Running to beat the heat, Andrew Rudenko and Matt Saks are off to the races, completing their second Half Marathon in Prague.

The Prague Half Marathon follows a course that allows athletes to run through the confines of some of the most scenic parts of Prague. Hearing the music and seeing crowds of people cheering creates a feeling that codifies the belief in a runner’s ability to finish such a physically and mentally draining task. 

“It was super inspiring to see such a busy city come to a halt to support the runners,” said Vanessa Minarik, an AAU student in the crowd.

Like life, running has unforeseen stressors, such as mental pressure, physical state, and environmental conditions that predicate the logistics of one’s performance. Even the most seasoned runner can fall to the whims of the unknown.

“After a strong performance in Barcelona, my goal was to only get stronger for the race in Prague. But, out of nowhere, the temperature skyrocketed… where the goal of the race was not solely to PR, but to finish without passing out,” said Saks. 

Amidst the race, the temperature rose 5 degrees Celsius. By mile 8, Saks and Rudenko saw runners dropping like flies because of heat stroke. 

Photo by: Tyler Roderick

“Before the race, the question isn’t about whether I’ll be able to finish. The real question was, will I start? Because once you start, you keep going till the end,” said Rudenko. 

For Rudenko, the weather wasn’t the sole challenge. Following an ankle injury, each step of the race was approached with caution, mindful of the risk of further injury.

“I feel really proud of their achievements and the team we have become…[This is] only our second race together. I believe we can manage so much more.” These were the final remarks of Saks and Rudenko reflecting on their marathon journey as this is the second they have participated in together..

Saks crossed the finish line 2:10 hours and Rudenko at 2:30 hours. The Prague half was not just a PR race, but a race of willpower.