European athletics stars to compete at Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon. Vrabcová-Nývltová is the hot favourite to win


The sixth Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon has drawn top runners from all over Europe to the spa town. Designed to promote the development of athletics on the Old Continent, the RunCzech initiative EuroHeroes (in cooperation with European Athletics) will get underway in Karlovy Vary. Eva Vrabcová-Nývltová is the hot favourite to win the women’s race.

Where as in previous years African winners have typically secured the top podium spots at the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon (IAAF Gold Label race), this year the organisers are keen to give European and above all Czech athletes a chance to take to the limelight here. “To make European and Czech athletics competitive on an international level, we feel the need to offer these athletes greater space to grow at our races. We hope this step will be a new motivation for the runners and that they run new personal records in Karlovy Vary, ” RunCzech race coordinator Tomáš Mirovský reveals.

Headed by multiple European cross-country running champion Sergej Lebid from Ukraine, a total of six runners all with personal bests under one hour and four minutes will be taking part in the race. Young Spanish talent Houssam Benabbou, who ran a new personal best of 1:03:35 is also expected to deliver a high calibre performance.

Ondřej Fejfar will likely reign supreme among the Czech men appearing in the spa town. “Karlovy Vary is close to my heart. I was here for the first event year back in 2013 and have enjoyed coming back to the city ever since. It’s just a wonderful race and the great fans always spur me on to put on a decent performance,” said the runner who scooped up first place among the Czechs in 2013 and 2014 and finished second in 2016. Other Czech top athletes taking part include Jiří Petr, Tomáš Navrátil, plus locals Jan Sokol and Pavel Procházka

The clear favourite among the women is Eva Vrabcová Nývltová who managed to smash the longstanding Czech half marathon record with her time of 1:11:01 at this year’s Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon. “Competing at the European Championships is the main highlight for me this year, but I’m also really looking forward to running in Karlovy Vary. I want to soak up the atmosphere and give it my best,” revealed Vrabcová, who is expected to launch an assault on the Czech event record of 1:17:31 held by Ivana Sekyrová since 2013.

She’s likely to face high calibre competition however including from Lithuanian Olympian Vaida Zusinaite. The aforementioned local racer Ivana Sekyrová will also be keen to leave her mark as will Petra Kamínková from Olomouc who has claimed victory among the Czech women for the past three years in a row. Medicine student Kristýna Dvořáková and outstanding cyclist Tereza Korvasová are also in great shape and may just have a few surprises up their sleeves.

For the first time this year awards will also be handed out for the fastest man and woman of the Karlovy Vary Region who will pick up regional king and queen trophies respectively.

The Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon kicks off at 17:30 on Saturday 19th May. You can also tune in to the live broadcast on ČT sport, which gets underway at 18:00 or watch it online on

EuroHeroes is a new initiative by RunCzech to celebrate European running stars and promote active lifestyles in Europe. The initiative aims to find new sporting heroes and motivate the public to exercise. “We want to devote our top quality event in Karlovy Vary to discover new heroes and to create local legends that will inspire others to take up sport and lead an active lifestyle,” says Carlo Capalbo, President of the RunCzech Organising Committee and Chairman of the IAAF Road Running Commission.

This new initiative of RunCzech joins the efforts of the European Athletics . “All the RunCzech races are five-star quality road races as awarded by European Athletics’ Running for All platform along with them being IAAF gold label races, for which RunCzech should be very proud. It is very important that European athletes get more opportunities to race at the top level in road races across Europe and EuroHeroes is a fantastic initiative to encourage and promote our road race stars on the continent,” said Svein Arne Hansen, European Athletics President.



LEBID Sergii | UKR | 1:01:49
YUKHYMCHUK Mikyla | UKR | 1:02:28
ROMANENKO Roman | UKR | 1:03:22
OLEFIRENKO Ihor | UKR | 1:03:49
BENABBOU Houssame | ESP | 1:03:45
FEJFAR Ondřej | CZE | 1:07:13
PETR Jiří | CZE | 1:10:09
NAVRÁTIL Tomáš | CZE | 1:10:39


KOTOVSKÁ Olha | UKR | 1:12:19
ZUSINAITE Vaida | LTH | 1:15:51
SPINK Jenny | GBR | 1:13:02
KAMÍNKOVÁ Petra | CZE | 1:15:49
SEKYROVÁ Ivana | CZE | 1:16:21
DVOŘÁKOVÁ Kristýna | CZE | 1:16:55
KORVASOVÁ Tereza | CZE | 1:17:45

Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon Highlights

Celebrated for its spas and famous film festival, Karlovy Vary is also the backdrop to one of the world’s most picturesque half marathons. 21 kilometres and 97.5 metres in length, competitors find the course flies by while also invigorating their runner soul. Far from an ordinary race, Karlovy Vary is a true running gem! 

Key information:

• This is the sixth race event year.
• The Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon will be broadcast live on ČT Sport(from 18:00) and on (from 17:20)
• The Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon is the third event in the RunCzech series which comprises a total of eight races in five cities around the Czech Republic. A record 82 883 runners took part in RunCzech races held last year.
• The race is awarded the IAAF Road Race Gold Label for the third time now. Karlovy Vary is the smallest city in the world to pride itself on such an award given by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) • The race kicks off from Liberation Embankment at 17.30.
• The dm Family Run gets underway from the same location at 16.00.
• Race capacity remains unchanged since last year, amounting to 4 000 competing athletes. An additional two hundred runners will be joining the dm Family Run, however which will host 2 700 participants spanning all ages.
• The half marathon will guide runners through the most beautiful parts of the spa town. The long-distance runners will head off from Liberation Embankment, cross the famous promenades, the St. Mary Magdalene Church and the Grandhotel Pupp.
• The course is undergoing a change this year. Due to reconstruction work underway on Doubský Bridge, there will be no access to the racecourse which means more of the runners’ time will be spent around the city centre.
• The half marathon will be kicked off by Karlovy Vary Deputy City Mayor Čestmír Bruštík, the dm Family Run by governor for the Karlovy Vary region Jana Vildumetzová.
• Runners taking part in the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon will also be able to use the brand new RunCzech mobile app. It contains a race guide, your start number, offers from our partners, live online monitoring of runners on the course and loads more. The app is available on both Android and iOS devices.
Runner pre-registration is one of the most widely anticipated new features. In practice this means that if runner can’t take part in a race, they can transfer their start numbers to someone else.
• Whereas previous event years of the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon have typically been headed by African stars, the organisers this year were keen to give European and, above all, Czech athletes a chance to take to the limelight through the EuroHeroes project. For this reason Karlovy Vary will only be inviting European elite runners to take part this year. The project is organised in cooperation with European Athletics.
• The main stars to feature at this year’s race include Ukrainian runner and two-times Olympian Sergej Lebid and Czech runner Eva Vrabcová-Nývltová
• Having finished as the second best Czech at this year’s Sportisimo Prague Half Marathon, Ondřej Fejfar is the clear favourite to win among the Czech men. When it comes to the women, we can expect to see household names Ivana Sekyrová as well as Petra Kamínková, who has reigned supreme in her category over the past three years.
• In addition to elite runners, as part of the Catch a Star project, the race will also feature relay teams. Participants will include actor/entertainer Dalibor Gondík and his running crew from new Czech film The Smiles of Sad Men. Director Dan Svátek, who has also written a book on Josef Formánek plus actors David Švehlík and Ondřej Malý will also be taking part.
• Karlovy Vary City Mayor, Petr Kulhánek will be taking part this year as an official race pacemaker, guiding runners to finish in 2:00.
• The half marathon weekend will also include the dm Family Run and Marathon Music Festival featuring DJs and bands along the course.
• The top level of medical care in Karlovy Vary this year will include a professional medical rescue service team plus 15 medical points dotted around the course.
Centrum Hájek, z.s is the main charity partner to this year’s Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon.
• The greatest number of foreign runners taking part come from Germany, Slovakia, Poland, Russia, Great Britain, USA, Hungary, France and Israel.
• Set along the Ohře River, the Mattoni FreeRun is a five-kilometre course where everyone can run whenever and wherever. A number of other courses are planned for the Karlovy Vary region in Sokolov, Chodov and Cheb.
• The official race hashtag is #KVHalf
• The organisers will also be giving out awards for the fastest man and woman in the Karlovy Vary region with trophies for the region’s king and queen designed and produced by the AJETO Glassworks.

Interesting stats

• Capacity for the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon is 4 000 runners
• Capacity for the dm Family Run is 2 700 participants
• A total of 47 nationalities will appear at the start line
• 65,20 % of runners are men, 34,80 % are women
• The average age of women taking part in the half marathon is 36.9 years, the average age of men is 40.1 years
• On average women manage to complete the Mattoni Karlovy Vary Half Marathon in 2:07:37, men in 1:52:13
• Jan, Petr and Martin are the most common names of participating men whereas for women these are Jana, followed by Petra and Lucie
• The most common race surnames among men are Novotný (15), Novák (14), Svoboda (11), Marek (11) and Procházka (8). For women these are Nováková (8), Dvořáková (7), Novotná (6), Procházková (5) and Kučerová (5)
• Six men and one woman will celebrate their birthdays on race day
• The vast majority of long-distance runners are educated to university level (58 %), with college-educated individuals making up 34% and the remaining 8 % made up of those with high school education
• The average runner takes 17 216 steps to complete the 21.0975 km course
• The oldest man participant: Karel Červenka (CZE), 76 years
• The oldest woman participant: Susana Blechman (ISR), 70 years
• 660 volunteers will help out on race day
• The most widely represented professions of those taking part in the RunCzech Running League are admin workers (320), managers (302), students (175), teachers (145) and skilled workers (97)
• The least represented professions of those taking part in the RunCzech Running League are brewers (1), couriers (2), librarians and those working in the print industry (2), editors (3) and politicians (4)
• On race day almost fifteen thousand people from all over the world will visit the website (14 578 in 2017)
• Messages from RunCzech channels on social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) will reach over 85 000 users on race day (87 214 in 2017)

Key statistics

Used during the race:

• 408 traffic signs
• 23 540 safety pins
• 45 985 cups
• 22 268 sponges for freshening up
• 3 094 thermal sheets
• 6 500 medals
• 4 482 m of fencing
• 117 portable toilets


• 18 340 l of Mattoni water
• 5 685 litres of Gatorade energy drink


• 1 419 kg of bananas
• 841 kg of oranges
• 18 kg of salt
• 24 kg of sugar


• World record – men: 0:58:23 (2010) Zersenay Tadese (ERI), Lisbon
• World record – women: 1:04:51 (2017) Joyciline Jepkosgei (KEN), Valencia
• Czech record – men: 1:01:31 (1997), Jan Pešava
• Czech record – women: 1:11:01 (2018), Eva Vrabcová-Nývltová
• Race record – men: 1:00:54 (2017),Wilfred Kimitei (KEN)
• Race record – women: 1:08:19 (2017), Yvonne Jelagat (KEN)
• Fastest Czech man: 1:06:51 (2016), Milan Kocourek
• Fastest Czech woman: 1:17:31 (2013), Ivana Sekyrová