The EuroHeroes Challenge draws to a close this weekend at the ninth edition of the Mattoni Usti nad Labem Half Marathon where Moldova’s Lilia Fisikovici will aim to make it four wins from the four half marathons which comprise the series.

Fisikovici was in dominant form during the early part of the summer campaign, winning the first race of this year’s EuroHeroes Challenge in Karlovy Vary in a season’s best of 72:34 less than one month after setting a national record of 2:27:26 in the London Marathon.

The 30-year-old successfully defended her title in Ceske Budejovice a fortnight later in 73:29 before defying the hot and humid conditions on offer in Olomouc in the middle of June, winning in 73:32 after a conservative start.

The EuroHeroes Challenge came into being last year but has since expanded this year to incorporate four of the nine races in the RunCzech series, all of which have a five-star certification from European Athletics Running for All. This guarantees participants that the organisers have met a stringent set of safety and quality checks.

The EuroHeroes Challenge which is supported by European Athletics is designed first and foremost to put the spotlight on local and continental elite distance runners as well as promoting healthy lifestyles. 

Fisikovici begins as the favourite based not only on current form but also past form. She ran her national record of 70:45 in last year’s race and that performance makes her the fastest on paper in the elite women’s race ahead of Poland’s Izabela Trzaskalska (71:33), Great Britain’s Jessica Piasecki (71:36) and Ukraine’s Daria Mykhailova (71:50).

There will be a new winner in the men’s race with Italy’s Yassine Rachik, the winner in Karlovy Vary, Ceske Budejovice and Olomouc, not competing in order to focus on the IAAF World Championships.

With Rachik absent, this should open the door to Poles Marcin Chabowski and Arkadiusz Gardzielewski, who have PBs of 62:24 and 63:17 respectively, as well as Spain’s Jaume Beato (62:29) and Rachik’s teammate Ahmed El Mazoury (62:39). RunCzech familiar Roman Romanenko from Ukraine (63:22) also competes.

The Usti nad Labem Half Marathon also features the popular Family Run which begins at 1.30pm and can accommodate 3400 participants. 

The half marathon capacity is capped at 3700 runners and there will be 35 nationalities represented in this year’s race with particularly highest overseas representation from neighbouring Slovakia, Germany and Poland as well as large contingents from Great Britain, Russia, Ukraine, the United States, France, Mexico and Bulgaria.

The event will also be broadcast live on from 2.50pm local time.

The European Athletics Quality Road Race standards act as an assurance for road runners throughout Europe. They distinguish between races that respect the standards and those that haven’t sought certification or assessment. They form the foundation of Running for All, a strong recognisable brand for running activities throughout Europe.

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