Sport faces enormous challenges, and the need to adapt to a fast-paced world is among them. Fewer and fewer people have the time and patience to watch sports events lasting several hours. Even football keeps looking for ways to constantly refresh its image. Is the running world immune to this situation? It surely isn’t. Can marathons afford sticking stubbornly to the rules that were established in 1912 and have remained practically unchanged since then?
This year’s 45th Nationale-Nederlanden Warsaw Marathon will show that changes are not just possible, but also that they have a positive impact on the media coverage of the event. On September 24 we shall witness the debut of a completely new format of marathon competition. The “Warsaw Marathon” Foundation launches a project that can revolutionise European distance running and make it no less exciting than cycling tours.
A new format for the Marathon’s jubilee
TEAM UP! EUROPE is a competition of marathon teams. The team competition in the marathon is of course nothing new – let’s just recall that Polish female marathoners are the current bronze medalists of the European team championships. However, Team Up! Europe goes a few steps further. First of all – the teams taking part are mixed ones. Secondly, managers from all over Europe were invited to cooperate in developing the project, and they, not the organizer, are fully responsible for the set-up of individual teams. Thirdly – the teams will only include athletes from Europe. What does this mean in practice?
– For many years we have wanted to propose a formula that, on the one hand, would attract top European runners to Warsaw, and, on the other hand, would give our event a whole new dimension – says Marek Tronina, director of the “Warsaw Marathon” Foundation. – This year we celebrate 45 years of the Big Race. This is a great time for innovative and robust ideas. After exploring many options, we are confident that Team Up! Europe will change the face of our event forever.
Team Up! Europe – innovative rules of the game
What will the competition look like? At the start of this year’s run, we will see 6 teams of four, with each team observing a statutory requirement to represent both genders. The final result of each team includes the three best results at the finish line, where – which is very important – the basis is not the time itself, but its point equivalent calculated as per World Athletics conversion factors. In practice, this means that thanks to the Team Up! Europe, the sports effort of men and women will be comparable.
Prizes worth fighting for!
In Team Up! Europe, the prizes are impressive. The winning team will receive €20,000, followed by €12,000, €9,000, €6,000, €5,000 and €4,000 respectively.
– We take this competition extremely seriously, because we are aware of how innovative this step is – adds Marek Tronina. “But we are ready and determined to start making some serious changes to the world of distance running.
In Team Up! Europe the main prize is 20,000 euros, while in the individual marathon classification it is only 1,000 euros. Does this mean that individual ranking is now less important?
– Absolutely not, the individual classification will be no less important. – says Magdalena Skrocka, deputy director of the run. – The best runner will win anyway, because he, like every member of the team, will want to get the best result. The only thing that’s changing is that the leader will pull his team along, and the team will, in turn, try not to spoil the hard-earned lead.
Importantly, a factor absent in individual competition – the team spirit – will play a huge role. And it’s not just runners have a common goal, but that each team member shares a collective responsibility. Even in the face of the greatest crisis, an athlete will remember their attitude can affect the entire team’s final result.
Hungary on full alert
The first crew to present is Synergy Team Hungary. The manager of the team is a two-time Olympian (London and Rio), winner of the Las Vegas and Dusseldorf marathons, Zsófia Erdelyi. She will be a running manager, as she is one of the Hungarian team members.
- Hungary may not be associated with a marathon, but as soon as I heard about the project, I immediately decided that my country’s team must appear in Warsaw – says Zsófia Erdelyi. – Some of the top runners were excluses, because they are focused on the world championships, to be held in Budapest this year. Instead, I focused on athletes from the second line and worked on building a team spirit with them, because this will be crucial in the competition. Warsaw is going to see a Hungarian team of four, ready to fight for every second.
In addition to captain Zsófi Erdelyi, Synergy Team Hungary will be represented by Katalin Kovacs-Garami, Levente Szemerei and Peter Jenkei.
TEAM UP – not just for professionals?
Almost in parallel with team presentations, we shall soon start registration for Team Up! Everyone. Its rules are almost identical to those for professionals. The difference is that while the registration for the former is already closed, amateur runners will be able to sign up from the beginning of August until almost mid-September. Who is Team Up! Everyone for? Every runner who wants to start in the 45th Nationale-Nederlanden Warsaw Marathon! It is enough to have a bib number assigned, find two or three more people who also have their bib numbers and sign up via a dedicated form in August. Come along then – be part of the premiere edition of Team Up! Everyone.
Huge changes and great emotions in the very centre of Warsaw
Will Team Up! Europe revolutionize European running? Will the new emotions appeal to running fans and to participants? This year’s competition will really be worth watching. The “Warsaw Marathon” Foundation has shown many times that it is not afraid of new solutions. Running fans will again have a chance to closely observe what happens on the streets of Warsaw on September 24th. Especially that the start and finish of the race are located (for the first time in history) in the immediate vicinity of the legendary and symbolic Palace of Culture – in Emilia Plater street.
For details of the competition, please visit www.teamupeurope.eu. The next teams will be presented every Tuesday. Registration for the jubilee edition of the marathon in Warsaw takes place at www.rejestracja.maratonwarszawski.com/.