Pavel Caha from the MU Faculty of Arts ran an average of 28 kilometres every day between early May and early June. He won the prize for the best MU employee and was the clear overall winner of the five-week running race. And the best part of it? As he admits, he did not even have to try too hard.
“I run every day to and from work; that’s just over 15 kilometres there and back. On top of that, I ran with my daughter’s pram every day in March and April to take her to a kindergarten in another neighbourhood as ours was closed due to covid. This made for a longer trip so I would regularly run around 25 kilometres a day before the competition even started. All it took then was to add two more longish runs over the weekend and suddenly I was able to compete for first place,” says Caha about his journey to the top and adds that it was one of his colleagues who prompted him to join the race.
Pavel Caha teaches Czech at the Faculty of Arts and is part of the research group at the Department of Czech Language. He says his victory in the race confirms that running is a mental rather than a physical sport: “I used to play competitive basketball, but I quit when I went to university when I was twenty. I did not really regularly exercise as a student, and I gained quite a lot of weight towards the end of my PhD programme. I decided to start running to work and it became a habit,” he says.
He thinks the race should be organised again because, as he explains, “The closed schools and zero after-school activities have really affected my two older children, who are eleven and twelve. They don’t really want to do anything but sit at the computer. So if the competition inspired some of the students to go running, it fulfilled its purpose. My favourite part of the race was running the ‘Brněnské (půl)vokruch’ loop trail around Brno and I can heartily recommend this route to anyone.”
The virtual running race was organised by the MU University Sport Centre and attracted more interest than its creators expected. MU was represented by 589 students and 93 employees who collectively ran or walked 52,568 kilometres. While Pavel Caha was first from the male employees, Iva Šťastná from the Faculty of Education won the women’s race with 570 kilometres.
From the students, Roman Stix from the MU Faculty of Science won the male category with 756 kilometres and Hana Homolková from the Faculty of Sports Studies topped the female category with 514 kilometres. Every run or walk was tracked in the Strava app, which allowed the organisers to award two special prizes: Vojtěch Grün from the Faculty of Sports Studies racked up the most elevation gain and Anna Cardová from the Faculty of Medicine submitted the most “visually appealing” run route in the shape of a baby elephant.
Milan Šipl from the University Sport Centre gives an overview of the participants’ activity on Strava: “There were 123 people who registered in the race and the Strava group but did not log any runs or hikes. They were excluded from the final results, but we are happy to see that many of them created their Strava account for this purpose and although they could not participate now, perhaps it will prompt them to become active at a more opportune time. Many participants were obviously more active during the race, which is great.”
The competition with BUT compared the results of the best 100 runners from both universities over the five weeks of the race: the top one hundred MU runners amassed 27,743 kilometres while BUT finished the race with 21,399.
“BUT was a challenging opponent: our best students were defeated but we won in the employee category and had the best overall score. It was a worthy competition, and we look forward to organising a return race,” promises Šipl.
A complete overview of the results and prizes awarded in the virtual race is available on the Facebook page of the University Sports Centre.