On September 8, more than 71,000 competitors from all over the Czech Republic stood at the starting line of the Olympic Run. Pupils from 320 schools took part in the largest running event in the country in the morning hours. At exactly 6 p.m., thanks to a live start on the airwaves of the Radiožurnál radio station, the competitors started running in 89 different places throughout the country.
The Prague race in Hvězda Park was started by actor Václav Neužil. He thus symbolically took over the role of the legendary runner Emil Zátopek, who was the starter of the first edition of the 1987 Olympic Run at Strahov. "This is the first time I’m starting a race, but it's a wonderful feeling that 35 years later I can follow Emil Zátopek in this task," said Neužil, who excellently portrayed Zátopek in the film of the same name.
I spent five years running here in Hvězda Park in preparation for the filming of Zátopek. Running has sort of become a daily bread for me.
"I spent five years running here in Hvězda Park in preparation for the filming of Zátopek. Running has sort of become a daily bread for me, although now I run only when I really feel like it since we stopped filming," added Neužil.
Before the start of the race, the actor handed over a gift to competitor Zbyněk Fojtík, who took part in all the 35 editions of the run. "I was in the army back then and we went to Prague because of this race. I also took a photo with Mr. Zátopek in 1987," said the enthusiastic runner. "I don't have any big goals now, but I still enjoy running a lot."
The race took place on September 8, symbolically a month after the end of the Olympic Games in Tokyo – the reason for the shift from the June date – the celebration of the establishment of the International Olympic Committee – were COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. We could therefore commemorate the achievements of all our Olympians once again. Some of them were ever personally present at the competition throughout the Czech Republic, such as champion shooter Jiří Lipták, gymnast Aneta Holasová, wrestler Artur Omarov or judoka David Klammert.
"It was really nice. I especially liked the enthusiasm of young children. I was giving the commemorative medals to all the runners at the finishing line with the other Olympians, and the energy radiating from the racers was just amazing, they were really happy,” said joyfully athlete Kristiina Mäki, who reached the final of the 1,500m Olympic race in Tokyo. The ambassadors of this year's races were tennis player Lucie Šafářová, skateboarder Maxim Habanec and wrestler Adéla Hanzlíčková.
T-Mobile has been supporting the Olympic Run in the Czech Republic for seven years. The running distances are usually from 5 to 10 kilometres, so anyone can particpate. Moreover, part of the starting fee of each adult runner goes to the Czech Olympic Foundation, which helps children from disadvantaged families to do sports. The ČEZ Foundation also made a contribution, so a total of 530,000 CZK ($ 25,000) was raised to support children.