The daughter of a Czech mother and a Scottish father has been successful on the track and road, because of the prospect of starting at the Tokyo Olympics, she hastened the transition to the marathon with coach Václav Janousek. The first at the airport in Belp, Switzerland with a time under 2:30 indicated her great potential, with the second in Prague in 2:29:28 she even met the limit for the Tokyo Games.
But uniquely and bitterly, like the fourth Czech, she stayed at home instead of going to Japan. She took some time from the disappointment, she was slowed down by an injury, and in the next three marathons she did not come close to the Belp times.
With a view to attacking Olympic Paris, she looked at Valencia. A beautiful city, promised to marathoners. However, the December date with ideal climatic conditions and the flat track profile attracted the world‘s best endurance athletes, including the later Ethiopian winner Sisaye Lemma and the legendary Kenenisa Bekele. And twelve national records were broken in the women’s race alone.
The Valencia mission did not get off to an ideal start for Stewart. Delayed flights complicated travel and took away sleep. On Sunday morning, however, the 28-year-old runner stood up excited for the start and cut the 42,195 meters exactly as planned, maybe even faster.
“Great conditions and drivers, I ran well. Machine pace,” she recounted. She crossed the half marathon in 1:13, which purely mathematically gave great hope for the Olympic limit of 2:26:50 and perhaps even the Czech record of 2:26:31.
It was run by Eva Vrabcová Nývltová at the European Championships in Berlin five years ago, when she won the European bronze. Since then, the marathon world has accelerated even more thanks to new running shoe technologies.
However, Stewart also wore the new Fast-R 2 model from Puma. And she really was quick in him – even more so than she expected. Based on the intermediate times, she suspected that her performance would be of high quality, but when she saw in the finish line that she would break the 2:26 mark…
“I had no idea, even now I want to cry,” admitted the Czech record holder in the three longest distances usually run: 10,000 meters, half marathon and marathon.
True, writing about how she enjoyed the final meters of the race would not be entirely accurate. “The last ten kilometers were a walk through hell, but that’s what a marathon is about. And I threw up the final 200 meters. When I was crossing the finish line, the biggest saber I could find in me flew out, maybe there won’t be any photos of it,” she hoped.
After all, she saw the only bigger reserves in refreshments during the race. “But that’s more the problem of the organizers, I was saved by two gels,” she tweeted after her marathon of a lifetime.
“I was waiting for such a race. I went into it healthy with good preparation, except for the stressful journey here,” she recounted, and coach Janoušek nodded. “The little things we’ve been putting together for four years have come together. At the beginning she ran on feelings, in the second half she was able to speed up,” he praised.
“I hope that this time and record will open the door to the world elite. A record and a limit, it sounds unbelievable,” she blurted out. “And Moira is going to the Olympics,” Janoušek rejoiced, knowing that it is not realistic for three Czech endurance women to beat Stewart’s time this time…