Staromestske Square. The start had 3 phases. The front line hosted the elite athletes, 3 metres behind were the USPE athletes and behind them thousands of members of the public. Due to the calibre of 2 USPE athletes from Russia and the Ukraine it was agreed to let them start with the elite athletes. The atmosphere around the start was electrifying with music, sponsors, TV cameras and lots of pent up athletes ready to pounce.
The PSUK ladies team knew it was likely to be an impossible task to be in the top two places with the Gold and Silver surely to be taken on paper by Russia and the Ukraine however there was all to play for the bronze medal.
The men knew they had a tough battle with many strong teams around them and consequently had to strive for some personal best times to come anywhere near the medals. All were positive with good team spirit and set off with a focussed mind. There were 16 men’s teams, totalling 116 athletes and 7 ladies teams with 47 competing.
The race set off at tremendous pace which took its toll on even the best. However the overall race winner was Eluid Kiptanui from Kenya who smashed the course record by over 2 minutes on this renowned difficult course finishing in 2:05:39 which is the 6th fastest time this year and the 17th fastest of all time. This 20 year old new comer is one to watch.
The first USPE athlete over the line was Andrii Naumov, from Ukraine in fantastic time of 2:13:49 finishing 14th overall, in 2nd place was Taras Salo also from the Ukraine in 2:18:51 and 3rd place went to Mitja Kosovelj from Slovenia in 2:21:33.
Simon Newton from West Yorkshire was the first PSUK athlete home in 31st place in a time of 2:40:03 closely followed by Steve Cairns in 34th place from Lothian and Borders just over a minute behind in 2:41:05. Justin Maxwell from PSNI ran a personal best to finish 3rd PSUK athlete and finish in 37th place in 2:42:01, closely followed by Nigel Bedell, in 40th place from West Yorkshire in 2:43:24. Wayne Usher from Gloucestershire finished in 53 rd place in a time of 2:51:06.
With the first 4 times accumulated the team finished a very credible 7th out of 16. First team prize went to the Ukraine with France taking the Silver and Germany with the Bronze.
The overall ladies race winner was world class athlete Kirop Helena Loshanyang from Kenya in a time of 2:25:29. The first USPE athlete and to take the gold medal was Yuliya Ruban from the Ukraine finishing in 4th place overall in a fantastic time of 2:31:13. The silver medal went to Lyubov Morgunova from Russia in a time of 2:33:17 and the Bronze medal went to Valentyna Poltavska of the Ukraine in 2:39:26.
First PSUK athlete home was Johanna Fletcher from Gloucestershire in 9th place in a new personal best time of 2:53:37. Johanna was clearly delighted with her performance particularly as her family and partner had flown out to watch her compete. 2nd PSUK lady home and finishing 17th overall was Sarah Hill from Hampshire in 3:03:32 followed by Kelly Morgan from South Wales in a personal best time of 3:11:02. Christine Howard from Derbyshire finished in 29th place in 3:15:04 with Janine Brown from Kent not wanting to let the team down, struggled over the line with a calf injury in 3:44:55.
The ladies finished a credible 4th place with Ukraine taking Gold, Russia Silver and Germany the Bronze.
The exhilarating day ended with the closing USPE ceremony and the lowering of the flag before it was handed over to Greece who will be hosting the USPE football championships later this year.