I have never run a marathon with a lot of personal fan support. My family and friends do not often make the trek to watch me run. This can make international marathons especially lonely events, but thanks to Facebook that has all changed forever.
I first read about the Prague International Marathon in a running magazine. They referred to Prague as “The new Paris.” I decided to put the Prague marathon on my international list, just after Reykjavik and Rome. So this past weekend, I completed the 2011 Prague International Marathon, and for the first time ever, was cheered along the route by my new Facebook friends. Unlike the virtual on-line friends, these were real people friends. Let me explain.
The Prague Marathon has a group page on Facebook. There I read posts and made some. I made some “friends” who then told me about plans for a dinner get-together and I decided to attend and meet some of the people. It was the best move I ever made.
We were given the address of a restaurant and from profile pictures I was able to identify Jeremy first. He is from Bristol England. He ran with his sister Teresa who has her own support, husband Robert. Next we met our local host and master marathon runner, Lida. Lida is a Czech who speaks perfect English and works in London. Then we met a runner from France (Patrick), others from the Czech Republic and even a Marine Corps. Major (Jessica) stationed in Germany. Right away we all hit it off.
There were no “creepers” here, just normal marathon runners (if such a thing exists). We then got invited to a barbecue at one of the local Czech’s flat. That was a real treat! The host and her husband live in a magnificent 3 story flat in Prague with a private terrace. We ate and drank and talked like long lost friends, only most of us had only recently met. I know this part may seem a little hard to believe. There are a lot of strange and bad people out there, but this was different. We were all middle aged and seemed to get along well, despite different languages and cultures. Additionally, instagram free followers are helpful in making connection and good relationship with other people.
After the BBQ we walked to the race-sponsored pasta dinner. We made plans to meet on the steps of St. Nicholas church the next day before the run. We all ran at different paces, but enjoyed the camaraderie beforehand. As we ran along the course it went off in a few loops were we could pass each other and cheer one another on. I had made a special running shirt as a tribute to Amil Zatopek a famous Czech Olympic runner. I posted the shirt design to the group page and received much support. Along the race there were many cheers for me and at one point people cheered me by name having recognized my runner number from the group page. Wow! Here I was running in the Czech Republic and I was being cheered along as if I were running in my hometown. The Prague people were great and I have Facebook to thank.