RunCzech has announced plans for an event named Battle of the Teams, a competition that will bring 32 of the world’s best runners together to race on teams in this year’s elite-only Prague Marathon. Four teams of eight runners (four men and four women) will line up in Prague to compete in this game-changing race, which will take the marathon from its usual wholly individual run to a team event. The Battle of the Teams is set for May 30, and its unique format will make it a must-see race.
As noted on the Battle of the Teams website, the crew at RunCzech asked the question “What if we could present [the marathon] as a team sport?” In this case, “the drama doesn’t end when the first runner crosses the finish line. In fact, it’s just getting started.” Like a cross-country race, this team format forces athletes to push until the very end, no matter how poorly they may be running, because every second counts for their team.
While there will be eight runners per team, only six will register scores. Two runners will race as backups, and if any of their teammates have to drop out, they will move into scoring position. Athletes earn points based on their finishing times, and the team with the highest cumulative score takes the win. In addition to one’s general time earning points, if a runner drops a PB, he or she will earn a 10 per cent bonus in points for their team.
Since this is a RunCzech event, every team will feature an athlete from the Czech Republic. The rest of the runners will be international athletes. The makeup of each team will be determined in a “draft” that takes into account each runner’s PB from the past four years. They will then be divided into the four teams to make the field as evenly distributed as possible.
A new twist on an ancient sport, months in the making, is starting to get the spotlight from today – Battle of the Teams.
On May 30, Prague, Czech Republic, in the heart of Europe, will celebrate marathon as a competitive sport, once again!
Be with us, this is going to be big! pic.twitter.com/vc2Chj47nK
— RunCzech (@RunCzech) April 14, 2021
RunCzech has a few plans to get people excited for this race. Firstly, each team will be assigned a “captain,” although this person will not be running. Instead, these captains will be other Czech Republican athletes, such as soccer, tennis and hockey stars, each of whom will promote their teams and hopefully attract attention from the Czech public.
Captains will represent their teams at the draft, which will be televised, much like the NBA or NHL drafts are. This will be another chance for organizers to hype up the event before race day. Finally, each team will have a corporate sponsor, and runners will wear uniforms for the race.
Alongside the Battle of the Teams race, the race will host the Czech national marathon championships. In this race, about 80 athletes will compete, many of whom will use the opportunity to try to run under Olympic standard and qualify for the Tokyo Games. Other than those extra 80 runners, though, race organizers won’t accept any additional entries.
For runners who want to be part of the RunCzech event, there will be a virtual race that will last most of May. The Volkswagen Prague Virtual Marathon will run from May 3 to 31, and 10 per cent of all registration fees will be donated to charities that the four Battle of the Teams squads will choose to support. In addition to this chunk of registration fees, the corporate sponsors involved in the Battle of the Teams will match this donation, doubling the total raised for charity.
The Battle of the Teams has the potential to be one of the most interesting races of 2021, and it will be a can’t-miss event. To follow along in the build-up to the May 30 race, click here.