100th anniversary of Poland regaining independence is a very special occasion to take part in the 100th anniversary relay race called “Sky-Earth-Water-Fire”. On the 10th of November, on the grounds of AWF (Józef Piłsudski University of Physical Education) in Warsaw, the best Polish athletes will compete against their fans and against one another. As emphasized during the last press conference in the John Paul II Olympic Center, the event will take place not only on the grounds of a university named after Józef Piłsudski but also on the day that marks the 100th anniversary of his return to the capital of Poland
This special day will provide a unique opportunity to run in teams comprised of Olympic medalists, as well as other national and world champions of various disciplines.
Each relay race will have four teams of 100 members who will run 100 km in almost 50 loops, each 2018 m long. Each team will have a special leader: SKY – Wojciech Fortuna, EARTH – Tomasz Majewski and Piotr Małachowski, WATER – Otylia Jędrzejczak and Zofia Klepacka, FIRE – Zbigniew Bródka and Rafał Sonik.
Many former athletes, sailors, and rowers have already confirmed their participation, including Urszula Włodarczyk, Kazimierz Marczuk, Marek Plawgo, Dariusz Wieczorek, Katarzyna Deberny (Szotyńska), Karolina Winkowska, and Natalia Madaj-Smolińska among others.
Each team has 20 slots dedicated for professional athletes, former or active. The registration of amateur runners is scheduled to begin on 25 April, which is 200 days before the anniversary of Polish independence. It will stay open until July 25th unless the limit of 80 slots in each team is reached.
“Besides celebrating the 100th anniversary of Polish independence, the main goal of the race is to bring the general public and their families, together with the most acclaimed Polish sportsmen, as well as to commemorate those athletes who had won the most prestigious medals and titles, representing our country in a variety of disciplines, sometimes in the far distant past”, explained Andrzej Kraśnicki, the president of the Polish Olympic Committee.
Although based on the postulates by Pierre de Coubertin, a French baron, educator, and a founding father of the modern Olympics Games, the anniversary race doesn’t lack the element of rivalry. The order of relay races will depend on the results of a 100KM run within an 8-hour limit. If the distance of 100 km will not be finished, the number of kilometers achieved by 6:00 pm will be used as a decisive factor.
“According to the rules of this race, you cannot overtake the runner who is holding the baton, and they must, in turn, keep the speed of those around them. This type of setup is perfect for me; nobody will be able to pass me”, -confessed Majewski with excitement.
The gold medalist in rowing from Rio, Natalia Madaj-Smolińska, was also satisfied with such a decision. Even though, as she added, running a loop of 2018m would not cause her any difficulties, since she had already run a half marathon before.
The same running track will host another run on November 10 – the 100 km Polish National. The list of participants for that run is filling up very quickly. 200 days before the takeoff, 160 contestants from over 100 places in Poland have already signed up. There are only 40 slots left before the limit of 200 runners is reached, because of the restricted capacity of the running track. The end of the registration period on 6 June also marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jan Henryk Dąbrowski, a Polish general who founded the Polish Legions in Italy.
“We are very happy to provide the space for this unique celebration, but objectively speaking, it is also the best possible location in terms of logistics and infrastructure. We have everything we need to successfully organize unique sporting competitions that may last all day. Moreover, the running track passes close to a historic hotel “Meksyk”, which was built for the Polish athletic team, training before the Olympic Games in Mexico in 1968. This is where this unusual name comes from”. added prof. Andrzej Mastalerz from AWF.
The musicians from the band Trubadurzy, who have been connected with the Olympics for quite a while, are also the special ambassadors of the event. “We were in Munich in 1972, serving as the representation of Polish artists. We remember feeling like a part of the Polish Olympic team. We even felt we might have influenced their performances in a positive way. After all, our shows and our music got them the right rhythm”, suggested Lichtman with pride.