The New Prague Half Marathon – Where It All Began

Run New Prague

A lot of people ask me why I started running. Then they ask me why I run marathons. The funny thing is, the answers are completely different. One doesn’t in any way relate to the other. I started running to drop those few dreaded pounds that I just couldn’t shake after a year of Beachbody workouts. It was more of a decision to fix something that was broken. I wanted to repair my health and well being and get myself to a place where I knew I was doing all I could for the benefit of my husband and children. I wanted to be here for them, both in the physical sense and in the healthy physical sense. What good is a wife and mother who is always miserable because she can’t function because of her lifestyle choices? Besides, being run down all the time and on anti-anxiety medication wasn’t fun for me, either.

Now, why did I start running marathons? That question goes way beyond the health and wellness reasons and ends up somewhere around “this would be a real challenge therefore wouldn’t be amazing if I could?”

I spent my first year running smaller races; 5Ks, 4 milers, and a 10K or two. In fact, after running those 10Ks, one of which was a wicked trail run, I had a conversation with a running friend who suggested I try a marathon. At the time, that seemed so drastic and I couldn’t imagine even toeing the line for that type of distance. But, it peaked my interest enough to send me home researching longer runs…longer than 10Ks, anyway.

That is when the magical “half marathon” appeared on the horizon. 13 miles? That seemed doable. And since this conversation happened in the fall in Minnesota, I knew it could be as early as next spring when I could jump into such a challenge.

At the time, my husband was still not a fan of my running and my participation in events, especially if it meant he had to tow the line on the home front. Saturdays were busy days for my twin daughters, and he had other things to do besides chauffeur them to horse lessons, friends homes, and the like. Picking a local event would be crucial. Then, of course, I’d have to break the news to him gently. It wasn’t going to be just a half hour 5K event, but it would be over an hour, maybe two, of just running alone, let alone the time it took to get to the race and back home.

Run New Prague

Run New Prague

In my search of Minnesota Half Marathons, I stumbled across the New Prague Half Marathon. New Prague is just a 20 minute ride from our home, which is in the sticks…so it is even further into the sticks. I wouldn’t have to drive into the Twin Cities for this event. This could work in my favor. It also happened to land on the day before Mother’s Day. This could also be favorable because I could label it as “all I want for Mother’s Day is…” and possibly get away with it.

But the main thing, was that I knew New Prague. We ventured there (and still do) every Wednesday night for dinner in the fall and winter as that is when our daughters have religious education. They go to class, and we get a date night. It is a small, close knit community of about 8000 or so. And it is named after Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, and the city and surrounding area reflect the Czech origins of many of their first settlers. This, by the way, happens to be my heritage as well.

As for the half marathon run, it begins at the local community park, circles out to the outskirts of town, then back to the park. After studying the course and route, it looked doable to me and appeared to be a great choice for my very first attempt at that distance.

Upon mentioning the run to my sister, who just began running herself, it was suggested that she and my other sister come to Minnesota to witness the historic event…and to give me support, since we weren’t sure how the hubster would handle it. It sounded like a great plan. Not only would I get to run my first half marathon, but I’d have my sisters there to see me cross the finish line! (In the end, my husband did tag along…and he enjoyed it so much, that he now accompanies me to runs whenever he can. Of course, he especially likes it when I run exceedingly well.)

New Prague Half Marathon 2012

I can tell you that New Prague puts on a hell of a half marathon event. The first year I ran in 2012, there was the half marathon and the 5K event, plus a kids fun run, and a kids mile event. It was reasonably priced, in fact, about half that of the races in the cities. There was plenty of activity on and before race day, an amazing amount of food afterwards, and polka music to boot! The entire shebang was very well organized for a small town event. But, it draws some of the best runners from all over the state. I can only imagine it is because of the route and the time of year that it occurs. It descends out of the city into the countryside and the ascends back to the center of town. The hills are gradual but challenging, and there are pacers! It isn’t for the weak of heart, for certain, but it is perfect for the runner looking to challenge their half marathon PR…and perhaps even get it! And, it is exactly 6 weeks before Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth. So I believe it is used by many as a training race.

As far as the weather goes, anything can happen in May in Minnesota. The first year I ran, it was in the 50s so deciding what to wear wasn’t that dreadful. The following year it was in the 30s…with snow showers. But regardless, either work for this runner.

As it turns out, my first attempt at the half marathon distance was obviously a PR. But it took me two years to break that PR. I ran it well. I was well trained for it, I had fans at the finish line…and they met me at three seperate occasions during the run. That was special! And it was easy for them to do, because you could easily transverse through the middle part of the square race route.

New Prague Half Marathon Route

New Prague Half Marathon Route

I also ended up second in my age group, but I didn’t realize this until early afternoon. I didn’t hang around for a medal because I didn’t realize they even handed out medals at these events! I was kind of bummed afterwards. My sisters suggested we drive back for it, but at the time that seemed so gauche to me. In retrospect, I wish I had!

2012 New Prague Half Marathon Results

2012 New Prague Half Marathon Results

For me, the thrill was in running the race, and finishing it with a time I didn’t expect. Plus, my sisters and my husband were there to cheer me on! I even scrapbooked the event!

My Scrapbook Page

My Scrapbook Page

This opened the flood gates, so to speak. After this, I got a taste of blood. Maybe I could run a marathon, after all. It can’t be that much harder, can it?

There was no question I would sign up for this run again the following year. And as I did so, I pushed the button (or the enter key) on Grandma’s Marathon six-weeks later. I was ready to do it again, and go for more.

New Prague Half Marathon 2013

My sisters did not come to Minnesota the following year, at least not for this event. But my husband did tag along. And it was colder than the previous year. We were both pretty chilled to the bone. I learned this year that my husband makes a great coat rack and all around baggage handler. That comes in handy! I stripped a layer off at the start line and was able to hand it to him.

He also got VIDEO of me as I was running. This just cracked me up.

The cold played a part in my performance and I didn’t PR this time, but I did come pretty darn close. And I managed a 1st place in my age group. This year, I hung around for the medal!

Me and my medal!

New Prague Half Marathon – May 2013

I also took the time to analyze the results of the New Prague Half Marathon this year. I mean really analyze. What I found, was that despite the darn good run I had, I still finished middle of the pack. This means that there are quite the impressive runners at this event. And it clearly is not as easy as it looks.

2013 New Prague Half Marathon Results

2013 New Prague Half Marathon Results

I vowed to avenge my 2013 time in 2014, but the stress fracture from Boston meant a DNS for me. This year, however, will be different!

If you are a Minnesota resident, or even if you live in a neighboring state, and you are looking for a great run, in a great city, with great people, and without all the hassles of a huge inner city run, then I highly recommend the New Prague Half Marathon. Now, they offer a 10K event as well. There is an event for every member of the family!

You can register here for the event. Registration is now open! The date this year is Saturday, May 9. Expect a great day of running, eating, shopping and having fun!  It will be the 30th Annual New Prague Half Marathon, so I expect a great time.

Plan to stay for the day after the run and enjoy all of New Prague’s restaurants, bars, boutiques and shops.

Packet Pick-Up

Packet pick-up will take place on Friday, May 8 at the New Prague Golf Club (400 Lexington Ave South) from 2:00 – 7:00 PM.  Packet pick-up resumes in Memorial Park on Saturday, May 9 at 6:00 AM. From experience I can tell you that packet pick-up the morning of the race is painless.

Race Times

30th Annual Half Marathon – 8:00 AM

10K – 8:15 AM (Starting line on 10th Ave SE)

5K – 8:30 AM (Starting line near the Community Pool)

Kids Fun Run – 9:45 AM – race will start in waves by age groups

Run New Prague 2015

Run New Prague 2015

So, RUN NEW PRAGUE! You’ll be so glad you did!

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