"Race for Life" coming to Czech Republic

A series of 4km fun run events will be held in cities and towns across the Czech Republic this year, in order to raise money and awareness for cancer research in the country. The format of the events will be similar to that of a successful scheme in the UK which has been running since 1994. And, like the UK events, the Czech version will be sponsored and organised with the help of supermarket giant Tesco. I went along to the inaugural press conference to find out more.

The aim of the Race for Life events or "Běh pro Život" as they are being called in Czech, is to raise money for cancer research in the Czech Republic. They also aim to get people who are otherwise less active than they perhaps should be, into sport in a fun and organised way. Carlo Capalbo, who organises the annual Prague International Marathon, addressed the conference with a message of how important events like these are:

"I found out something which is a bit shocking. The generation of our children may be the first generation who will live less than their parents. This concerns the entire society. We need to move more and be more active in order to feel better, to not get sick and to then in turn enjoy a better quality of life and a healthier lifestyle."

Around 65,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year in the Czech Republic, and close to 30,000 Czechs die from the disease each year. Clearly raising money for research is of great importance, and, like in many other countries, these funds have to be raised privately. Eva Williams, Corporate Director for Czech and Slovak Tesco Stores, spoke to me after the conference and again highlighted why getting people moving will not only improve their quality of life and health, but also raise money to be used in combating and treating people with cancer.

"The biggest goal is to involve as any people as possible. Firstly in trying to adapt them to an active way of live; to get them to move, to be more active and to change their lifestyle a little, too. We're really talking here not to sporty people, but to families and kids and people who probably don't get as much exercise as they should. And by getting involved they will also be raising money for a good cause; for cancer research. So it's really two main objectives, raise money for research and get people moving out there."

In the first year how many people do you hope to see involved and how much money do you hope to raise?

"It's quite a unique project for the Czech Republic and there are not many other events to which we can compare ourselves, so for the time being we are being perhaps quite realistic and hoping we can raise a million crowns this year and have about 5,000 people participating. It is a 4km race, or rather run; it's not really a race as such: anyone can walk it, they don't have to run. That's something that our CEO here in the Czech Republic keeps telling me all the time: "I can't run, but I have to participate, please don't make me run!" But he'll definitely go, and the whole of Czech Tesco's management will go. We are inviting everyone who is not a sporty person, to come and get involved and join in."

The races will be held in seven different cities across the Czech Republic, starting in late August in Most and finishing in October in the town of Hradec Kralove. More information can be found on Tesco's online site for the Czech Republic.