38th Budějovice are over!
The 38th edition is over
Although in the spring it did not look too rosy with the organization of events, we believed that at least in some form we would be able to organize the legendary Budějovice – Prague paddling race. In the end, we managed to successfully run the 38th edition of the event in the established three-day format with all the trimmings and foreign participation. The stages, however, have undergone minor changes compared to last year. On the first day we rode 64 km from Český Vrbný to Zvíkov and on the second day 64 km from Zvíkov to Ždáň (Slapy). Only the third day remained the same as usual, 31 km from below Slapy to Prague, so that it could be combined with a short race. The long race started with 29 competitors on different types of vessels. For now, speed or sea kayaks still dominate, but the second most numerous group was the increasingly popular paddleboards with six starters. The traditional participants were complemented by quite a few who wanted to try or simply ride this paddling ultra marathon. For the first time in a long time, four women also entered the race. As usual, the motivation of the competitors was different. Some came to fight for the position, others came to overcome themselves and others simply to be with their friends on the water.
On Friday, immediately after the start, a group of four kayakers, Petr Mojžíšek, Martin Kucián, Matouš Pavlík and Tomáš Mareš, took the lead. The last named had bad luck before Podolsko. He got tangled in the fishermen’s lines, took a swim and lost the group. Thus, only the top three arrived first with a gap of one second. Only one competitor, Josef Liška, did not make it to the finish due to health problems. The women on inflatable paddleboards in particular struggled with a large portion of kilometers, but all of them finally reached the finish before 8pm.
Two fewer competitors started the Saturday morning leg. Pavol Skovajsa and Šárka Langová decided that it was too much for them to do the whole race this year. The others started gradually towards the Orlík dam, which they crossed by elevator. The meanders of the Vltava River start at Zvírotice, which can be shortened by an 8 km long run. Here, if the front of the race is balanced as this year, the race can be decided. Tomáš Mareš, as the only one of the leading four, decided not to run. Petr Mojžíšek, in the heat of the Křepenice fields, gained a lead of less than three minutes on Martin Kucián and both of them had a significant gap to Matouš Pavlík, who was not very successful in athletics. Petr Mojžíšek finally arrived at the finish of the stage in the campsite in Skalice with a lead of over five minutes over Martin Kucián. Tomáš Mareš surprised Matouš Pavlík with his secret home preparation and with a run over Stará Živohošt’ he secured a two and a half minute lead over him. All competitors finally reached the finish line. It was again a very long day for the women paddleboarders, who spent over thirteen hours on the course!
On Sunday before noon, the last leg of the race started from below the Slapy dam together with the Slapy – Prague race, which meant that thirty more boats joined the competitors from Budějovice on the start line. This fact can often shuffle the overall standings of a long race and this year it was indeed the case. Shortly after the start, a group of Petr Mojžíšek, Martin Kucián, Matouš Pavlík and Tomislav Dědič formed at the front of the race and started to leave the rest of the starting field. Matouš tried to work on a high pace to erase his loss to Tomáš Mareš. Petr Mojžisek kept a close eye on Martin Kucián. Eventually the group gradually broke up under Zbraslav and Petr Mojžíšek crossed the finish line first, securing his overall victory in the long race in 11:59:04 ahead of Martin Kucián and Matouš Pavlík (all USK Praha). Vojtěch Mareš finished his tenth long race on C1 to win the Iron Budmen title. The winner of the short race was Tomislav Dědič from Sokol Písek with an excellent ride in 2:15:14.
Five paddleboards, three of them inflatable, finally reached the finish line of the long race. David Raab easily won the men’s category. Petra Vrágová and Petra Horáčková pushed the limits of what can be considered possible by completing the whole course. Their time of over 29 hours is an expression of determination and determination to finish the race at any cost, and these are exactly the qualities that one can test on oneself during the Budějovice – Prague race. So see you next year!