Poděbrady Race Walking
WA Race Walking Tour Gold Meeting

3. 4. 2024

​Walking festival in Poděbrady with the world elite

The 92nd edition of the World Athletics Race Walking Tour Gold in Poděbrady will take place this Saturday, 6 April. The local spa colonnade will see the largest ever number of participants in the 20-kilometre race (a record 89 women and 107 men have registered), but above all a number of world walking aces. There will also be a number of top local runners competing for the season's highlights and national championship medals.

Olympic champion against world champion

The women's race, which starts at 12:50, has a great line-up. Antonella Palmisano of Italy, the previously announced Olympic champion from Tokyo and three-time Poděbrady winner, will be joined by Kimberly García León. The 30-year-old Peruvian is the Eugene 2022 World Champion - a double champion, in fact, having dominated the 20km and 35km.

Last year's World Championships in Budapest were less successful for García, but she confirmed her place among the elite by finishing fourth in the 20km and taking silver in the 35km. She will be making her debut in Poděbrady and will be keen to make amends for the illness that forced her to pull out of the Olympic season opener in Dudince in March. Her personal best is almost identical to Palmisano's, 1:26:40 to 1:26:36.

Aces from America and Europe

However, neither of the two has the fastest personal best. Glenda Mojerón of Ecuador holds the record with 1:25:29. The Poděbrady circuit will not be entirely new to the sixth-placed finisher from last year's World Championships, as she finished third in the 2020 "covid" edition (on an unusual October date). Palmisano was the winner, by the way.

There will also be another elite Italian, the experienced Eleonora Anna Giorgi, who used to be a specialist in the 50 (she has a medal from the World Championships), but also has an excellent personal best of 1:26:17. And she has good memories of Podebrady, where she won silver in the 35km at the European Team Championships in 2021, won the 20km classic in 2018 and 2019, and once finished second.

Alegna González also knows what it feels like to stand on the podium in Podebrady. The still relatively young Mexican (born 1999) finished second five years ago with a personal best of just under 1:27 (1:26:59). She didn't finish the year before, but after being fourth at the 2022 World Team Championships in Oman and fifth last year in Budapest, she has a chance to get back on the wave.

Poland's Katarzyna Zdzieblo should also be mentioned. The two-time World vice-champion from Eugene 2022 (20 and 35km) with a personal best of 1:27:31 has competed in Poděbrady twice at the European Team Championships and once as a junior. So far without a significant result, which she will certainly want to change.

In total, there are 15 women with personal bests under one and a half hours. Eliška Martínková is just eight seconds off the mark after her performance in Antalya in January. She will be hoping for the best possible performance at this year's summits. She has already secured a place at the European Championships in Rome, where she would need a time of 1:29:20 to qualify for the Olympics. Unfortunately, the second Czech elite walker, Tereza Ďurdiaková, will miss Poděbrady due to health reasons.

The Poděbrady devoted will add to the top competition

In the men's race (start at 3 p.m.) we have already reported that Perseus Karlström from Sweden (4 medals at the World Championships), Ciao Bonfim from Brazil (2 bronze medals at the World Championships), Evan Dunfee from Canada (bronze medal at the Olympic Games and World Championships) and Francesco Fortunato from Italy (winner of the European Championships in Poděbrady in 2023) will compete. But that's not all.

Christopher Linke is one of the most faithful foreign competitors in Poděbrady. The 35-year-old German raced here for the first time in 2008, has only missed out twice since the 2015 edition and Saturday will be his 11th start. And he doesn't just come for the attendance, he's been on the podium seven times, won the meeting three times, the European Cup in 2017 and last year's silver medal at its successor, the European Championships, albeit on a 35km course. However, he has yet to win a medal at the highest level of international event and added to his collection of fifth places in Budapest last year, despite improving his personal best to 1:18:12.

Ten seconds behind Linke was generational contender Veli-Matti Partanen (PB 1:18:22), who finished sixth at the World Championships. For the 32-year-old Finn, this is clearly the biggest achievement of his career. He used to come to Poděbrady regularly, first as a junior in 2008. He didn't do too well here, being disqualified several times, but last year, after a long break, he finished sixth at the European Championships.

Érick Bernabé Barrondo is also a strong name, although his success dates back twelve years. With a personal best of 1:18:25, the Guatemalan won a sensational silver medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games. A total of 15 runners have broken the 1:20 barrier in the past.

Czech titles and the battle in the race

The domestic men's elite will be complete. Long-distance specialist Vít Hlaváč showed his potential in Dudince, improving to 1:25:50 over 20km, and he hopes to make further progress in Poděbrady. His younger colleagues will try to make it difficult for him to defend his title. Jaromír Morávek's career best is a little better (1:25:33) and Adam Zajíček (OR 1:26:37) is also to be reckoned with.

Traditionally, Czech runners also compete against foreign runners in an international race. This year they will be competing against athletes from Finland, France, Lithuania, Slovakia and Spain. The women will compete against Hungary.

The programme also includes a junior 10 km race, where the most prominent local name will be Ema Klimentova. Last year, she finished fourth at the European Team Championships in Poděbrady.

Accompanying programme

Visitors to Poděbrady will not only be able to watch the top athletes but also take part in the supporting programme. It will take place from 9:30 to 12:50 at the Children's Athletics Centre at the Elishna Spring next to the Congress Centre. Children will be able to throw foam javelin, long jump, run slalom or hurdles. At 10.45 a.m. there will be an autograph session for children in the athletics tent of Vít Hlaváč. The popular mascot Atík the Rabbit will also be present. Children will receive small prizes for completing the events. Thanks to the Leontinka Foundation, it will also be possible to try running without visual control.

Tradition and present

The history of the Poděbrady-related races dates back to the century before last, and they have been held regularly since 1929. The event has maintained its high quality, as evidenced by the trust placed in the organisation of the Cups and the European Team Championships, which will be held here for the third time next year. The sporting level of Poděbrady is also proven by the fact that the meeting and the European Championships traditionally rank among the best in the quality assessment according to the WA methodology.

The organisers of the Poděbrady Race are committed to meeting the "Athletics for a Better World Standard" presented by World Athletics in 2020, and thus to fulfilling the requirements of sustainability in the economic, social and environmental spheres.

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