Some 10,000 people put on their running shoes for this year’s Prague International Marathon and hundreds of onlookers turned up to cheer them on. The first through the finishing line this year was Nicholas Kemboi from Qatar who covered the 42 km distance in 2:08mins. The first woman to reach the finishing line was Caroline Rotich from Kenya who made it in 2:27mins. The marathon has gained increasing popularity since it was established in 1995. It takes runners through the city centre and has been voted one of the most beautiful in the world. In view of the Boston bombing special security measures have been taken for the event.
A commemorative act at the graveside of Czech composer Bedřich Smetana officially opened the 68th annual Prague Spring Music Festival on Sunday. The prestigious festival traditionally begins with a rendition of Smetana’s cycle of symphonic poems My Country; this year it will be performed by the French Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Over the next three weeks music lovers will be able to take their pick from 45 concerts, presenting leading international orchestras and soloists as well as six opera performances at different venues in the Czech capital.
The results of an opinion poll conducted by the SANEP agency suggest that the majority of Czechs consider the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes a useless institution. According to the poll results 68.7 percent of respondents said the institute was obsolete and 73.3 percent said they did not believe it to be entirely independent and objective in its research. Only 25 percent of respondents said they believed it was fulfilling its mission and 26 percent of respondents said that the institution had been hijacked by politicians for their own ends. The poll was conducted at the beginning of the month as the institute was undergoing a change of management and was racked by controversy.
One of the country’s last surviving war heroes, Brigadier General Zdeněk Škarvada, has died at the age of 95. General Škarvada served in the air force of the First Republic. After the occupation of Czechoslovakia he left for Poland where he participated in the country’s defence before going on to Great Britain where he joined the RAF. He flew night missions and when his plane suffered technical failure he was captured by the Germans. He was held in several European POW camps and eventually survived a 1000 km long death march. After the communist coup he was demoted and forced to work in the mines. In 1965 he was partially rehabilitated. He has been awarded a number of decorations for valour.
Rescuers in the Šumava Mountains saved the life of a 26-year-old man who was abandoned, heavily drunk, in marshland by his friends. When he failed to return to base on Saturday evening they alerted the mountain rescue service which combed the famed Slatiny marshes. When they found the man he was waist deep in mud, disoriented and suffering from hypothermia. The head of the rescue team said he had had a lucky escape since after several days of heavy rain the area was particularly dangerous.
Restrictions are in now place along selected stretches of the D1 highway from Prague to Brno. Following several days of persistent rain, repair work started in earnest on Sunday with traffic restricted to one lane in places. Despite the onset of repair work traffic is reported to have problem-free throughout the day. The country’s main highway will remain open to traffic throughout its reconstruction due to concerns that de-tours would immeasurably burden surrounding towns and villages. The speed limit along the stretches where work is underway has been lowered to 80 km per hour.
The Czech national team lost 2:1 to Canada at the World Ice Hockey Championship in Stockholm on Sunday, seriously jeopardizing its chances of advancing to the quarterfinals. The Czech team, which had been struggling since the beginning of the tournament, put up a valiant fight against their strong opponent with Petr Koukal equalizing an opening goal by Canada’s Wayne Simmonds in the first period. Although the Czechs managed to maintain the score through the second period a goal from Jeff Skinner close to the end of the third period dashed their hopes of victory. The loss means that for the first time in the country’s modern history the Czechs might not advance to the quarterfinals.
Marek Židlický will join the Czech national team for the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Stockholm on Monday. After announcing the arrival of Montreal Canadiens forward Tomáš Plekanec on the same day, the Czech national team will use their last spot on the roster for New Jersey Devils defenceman Marek Židlický. Both Plekanec and Židlický are to play in the last preliminary-round game against Norway on Tuesday.
Close to two hundred people attended a commemorative ceremony for the victims of communism at Prague’s Motol crematorium on Saturday. The event, organized by the Confederation of Political Prisoners, was attended by leading top officials, former dissidents and families of the deceased. Speaking near a mass grave where the communists buried those whom they executed, tortured to death or shot at the country’s borders, the speaker of the lower house of Parliament, Miroslava Nemcová, said the past must never be forgotten and warned against efforts to belittle the crimes of the communist regime.
An ultra light plane carrying two people crashed into a training facility near Vrchlabi Airport, eastern Bohemia, shortly after mid-day on Saturday. The pilot and passenger, both German nationals, suffered serious injuries and were airlifted to hospital in Hradec Kralove. The training facility used by the airport was empty at the time of the accident and no other injuries have been reported.