Prague. Beautiful city, from all I heard, only too close to Austria. So, I never visited. The Prague Marathon made for a good reason to finally remedy that. And to see the town in a different way from the usual tourist paths.
From Vienna, one just has to take one of many regular trains servicing the route to Prague.
Getting from Vienna to Prague
Both the Austrian railways ÖBB go there (and on to Germany) and the private Czech transport/tourism company Regiojet does so, as well.
Regiojet is typically cheaper and has different levels of service which are rather nice; the Business seat here also includes coffee and some cookies and water and juice… and is plenty comfortable.
Getting Around Prague
Prague turned out pretty easy to walk nearly everywhere.
For getting to the Průmyslový palác at Výstaviště Holešovice where the marathon fair – which was pretty big! – took place, it was good to take the tram from a road just out the railway station, through the park in front of it, and down a block.
(And the ticket vending machine in the railway station was easy enough to use. In front of the ticket vending window was a long line instead…)
The way back, though, we (I met up with a few friends from Suunto) just walked. There was a bit of a rain, but it wasn’t too bad.
Overtourism feels like it is getting to be a thing in Prague. In the small paths of the old town center, people get packed in pretty tightly.
It was still nice to look around, though – and taking roads just a little off from those paths everyone was taking, there were comparatively few people.
It made me philosophize a bit about the whole issue of (over)tourism and social media sharing…
Being in pre-marathon mode, my friends and I just went for an afternoon meal. Funny thing; I tried a goulash with bread dumpling which fits the “Austrian” central European cuisine – and it (at least the dumpling) was quite different from any of those which are made in Austria. (And I thought Austria had adopted those from Bohemia’s kitchen.)
Then, I just strolled through town a bit, to my hostel near the railway station, prepared everything for the next day’s marathon, and settled down for the night.
Getting to the Prague Marathon Start
From the place I stayed, it was more than easy to just walk down to Wenceslas Square which was the staging area for the marathon. Changing tents, safekeeping of one’s things, toilets and showers for later were all there.
Finding the starter block proved a bit more of a challenge. Those snake through the old town, and with the thousands of people there to participate and to spectate, with all that gets cordoned off, it was not easy to find one’s way.
I actually ended up on the path past my starting block, opposite the entrance to it, so just had to swing myself over the barrier.
“Time and Tours” Concerns
And then it was time, in conditions that felt quite close to freezing, to wait for the start.
Thus, to try and give the sports watches I wanted to try out in that event (for posts on “Time and Tours“) a chance to capture a GPS fix and my heart rate.
Optical heart rate in such cold: not easy.
GPS fixes with a very limited view to the sky, hemmed in by buildings on both sides as we were, on that small road: also not easy.
The whole marathon course was cool for trying out sports watch, especially GPS, performance, though. With some open spaces and various tight ones, with a tunnel and some underpasses, it has quite variable conditions.
More importantly, the Prague Marathon course is nice to run.
Prague Marathon Impressions
There are quite a few sections which just go out and back in a way that often gets psychologically hard on a runner.
Seeing all the people who are already on their way back while you still have to get out to you-can’t-yet-see-where to just turn around there – that’s often not easy.
It worked quite well here, though, I found.
There are also quite a few sections which are covered twice during the run, especially the loop from the start/finish northwards.
With all the bridges one crosses in the course of the whole marathon, the river often crossed, often off to one’s side, the views to the castle and of the fancy old architecture in older parts of town, the wide roads, newfangled architecture… and somewhat Communist-modernist housing blocks… outside of the center, there is a nice diversity.
The marathon also attracts a very nicely diverse range of people from all over the world – and I must say, I really appreciate how the Prague Marathon is marketing itself not with a reference to speed, nor even the beauty of the city, but with its “All Runners Are Beautiful!”
There’s a good thought!