Robert Stefko will travel
to his third World Half Marathon Champs
Alfons Juck for the IAAF
3 October 2001 – Praha, Slovak Republic – The top Slovak distance runner, Robert Stefko, takes Sunday’s jubilee edition of the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships as his main goal for year 2001. It will be his third start at these championships. He competed at the inaugural edition in Tyneside – the last time he wore the former federal Czechoslovak vest (finished 37th) - and then at home in Košice in 1997 (29th). The championships in Slovakia are considered as the best so far of the past 9 editions and the only one where the first two athletes across the line went under one hour.
Stefko (33 years old) started this year with an excellent 10th place at the World Cross Country Champs in Belfast. Then he wanted to qualify for marathon in Edmonton. Unfortunately influenza did not allow him to run in London and everything was lost. He tried in Prague Marathon one month later, but was finally “only” a rabbit.
At that time he had already chosen Bristol as his next goal. But his preparations were not optimal. Mainly back problems contributed to the fact that he was not able to fulfill all his plans.
“I expect a very fast race in Bristol. I saw Gebreselassie on the road in Praha and I think in the present situation he is unbeatable, I even think he can break the world best time. This year’s Championships are looking as one of the best concerning the participation. The event is growing in importance and quality.
“My position will be not easy, but I hope to run under 62 minutes and this should allow maybe a position in the top twenty. Next goal is the New York Marathon and then the cross season,” said Stefko.
He always travels to events at the last possible moment. Also this time, he will fly only on Saturday to Bristol. He is living in Praha with his wife and their young son Sebastian (born in April, 2000).
Stefko holds nearly all Slovak records and bests in events from the mile to the marathon. His best track placing was 4th position at the European Championships 1994 at 10,000 m. He ran already one half-marathon race in 2001: in April he finished 4th in Berlin with 1:02:20. His Slovak best is 60:29 in 2000.
In his career he finished so far six marathons (he also ran in some as pacemaker and the only one he was not able to finish was the Olympic race last year in Sydney due to flu).
Progression at the Marathon
Kosice, 5, 2:25:11
1997, New York, 7, 2:11:11
1998, London, 6, 2:09:53
1998, New York, 12, 2:12:52
1999, Kosice, 1, 2:14:10
2000, Ohtsu, 15, 2:13:57