28th October 2021

English version
SokoLove Keep Going! Interview with Dagmar Merková about Sokol Run of the Republic

SokoLove Keep Going! Interview with Dagmar Merková about Sokol Run of the Republic

Sokol Run of the Republic is already held 3rd year in multiple places in Czech Republic. But also abroad and even “across the pond”. One of the american cities which are organizing Sokol Run is Washington D.C. Here are some answers about organizing this race from Dagmar Merková, housekeeper of Sokol in Washington D.C.

SokoLove Keep Going! An interview with Dáša Merková about the Sokol Run of the Republic “across the pond”

The Sokol Run of the Republic is being held for the third time in dozens of places in the Czech Republic. But not only there - it also appeals to Sokol members beyond the borders of our country, and even across the pond. Washington, D.C. is one of the American cities where the run will take place this year on the occasion of the anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia. Dagmar Merková, an economist at the Washington Sokol Union and the organizer of the Sokol Run of the Republic, answers questions about its organization.

You are organizing the Sokol Run of the Republic for the second time in Washington. What are your memories of last year’s event, which was marked by the pandemic?

We are organizing the run for the third time. We remember the first one the most - probably because it rained terribly. However, last year was weird too. Fortunately, we were allowed to organize the run on the right day and we hoped that it would offer the people in the Czech Republic some hope and a glimmer of light regarding the situation at home. We also had a short message in the Czech Television newscast and it was nice to hear from acquaintances and family that they had heard about us running here.

How many people took part in the run, were they just Czechs living in Washington, or someone else? And what were people’s reactions to the event?

Last year we had 50 competitors, of which 8 were children. Most were from the Washington DC area, but a few friends from Alabama and Canada joined remotely. People really liked the race.

What participation (in terms of numbers and composition) do you expect at the Sokol Run of the Republic in Washington this year?

I expect around 50 people attending again. Last year’s situation helped to reduce traffic. This year, therefore, we are organizing the race on a Sunday morning, so that we can cope with the increasing traffic. I also hope more children will participate and hopefully friends from Canada will organize their own local race.

Where will course of the Sokol Run of the Republic in Washington be? What makes the route interesting?

Our race runs around Rock Creek Park, which stretches through a substantial part of our city and it is a popular place for running, walking and cycling. At the weekend, the local road closes - precisely so that it can used only for sports, bicycles, scooters, skates. Our course leads along the path which follows the stream. Rock Creek also flows past the Czech Embassy here in Washington, DC.

What do you personally think about this event whose aim is to commemorate the foundation of Czechoslovakia, what do you like about it?

I like running and combining my favorite activity with such a significant anniversary of my birthplace was an incentive for me to get involved in the project. Commemorating the anniversary, acquainting our children with the history of the Czech Republic and Sokol plus in connection with with physical activity is the best way.

In your experience, how strong is the patriotic feeling of Czechs living in America and is this the main reason for them to participate in the Sokol Run of the Republic? Or what other reasons do they have?

The local Sokol in our area is like a bridge between the Czech Republic and the USA. Many of our members are only here temporarily, whether they are embassy staff or temporary researchers. That is probably why our Sokol is one of those with greater Czech and Slovak presence compared to other clubs in other US cities, and that is why the old settlers probably have a closer relationship with the Czech Republic and the Czech Sokol organisation.

How is Sokol perceived and what is its reputation in America? For example, do Americans have any awareness of this organisation?

Sokol is well known in the Czech community. Many members in other states, for example, no longer speak Czech, but still greet each other by saying “Nazdar” and they try to maintain the Sokol tradition. However, most organisations serve the local community by offering sports activities, although they have recently been trying to expand their activities beyond gymnastics.

Is there a similar association in the USA?

Yes. American Sokol is a national organization that, like in the Czech Republic, has its unions and regional organisations. So our club is one of many. American Sokol also has rallies and competitions. It has a rich history, it was founded in 1862 and is therefore only a few years younger than the Czech Sokol organisation.

What would you like to tell runners in the Czech Republic?

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