Hello from Africa! Just kidding. Hello from somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean on what is a 30+ hour string of flights on the way to Africa. That’s right – I left on Wednesday night and will get there Friday morning. Kill me. Make sure you are following me on Instagram, where I’ll be posting photos and stories as often as Wi-Fi allows me to!
When I got the opportunity to head to the Czech Republic for the Prague Marathon, I was beyond excited. There are few places in the world that I’ve heard unanimously positive reviews about; I’ve never met a person who has been to Prague that did not love it. In fact, I know a lot of people who count Prague as their favorite city! As excited as I was to explore, I was also a little nervous. I had pretty high expectations for the city. What if it didn’t live up to them?
Bobbi and I arrived at the airport after traveling overnight. We felt pretty good when we landed in Amsterdam, but by the time we finished our connecting flight to Prague, we were worn out. Normally, I suck it up and rally since I fully believe that I should make the most of every second I have when I’m traveling. As you can tell – people obviously love traveling with me and have never once gotten annoyed with me when I force them out the door after 24+ hours of travel. In this particular case, Bobbi and I were both wiped out, so we opted to nap for a few hours before heading off to explore.
We really didn’t have much of an idea where we were going besides to the Old Town! We had heard that the Prague Castle was not to be missed, but other than that, we just wanted to wander around and see what we could find.
What we found was the best city ever.
Walking along the river in Prague is a gorgeous way to spend the day! There are separate bike and pedestrian lanes, and you can walk for miles. We headed up the river a ways before crossing over one of the many bridges and walking over to the Prague Castle!
First order of business? FOOD! This is an entire potato on a stick. And it was amazing. Shirt from KUHL
The Prague Castle is actually a huge complex that dates back to the 9th century! It is the largest ancient castle in the world, and it is a pretty cool way to get a feel for what life was like in the medieval days. There is a massive cathedral, smaller churches, the castle structure itself, and an old medieval street where shopkeepers worked centuries ago. The street is called the Golden Road and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Prague. Luckily, since we got there so late in the afternoon (by the time we made it there, it was about 6 pm), it was completely empty! Hello, photos.
THIS IS A REAL PLACE.
The castle also offers some incredible views of the city itself. You really get a sense of how beautiful the entire city of Prague is, and you can see that the Old Town isn’t just a fluke!
Perfection as far as the eye can see
I’m not always one for just “wandering around” a city and seeing what I find. While I do understand the value in that, I think I have a personality type where I don’t always get the most out of the experience that way. However, that’s exactly what Bobbi and I did in Prague, and it was perfect! This is very much a city where you can find something beautiful hidden just around every corner, and while a city tour would be a great way to learn more history, there is SO much to see outside of the main sites.
Wandering around and we found a lock bridge!
We ended up walking almost 10 miles on Thursday just seeing what there was to see – and we had barely even set foot in the traditional Old Town section!
Not gonna lie – we definitely slept in a bit on Friday! Like I said, we were really just completely knocked out by this trip for some reason. We got up in plenty of time to make it to the elite athlete press conference, where members of the press team were on hand to hear from the athletes who had come from across the world to compete in the Prague Marathon. It was amazing hearing their stories – some have full time jobs while winning marathons across the world! Every single one of them talked about wanting to run a PR the following day and said that a PR is always their goal. Bobbi and I marveled at that because it is so much pressure to go out and expect every race to be a PR! I guess that’s why they are elite and we’re not, though.
During the press conference, the elite runner from Japan caught my attention. Yuki’s manager translated all his answers for him, but even without the translation, it was very clear what he was saying when he talked about running. The joy he has for the sport and the marathon specifically just absolutely overflowed when he spoke, and Bobbi and I instantly adored him. I was determined to interview him, and I was able to ask him a few questions about his life back in Japan. He works full time at a high school and is a 2:08 marathoner – one of the fastest in the world! He is so humble and kind and, as I found out, he has never been to see the snow monkeys in Japan. He said that was his favorite question he has ever been asked, by the way – no big deal.
Me and my new BFF Yuki
Yuki’s goal for the marathon was to PR (of course) and run under 2:08, hopefully contending for the lead. Unfortunately, he tripped on the cobblestone in the last few miles of the race and got banged up pretty bad. He ended up finishing in 6th place in 2:10. We still love him though!
After we finished the press conference and grabbed lunch, it was time to explore more of the city. We first decided to head to the race expo, which was located about a mile and a half from our hotel. It give us an opportunity to see a different part of the city (aka the non-historic part, which is still really historic).
Interesting fact: the Prague Marathon puts “F” on the bibs of all female runners.
The expo is a great size. It’s not so huge as to be unmanageable, but there are plenty of booths and lots of options if you need to pick up anything for race day. The packet, t-shirt, and jacket pickup is really organized, and you can also sign up for the minimarathon or the Walk with Dogs on site. After hitting up the expo and collecting our gear, we decided to explore the city some more! There was still so much left to see.
The main square in Old Town!
We wanted to find the location of the start and finish lines, so we headed straight to the heart of the Old Town to visit the main square. One of the things I absolutely love about Prague (in addition to the extremely cheap wine) is the fact that the buildings are colorful and all so different! The main square is the perfect place to see examples of many different types of architecture and a 14th century Gothic church. Also, the world’s oldest operational astronomical clock is there!
One of my favorite buildings in the Old Town Square.
There are tons of tiny streets off the Old Town Square that provide a fantastic place to wander around and explore! While the Old Town Square is definitely tourist central, the side streets are less busy and give a sense of the real feel of the city.
Hanging out on the little streets in Prague. Jacket and pants from KUHL
Although I could have stayed out there walking around forever (and we kind of did – another 10 mile day!), Bobbi and I had a fun activity with the press team that evening, so we needed to head back to the hotel first.
Ok, one more picture first. Alright, that’s it. I’m going to #Prague. @thetrexrunner has convinced me, and she’ll convince you too! Click To Tweet
That night, the entire press team and special guests of the marathon were invited to the home of the Mayor of Prague for a reception. It was a pretty cool event, and I was able to meet with journalists from all over the world! There were representatives from many different marathons across the globe, too, including China, Ukraine, Morocco, Spain, and more! My head was spinning by the time I left because there were so many more races I now want to do!
Photo courtesy of my dear friend Anders Forselius! Anders, Bobbi, RunCzech elite athlete coordinator Evgeniia, me, and Jen from Marathon Tours and Travel
After spending so much time on our feet Thursday and Friday, Bobbi and I didn’t want to overdo it before the marathon on Sunday. We were scheduled to participate in the minimarathon (5k) race later in the afternoon, but we wanted to make sure we got to see the Walk with Dogs as well! We initially had planned on doing the walk also, but when we found out it was a 5k (in addition to the 5k we would later run), we thought that might be a bit much. I honestly am glad we watched it, because it was equally entertaining!
People and dogs of all shapes and sizes took off in the Walk with Dogs! Some walked, some ran, all had a great time.
Bobbi and I had come fully prepared with our best patriotic apparel in preparation for the 5k run. After doing a similar event in Tokyo before the Tokyo Marathon where everyone wore their country’s colors, I thought this would be similar. Not so much! Most people wore the race shirt. We didn’t, but we got lots of cheers and smiles at our outfits.
Hats courtesy of Headsweats! Smiles courtesy of Prague.
After the 5k, we collected our medals (which are so cute and had a little lion on them!) and stuck around for a few minutes to cheer people in. Then, it was time to rest up for the Prague Marathon on Sunday! But you already know how that turned out 🙂
Overall, our experience in Prague was absolutely amazing! There have definitely been trips where I have “done more” in terms of tours and sightseeing, but I thoroughly enjoyed every second of this experience and the way we approached the entire trip. I can’t thank the RunCzech organization enough for a fantastic weekend!