The Slet Relay is a typical example of Sokol reciprocity. Sokol members from every corner of the country will carry the Slet messages to Prague and will let the public know that a Slet is going to be held. The Sokol representatives will finally hand the messages over to the Mayor of the Czech Sokol Organization, Hana Moučková, at the Tyrš House in Prague on 1 October 2023. The messages will be carried by runners, cyclists or motorists. The Slet year will thus be officially launched.
This year, the Slet Relay is part of the #BeActive Sokol Jointly in Motion project, involving over 300 gymnastics clubs. With a touch of exaggeration it may be said that the batons will sail through waters, run, cycle, travel by tram, ride in buggies or climb mountain peaks.
On foot or on horseback
Don’t you believe it? Sokol Uherský Brod will for instance start the relay race by meeting Sokol Trenčín on the Moravian-Slovak border on the top of the Velké Javořiny Mountain. In Prague, the participants will be running steeply up Thomayer Hill or Vyšehrad stairway. In Dobřichovice, the participants will organize a skill bike ride through Kamenný Újezd, while in Duchcov, the baton will be moved on in prams and will not get lost even in the Ostroměř night race. From Komárov to Valdek the batons will be carried on horsebacks, in Valdice the runners will go through Libosad.
Even the most remote rural Sokol units will connect with all the others. Gradually, the relay batons will reach the Sokol district organizations and with their ribbons will, as always, send a message of joy over the upcoming Slet. They will symbolically launch the rehearsal of the twelve Slet mass gymnastics performances and open the XVIIth All-Sokol Slet year.
The batons will travel through the district organizations to the regional towns. The regional batons of different sizes will be decorated with ribbons of the Sokol units. Together with the Slet messages they will be delivered to the Sokol headquarters in the Tyrš House. On the first day of October, costumed representatives of the district organizations travelling by tram will ceremoniously hand them over to the Slet Committee.
History of Slet relays
The Slet Sokol relays were organized earlier than those of the Olympic Games. Only they were called Slet Runs back then. In October 1919, runners carried a case with a greeting message to president T.G. Masaryk. Male-only participants ran the total of 1661 kilometers on seven tracks. In 1947, 46 029 people participated, but the tradition was cut afterwards by the communist ban on the Sokol organization. The relay was reinstated in September 2005, and since then has been opening the Slet years.
Why join the relay? Zdeněk Lauschmann, the sponsor of the past Slet relays, put it beautifully when he said:
“You become a co-creator of a great and beautiful work, which may not tower over the city like a cathedral, but which will remain in the memories of all those who witnessed it. So run or ride with your head held high!”
Slets bring people together. Let the relay be the beginning of the gathering and the Slet its culmination. Sokol is alive!