Top Scottish endurance runner Luke Traynor won last Saturday’s Mattoni České Budějovice Half Marathon in a time of 63.42 to become the event’s first-ever European winner.
The 13.1-mile race was the second of two Czech events this year with a policy of only inviting European elites in a bid to promote the development of athletics across Europe.
The ‘EuroHeroes’ initiative, launched by race organisers RunCzech and supported by European Athletics, is seen as a response to the decades-long dominance of long-distance running by East Africans.
In a statement earlier this year, RunCzech said: “Amid such incredible African stars, Europe has struggled to find its own heroes. The media and, therefore, the public no longer pay attention to local elite runners whom fans and athletes can identify with and whose performances should serve as inspiration for the next generation.”
Although nearly two minutes off his personal best of 61.55 set earlier this year in Barcelona, Traynor was pleased with his winning performance.
“[Ukrainian runner] Roman [Romanenko] kept up with me for practically the whole race, but I felt I had a bit extra to give and in the end managed to speed up a bit,” Traynor said after his victory. “Although I’m a bit tired, I have to say I really enjoyed the race, the atmosphere was fantastic, with loads of fans along the course and I’m also delighted with my finishing time.
“Even though my personal best is two minutes faster, it’s still a good time on this course which is a tad tricky.”