WITC at Biegnij Warszawo 2012 – with the Spartans!

WITC at Biegnij Warszawo, 7th October 2012

The biggest running event in Warsaw was once again a highlight on WITC’s calendar this year with a record 40+ club runners taking part. It also marked the first race where club members also ran to raise money and awareness for Spartanie Dzieciom. The “Spartans” are a group of runners who take part in a few events a year dressed as Spartans to raise awareness for charities helping disabled children.  This year they are raising awareness for a pre-school in Poznan and are trying to raise 42,195PLN (1,000zl for every km in a marathon).

WITC runners at Biegnij Warszawo with our Spartans – all smiles in the cold before the race

And so on a cold morning in October, 4 WITC’ers – Andy Mossop, Karolys Merkys, Tristan Sakura and Ewa Smiechowksa braved the elements to dress up in capes, wear helmets and carry spears, and of course to dance the Haka in front of thousands of spectators. Here are their thoughts about that memorable day:

“Before Biegnij Warszawo I was the only one out of the four of us who managed to get to the Haka practice.  Doing the Haka in the dark under a tree with 5 other fully grown men was a good fun experience and I was surprised how quickly we learned it. When we actually went out on the run things varied between military precision and chaotic rambling, but it was always fun and people always gave us a warm reception clapping us along.  It felt like there was a lot of support for the idea even if not everyone fully understood what we were doing (I think some people just liked this new synchronized running fad and thought the costumes were funny).
We did the Haka 4 times in total, once at the start, once after the finish and twice in the middle.  I think by the end of it we’d pretty much perfected our individual mean faces (I used a cat doing a tequila slammer as inspiration for mine) and it was fun having people ask to take photos with us (I’ve got to remember not to smile in these photos!).

After the race it was pretty satisfying to see the donations coming into the domore website, though we’ve still got some way to go to get to the target, so any donation (even 5 / 10 zl) is going to help us.  The more the better!

The Spartans at the starting line about to do the Haka – with Ewa taking centre stage


I started running a year ago and during that year, thanks to WITC, I accomplished everything I ever wanted to achieve in running. I completed one 5k race (my favourite distance) among 5 fastest women (thank you once again Laurent!) and I ran a marathon (thank you Magda, Lizzy, Seb and everyone!). I had a feeling of gratitude and at the same time I knew I couldn’t achieve much more. Running with Spartans was a great way to give something back and to give my running new meaning.


Our 4 Spartans all dressed up before the race

Running as Spartan is a totally different experience, motivation and reward. Getting into the suit just makes it special. It is strange to run carrying all that on yourself but fun and people reactions are very engaging. This also makes you feel the strong relationship with the group. On top of the attention that we get and all that fun about the fact itself, it is very rewarding to know you also contribute to helping children. Overall, it’s a triple win: a win for children, a win for runners and a win for the public.

And last but not least our star blogger Tristan had a few profound comments:

10 km race?  In October?  Running half-naked?  Sure, why not?

The biggest shock about the whole process was receiving our “uniforms”.  When the guy passed me the “pants,” I actually thought it was one of the arm-bands, because it was so small and only had material on one-side.  Nope, it was the pants.  And in this case, I mean it the way the British use it (i.e. “underwear”).  There was no back side to these so-called pants!!!  Basically it was a fancy leather thong.  When we asked what we should wear under it, the guy motioned around his downstairs area with his hands, then shrugged his shoulders and said “nothing, really”.

We did a nice, easy pace, finishing 10 km in 1 hour 5 minutes (with 2 stops for more Haka dancing along the route).  The group did some marching chants that I never managed to figure out the words to, but it must have been inspiring, because after each time, the runners around us would start clapping and cheering…again, while racing!  It was awesome. 

After the race, we performed the Haka a couple more times, took a “victory lap” around the track, and posed for pictures with fans.  I think they were surprised to see an Asian-looking face under the helmet.  Maybe they’ve never heard about the Spartan-Hun student exchange program.

All the WITC’ers together after a great race – well done everyone!!


You can view the club’s picture gallery here.




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