UK Run 2 : Edinburgh

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 If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research :

Date : 25th  June, 2018

Time :  58’ 55”

Number of runners : 83 (50 at the Run4It Run Club ; 33 at Cargilfield School)

Total distance run to date : 1480 km

Run map and details :

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Every Monday at 6pm the Edinburgh (Lothian) Run4It Run Club meets at, appropriately, the Run 4 It shop on Lothian Road in Edinburgh. The run is free, professionally organised, and the format varies week by week to include both standard runs and interval training. Judging from the feedback I heard on Monday, people love it.

Emma, the store manager, had been good enough to invite me to join the run. And Debs, who organises the runs, had been good enough to plot a 10km route (not their usual distance) to accommodate my certifiable plan to run 2 500 000 metres by completing a 10km run in every country in the world – plus a further 45 in the UK. (For readers not familiar with Run the World, I’m raising funds for Cancer Research and the rationale for running 2 500 000 metres is that it’s a metre for every one of the UK’s 2.5 million cancer sufferers.)

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There were about 50 of us at the start, too many to take a group photo outside the shop so we set off for the local canal for the group shot at the top of the blog.

Those of you who know Edinburgh, will know that it’s a beautiful city. And a hilly one. Except, of course, by the canal. Where it is flat.

Which made it an ideal route as far as I was concerned, as every bit of my body, including, bizarrely, my hands, was still suffering from the 80 minutes of hell that was the ‘social’ triathlon I’d done 2 days before,

It wasn’t just the flatness that made it a great run. There was also the company, the beautiful sunlit evening and the ‘different groups running at different speeds meaning that everyone had someone to run with’. The route even took us past that temple to Scottish rugby that is Murrayfield. Very exciting for a sports nut like me.

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But all good things come to an end and it was time to say goodbye and thank you to my fellow runners. And meet up with Mike, one of my oldest friends and a recent Edinburgh convert.

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We were planning to do a bit of evening sightseeing but the World Cup, and the need to refuel, demanded that we started with a quick visit to the pub.

Much is made of the rivalry between England and Scotland at football. However, I couldn’t help noticing that the locals spontaneously cheered when Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty. Just as they would have done in any pub in England.

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After that we strolled along Princes St, overlooking the Princes Street Gardens and under looking Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. Taking in the local sights which included, to my somewhat clichéd touristic delight, some Scottish dancing

Scottish dancing in Edinburgh. Full story at

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and some drum and bagpipe.

Drum and bagpipe in Edinburgh. Full story at

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Mike’s not the only old friend to have succumbed to Edinburgh’s charms. David moved there with his family a few years back and he’d arranged for me to talk at his daughter’s school, Cargilfield.

This was an interesting one for me. Many of the schools I’ve talked at abroad have had British teachers – and plenty of them had warned me about British students. Apparently we’re an unruly bunch.

As a result I wasn’t sure what to expect from Cargilfield – my first school in the UK.

I needn’t have worried. These were bright, engaged, well informed* students and I thoroughly enjoyed the talk.

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Afterwards I went for a 1 kilometre run with Y 4. I couldn’t tell you whether they all enjoyed it as much as I did but they were a confident, enthusiastic group and it was great meeting, and chatting with, them.

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I could go on for a long time about Run 4 It, about Edinburgh and about Cargilfield. But this has already been a long blog and it’s time to say my thank yous. To Emma, Debs  and Run 4 It. To Mike. To David, Lisa, Headmaster Rob Taylor, Mr Pike and all the staff and pupils at Cargilfield.

It was a fantastic trip to Edinburgh and, if you could all just guarantee that the weather would always be that sunny, I think I might move there!

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*Better informed than me when it came to the height of Ben Nevis! (For the record, the correct height is 1345 m.)




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UK Run 1 : Newcastle

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If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research :

Date : 26th  May, 2018

Time :  1h 02’ 27”

Number of runners : 32

Total distance run to date : 1470 km

Run map and details :

Media :

I wasn’t sure how to start this blog. Should I write about the great city of Newcastle? And all the warmth, help and support I received there? Or about how nervous I felt before this – my first of 45 UK runs? (Taking my global total to 250 runs – which is equivalent to running 2 500 000 metres. A metre for every cancer sufferer in the UK.)

Or about Mike and the group of friends I go walking with every May. (This year’s walk had been along the Northumbrian coast meaning that we’d come into Newcastle that morning after a night in Whitley Bay.)

All fine topics but I think I’m going to start by writing about that most un-British of subject matters – emotion.

After the welcome speeches from CRUK’s Carolyn – who talked about the Northern Institute for Cancer Research’s fantastic work  – and myself, two runners approached me to say that the day before they’d attended the funeral of one of their closest friends who’d died from cancer. They’d taken a collection at the funeral and were going to donate the money raised to cancer research.

I was struck by their generosity and thoughtfulness. And their grief. Which I could almost physically feel – and which took me back to my mother’s fight against cancer and its cruel, harrowing, killing clutches.

By this stage I was tearing up and it took a ‘manly’ throat clearance or two before I could make my way to the start of the run.

But before we get on to the run, I’d like to take us back to the preceding Wednesday when I’d arrived in Newcastle. Active Newcastle had provided us with great support from the outset and had introduced us to Garry, the Policy and Communication Business Partner at Newcastle City Council. Garry met me at Exhibition Park and we spent about an hour on photos and video from which he put together the following video. I can’t bear to watch myself on film but I’m told he did a pretty good job.

From there I made my way to St. James’ Park, one of the world’s great football grounds, to meet up with Ashley from the Newcastle United Foundation and to attend one of their FREE fitness classes. (Which include High Intensity Interval Training and Running Fitness classes every Wednesday 5.30 – 6.45 pm. Give them a go – they’re professionally coached and very friendly!)

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Between some of the people from the class, some people who’d seen Garry’s video, the walking crowd, some extended family, Michael’s local contacts and a team from Womble Bond Dickinson, there were about 30 of us at the bandstand in Exhibition Park for the start of the run.

For those who don’t know it, Exhibition Park contains the aforementioned bandstand, some tennis courts, a pond, a skate park and a cafe. And a brewery.

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From Exhibition Park we made our way on to Town Moor, which is an extraordinary 1000 acre green space in the centre of Newcastle. Home to hundreds of cows, it hosts the annual Hoppings, Europe’s largest travelling fair, each June. If you’re ever in the area, it’s also an ideal place to run and walk.

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The run itself was a mix of the pleasure of running and meeting new people. And the sadness of hearing more about the funeral and the friend who’d died unexpectedly early of breast cancer.

All in all , it was great – if emotional – run.

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Huge thanks to everyone who supported the run / walk and Cancer Research UK. To Jodi and Active Newcastle. To Garry and Newcastle City Council. To Ashley and the Newcastle United Foundation. To Mike and the walking boys – Julian, Nic, Julian, Paul (and not forgetting Ann Marie and Gilly from the entourage!). To Chris and Misa, from my extended family. To Asmah, Alison, Sadia, Francis and David from Womble Bond Dickinson. To Mike’s friends including Ian and Lucy. To Carolyn from CRUK.  (Photos of all these good folk below.)

As Mike likes to remind me, I am a namby-pamby, smashed avocado eating, foreign lager drinking southerner but I loved being in Newcastle and I hope to see you all down south one of these days. Perhaps for the London leg of Run the World on July 4th 2020!

Please like Run the World on Facebook to receive notification of future blogs and news about runs, races and running clubs across the world. And also just to show your support because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!


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Womble Bond Dickinson

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(Some of the) walking boys


Chris & Misa

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Early runners

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Cows (Town Moor)

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Attempting to map read




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Run 146 : Turkmenistan – Ashgabat

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If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research :

Date : 12th  May, 2018

Time :  1h 15’ 10”

Number of runners : 20

Total distance run to date : 1460 km

Run map and details :

Media :

When I first drafted this blog, it opened with a long and, although I say it myself, quite amusing rant about how difficult it is to get to, and into, Turkmenistan. But then I figured that readers in Turkmenistan would already be aware of the issue and might find a it all a little boring. So I’ll just say that it was a long day. An unnecessarily and mind-bendingly frustrating long day. And get on with the story.

Once I finally made it out of the airport, things began to improve. The airport itself is one of the most remarkable I’ve ever seen, modelled, I believe, on a Turkmen bird of prey.

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And the airport car park was full of gleaming cars. All of which, I half noticed in my befuddled state, were white.

Finally, 21 hours after I left my hotel in Bishkek, I made it to my hotel in Ashgabat. Not, I have to say, in my usual sunny mood. However, the reception staff were charming (for which they deserve credit given that it was 4 am for them as well) and they helped me download an app that allowed me to get round the local ban on Facebook and WhatsApp. (I can survive without Facebook but WhatsApp is my primary mode of communication on these trips and I’d struggle without it.)

A little sleep and then it was time for lunch with David, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy. Where I learnt that the President has recently opined that all cars should be white – which explained the airport car parks.

After lunch we did a bit of sightseeing and strolled to the Russian market (regular readers will know that I like markets) where there was a fine selection of herbs, tea and caviar. But not that many customers…

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David had done an excellent job of organising the run and 20 of us participated (at least to some degree!) Including Ambassador Thorda Abbott-Watt who’d been good enough to come along to set us on our way.

David had devised the route

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to take in a number of sights including Philosopher’s Park with its many statues of wise Turkmen

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and the Monument With 40 Legs – not its real name – which commemorates the Turkmen love of all things equestrian.

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All in all, the centre of Ashgabat is pretty impressive and a good place to run. I particularly liked the local circus.

Circus Ashgabat

My fellow runners were a great mix of nationalities with some attached to the British Embassy, some from the local UN Development Program

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and some from other walks of life. After the run a few of us went for a swift half and a bite to eat.

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and then it was time to prepare myself for the next flight. Which left at 2.55am (well, 3.45 am after you take the delay into account.)

But that’s a rant / story for another time. For now I just want to say a huge thank you to David, Ambassador Abbott-Watt and all my fellow runners for their company and support. Really enjoyed the run!

And, David, good luck setting up the Ashgabat hash. Or Hashgabat as it will no doubt be called!

 Please like Run the World on Facebook to receive notification of future blogs and news about runs, races and running clubs across the world. And also just to show your support because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!


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Run 145 : Kyrgyzstan – Bishkek

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If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research :

Date : 10th  May, 2018

Time :  1h 10’ 42”

Number of runners : 35

Total distance run to date : 1450 km

Run map and details :

Media : ; David’s film

One of the perks of what I’m doing is that I get to meet lots of people who’ve done, or are doing, crazy challenges. However, in terms of scope, distance, danger, terrain and temperature, Joe’s challenge is the most extreme I’ve ever come across.

He’s planning to run north to south through every country in Africa. Yes, including the ones with deserts, jungles and ongoing civil wars.

And the man’s got previous. He’s already run through Egypt and Sudan. And would have completed Ethiopia as well except that he had to stop for medical reasons. Including a dodgy heart.

As a general rule, I wouldn’t want to dissuade anyone from taking on a challenge but – please be careful mate!

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Having said all that, he’s one of the nicest blokes you could hope to meet and, together with the lovely Cholpon and Deniya, had arranged an excellent run for us in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

We started at the train station and, including the two runners we picked up en route, there were about 35 of us. Because of my flight schedule we didn’t meet till 20.30. So, by the time we’d taken a group photo or two, and said a welcoming word or two,

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it was almost 21.00. Which meant that it was dark by the time we started running.

Which is a surprisingly good time to run in Bishkek. Partly because it was beautifully cool. But mostly because of the atmospheric lighting in the city centre which included various I heart Bishkek signs.

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And the crowning glory – the lights in Ala-Too Square. Essentially these are thousands of neon tubes suspended in the air about 20 metres above the square. Which all change colour in a synchronised fashion. Remarkable.

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Once through Ala-Too we headed back towards the station to finish our run and take a few post run photos – in our green ‘I Love Running Kyrgyzstan’ tops.

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Fortunately, those of us who ran can experience it all again thanks to David’s beautifully shot video of the whole thing:

After the run, Simon and I went with Cholpon to meet some of her friends in a bar

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where I was introduced to the shisha pipe. For anyone unfamiliar with this you are essentially smoking flavoured tobacco bubbled through water. It’s not for me – when all’s said and done its still tobacco – but I can see why the whole experience might be enjoyable…

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It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Cholpon, Joe, David, Daniyar, I Love Running Kyrgyzstan and all my fellow runners for their company. I hope to see you all in London one of these days!

Please like Run the World on Facebook to receive notification of future blogs and news about runs, races and running clubs across the world. And also just to show your support because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!


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Run 144 : Kazakhstan – Almaty

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If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research :

Date : 9th  May, 2018

Time :  54’ 54”

Number of runners : 34

Total distance run to date : 1440 km

Run map and details :

Media : ;

The conversations on these runs can be fascinating. The previous week a professor of physics had been explaining string theory to me in Paris. This week the run was in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and we were discussing the number of Soviet Union citizens who died during WWII. (Estimates vary but the total number of Soviet military deaths is often put at between 8 – 14 million – with a further 20 million+ civilian deaths. Unthinkable numbers.)

The reason for the subject matter was that it was V Day – which is a holiday in many of the ex-Soviet republics and commemorates victory over Germany in WWII. In Kazakhstan there are big parades and people carry pictures of relatives who lost their lives.

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At the time we were doing the 1.5km climb up the west side of President’s Park in Almaty. Which is a well-known climb – apparently it’s a thing on Strava – and, while it’s not too bad the first time round, I could certainly feel it on the 2nd lap of the Park.

By then I was running with diferent people and we were discussing Kazakh food and what you can find at the Green Bazaar (Zelionyj Bazar) in Almaty. The cheese and yoghurts were highly recommended – as was the horsemeat. I must have made a face because my fellow runners looked at me in amazement, “Don’t you eat horsemeat? It’s delicious.”

Truthfully, I’ve no idea why we Brits don’t eat horsemeat. Its eaten all over the world but for some reason – perhaps because horses can be pets here or perhaps because, historically, they played such a large part in our transport and military efforts – its virtually taboo in the UK. Be that as it may, its conversations like this that get you through the tougher bits of the runs.

The rest of the run was a delight. The Park itself is very pretty and is set against a backdrop of snow covered mountains. The company was excellent and the weather perfect.

Presidents Park in Almaty.

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The run had been organised by Marina and Dimitri from I Love Supersort

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which is a fascinating company. Founded in Moscow by some non-runners who wanted professional training to help them complete their first marathon, it now operates in a number of countries in eastern Europe as well as Dubai. It provides running, skiing, swimming, triathlon and cycling coaching and is targeted at the average person rather than the sporting elite. My kind of company!

Normally these blogs are just about the runs but, for once, I was in a country for more than 24 hours so I had some time the following day. Matt B from Tashkent had put me in touch with Neil from the Haileybury School in Almaty and Neil invited me to talk to their Y 7s, 8s and 9s. After the talk we went outside for a group photo

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and then I joined the Y7 for their PE class and we all ran 1km together. This was Neil’s idea but I’ve been wanting to add a running element to the school talks for some time so thank you Neil.

From the school I went to the Green Bazaar, subject of the previous day’s running conversation. As promised there were mountains of veg, cheese and yoghurt. And acres of meat – not all of it instantly identifiable to the British eye. I’ve included a couple of photos below – vegetarians and vegans should look away.

But before we get to the meat pictures, I just want to say a huge thanks to Marina, Dimitri, I Love Supersport, my fellow runners, Neil and the students and teachers at Haileybury for the run(s), the talk and a memorable time in Almaty!

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Run 143 : Tajikistan – Dushanbe

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If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research :

Date : 8th  May, 2018

Time :  55’ 16”

Number of runners : 20

Total distance run to date : 1430 km

Run map and details :

Media: National television : ; ; Bobby’s video

The interviewer asked me to say something positive about Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. It had been an excellent run and I was happy to oblige. I launched into an answer, stumbled over my words and asked them to stop filming.

I had a second go at it. This time I nailed it. I felt confident that they’d be delighted with my off-the-cuff effort about the run and how much I’d enjoyed being in Dushanbe.

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The next morning the piece was shown on television and one of my fellow runners (Dilbar – thank you!) posted it on Facebook. When I watched it, I realised that the bit of the interview they’d used was me messing up my original answer and asking them to cut.  Not my most professional bit of media work but, hey ho, I’m very grateful for the coverage of Run the World (Bobby – thank you!)

Here’s a link to some of the coverage (don’t worry – there’s footage of all of us running and not just my interview)  :

As already mentioned, it was a great run. There were about 20 of us at the start.  A mixture of running club members and hashers, locals and expats. Jace, who is both Religious Adviser to the local Hash and a leading light in the running club, led the way. More than ably assisted by Bobby on a bike with his sound system blaring out ‘Eye of the Tiger’.

We ran by the river for a while, with the TV crew filming us at regular intervals, before circumnavigating the man made Komsomolsee (aka Lake Hyatt). From there we ran to Rudaki Park which contains a remarkable rose garden, various museums and the world’s 2nd tallest flagpole. (The tallest is in Jeddah and third tallest, which I remember running round during an epic rainstorm, is in Baku.)

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As luck would have it, the British Embassy (who’d also been a great help with the run) were hosting a function that evening and we were all invited. Which was very good of them. (And very brave since inviting a group of hashers to a post run party is pretty much a guarantee that the beer will run out…)

Anyway, having finished our run, we variously jogged and walked up to Bundes Restobar where the aforementioned interview also took place. I think it’s fair to say that everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves – as you can probably tell by comparing the post run photo below with the pre-run shot at the top of the blog. (I also had the pleasure of catching up with Raul whom I’d last seen in a bar in Baku.)

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It just remains for me to thank Bobby (not just for the everything in Tajikistan but also for the help in Almaty and Bishkek), Shuhrat, Jonathan, Jace, Raul and all my fellow runners for the company, the hospitality and the donations. I had a great time in Dushanbe and hope to see you all in London one of these days – perhaps for the UK leg of Run the World on July 4th 2020!

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Finally, thank you to the local Hyatt. Not only was the standard of accommodation much higher than I’m used to but I’d had to get up at 1.15 am UK time for my flight to Dushanbe and the early check-in saved my day!

Please like Run the World on Facebook to receive notification of future blogs and news about runs, races and running clubs across the world. And also just to show your support because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!

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Run 142 : Uzbekistan – Tashkent

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If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research :

Date : 7th  May, 2018

Time :  1h 09’ 57”

Number of runners : 10

Total distance run to date : 1420 km

Run map and details :

Media: ;

On the morning of my day in Tashkent, I had the pleasure of talking to 150 junior school students at the local British International School.

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Unfortunately there wasn’t much time for Q & A so I was invited to come and do a follow up session with Y 5. These Q & A sessions tend to cover a lot of ground including personal questions such as “How old are you?” and “Are you married?”

This time, one of the students asked me something I don’t usually get asked, “Have you ever done gymnastics?” As it happens, the answer is ‘yes’.

Prior to running round the world, my previous challenge had been to do every different Olympic and Paralympic event. Which meant that I’d done a number of gymnastics sessions including one at Lilleshall with Louis Smith, multiple Olympic and World Championship medallist – and 2012 Strictly Come Dancing winner.

Now it also happens that I was spectacularly bad at gymnastics and that, sadly for me, some of this was filmed and included in a short video about my then challenge. If you like watching someone making a complete fool of themselves – and Y 5 certainly seemed to –  then its recommended viewing.

A number of teachers from the school were then good enough to join the run that evening. Together with a contingent from the British Embassy, there were ten of us at the start. As recently as a year ago such a group wouldn’t have been able to run together without official permission.

However, as part of Uzbekistan’s recent liberalisation, running in a group is no longer an issue and we were able to enjoy what can only be described as an extremely pleasant run along the banks of the canal. It was a beautiful evening, it was the first run on this trip so my legs weren’t aching, and my fellow runners – including Matt B who’s completed an extraordinary 46000 mile cycle round the world – were excellent company.

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After the run some of us went for a meal at a traditional Uzbek restaurant. As we tucked into the local dishes – including the Khan’s kebab which involved lots of barbecued meat – we were suddenly enveloped by a cloud of smoke.

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Taking this in our stride (hope you like the running metaphor), we continued our conversation about Tamerlane, or Amir Temur as he’s known in Uzbekistan. Did you know that he hailed from Uzbekistan? And conquered a territory bigger than Genghis Khan’s? Resulting in the deaths of an estimated 17 million – about 5% of the world’s then population? I must admit I didn’t – but it’s a fair bet that the students I talked to in the morning know all this because he is something of a national hero in Uzbekistan.

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Suddenly a huge, wailing fire engine pulled up at the restaurant. Followed by two more. It turned out that our restaurant’s kitchen was on fire. Very possibly as the result of the Khan’s kebab.

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In a manner which Jo compared to the famous scene in ‘Carry On Up the Khyber’ – where the Brits display the true meaning of a stiff upper lip and carry on with dinner as the bullets fly around them – we continued with our meal as if nothing was happening.

A memorable end to a great day in Tashkent.

It just remains for me to thank my fellow runners for their company and their donations. And special thanks to Jo for organising the run, to Matt W for inviting me to the school, and to Matt B for his advice and contacts. I hope to see you all in London on July 4th 2020 for the UK leg of Run the World!

Please like / follow Run the World on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter because it would be great to stay in touch and because, however silly it may sound, it makes all the travel and running that little bit easier if you think people care!

Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked Central Asian Sovereign state. It is a secularunitary constitutional republic. Uzbekistan is bordered by five landlocked countries: Kazakhstan to the north; Kyrgyzstan to the northeast; Tajikistan to the southeast; Afghanistan to the south; and Turkmenistan to the southwest.

What is now Uzbekistan was in ancient times part of the Iranian-speaking region of Transoxiana. The area was incorporated into the Persian Empire and, after a period of Macedonian Greek rule, was ruled mostly by Persian dynasties until the Muslim conquest in the 7th century, turning the majority of the population towards Islam. During this period, cities such as Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara began to grow rich from the Silk Road. The local Khwarezmian dynasty, and Central Asia as a whole, were decimated by the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. After the Mongol Conquests, the area became increasingly dominated by Turkic peoples. The city of Shahrisabz was the birthplace of the Turco-Mongol warlord Timur, also known as one of Ghangis Khan grandchild, who in the 14th century established the Timurid Empire and was proclaimed the Supreme Emir of Turan with his capital in Samarkand. The area was conquered by Uzbek Shaybanids in the 16th century, moving the centre of power from Samarkand to Bukhara. It was gradually incorporated into the Russian Empire during the 19th century, with Tashkent becoming the political center of Russian Turkestan. In 1924, after national delimitation, the constituent republic of the Soviet Union known as the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic was created. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, it declared independence as the Republic of Uzbekistan on 31 August 1991.

Uzbekistan has a diverse cultural heritage due to its storied history and strategic location. Its official language is Uzbek, a Turkic language written in the Latin alphabet and spoken natively by approximately 85% of the population. Russian has widespread use; it is the most widely taught second language. Uzbeks constitute 81% of the population, followed by Russians (5.4%), Tajiks (4.0%), Kazakhs (3.0%), and others (6.5%). Muslims constitute 79% of the population while 5% of the population follow Russian Orthodox Christianity, and 16% of the population follow other religions or are non-religious. A majority of Uzbeks are non-denominational Muslims.  While officially a democratic republic,[15] by 2008 non-governmental human rights organizations defined Uzbekistan as “an authoritarian state with limited civil rights”.

Following the death of Islam Karimov in 2016, the second president – Shavkat Mirziyoyev started a new course, which was described as a A Quiet Revolution and Revolution from Above. He stated he intended to abolish cotton slavery, systematic use of child labour, exit visas, to introduce a tax reform, create four new free economic zones, as well as amnestied some political prisoners. The relations with neighboring countries of TajikistanKyrgyzstan, and Afghanistan drastically improved. However, the Amnesty International report on human rights in the country for 2017/2018 described continued repressive measures, including forced labour in cotton harvesting, and restrictions on movements of ‘freed’ prisoners.

The Uzbek economy is in a gradual transition to the market economy, with foreign trade policy being based on import substitution. In September 2017, the country’s currency became fully convertible in the market rates. Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of cotton. The country also operates the largest open-pit gold mine in the world. With the gigantic power-generation facilities of the Soviet era and an ample supply of natural gas, Uzbekistan has become the largest electricity producer in Central Asia. Renewable energy constitutes more than 23% of the country’s energy sector, with hydroelectricity and solar energy having 21.4% and 2% respectively.

TImur  (9 April 1336 – 18 February 1405), historically known as Amir Timur and Tamerlane was a Turco-Mongol conqueror. As the founder of the Timurid Empire in Persia and Central Asia, he became the first ruler in the Timurid dynasty.

Born into the Barlas confederation in Transoxiana (in modern-day Uzbekistan) on 9 April 1336, Timur gained control of the western Chagatai Khanate by 1370. From that base he led military campaigns across WesternSouth and Central Asia, the Caucasus and southern Russia, and emerged as the most powerful ruler in the Muslim world after defeating the Mamluks of Egypt and Syria, the emerging Ottoman Empire, and the declining Delhi Sultanate. From these conquests he founded the Timurid Empire, but this empire fragmented shortly after his death.

Timur envisioned the restoration of the Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan (died 1227). According to Beatrice Forbes Manz, ” He justified his Iranian, Mamluk, and Ottoman campaigns as a re-imposition of legitimate Mongol control over lands taken by usurpers”  To legitimize his conquests, Timur relied on Islamic symbols and language, referred to himself as the “Sword of Islam”, and patronized educational and religious institutions. Timur decisively defeated the Christian Knights Hospitaller at the Siege of Smyrna, styling himself a ghazi. By the end of his reign, Timur had gained complete control over all the remnants of the Chagatai Khanate, the Ilkhanate, and the Golden Horde, and even attempted to restore the Yuan dynasty in China.

Timur’s armies were inclusively multi-ethnic and were feared throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe, sizable parts of which his campaigns laid to waste. Scholars estimate that his military campaigns caused the deaths of 17 million people, amounting to about 5% of the world population at the time.

World Bank Data

Here’s the latest World Bank data for Uzbekistan – with the year 2000 as a comparison.

GDP                                               $67.1bn      2016        $13.8bn       2000

Population                                   31.8m          2016       24.7m           2000

Primary school enrolment*      101%           2016        99%              2000

CO2 Emissions**                        3.4               2016         4.9               2000

% below poverty line***           14%            2013        15%              2012

Life expectancy at birth             71.3 yrs       2016        67.2 yrs       2000

GNI per capita                             $2220          2016        $630            2000

*Percentage can exceed 100% due to the inclusion of over and under aged students

** Metric tons per capita

***The World Bank notes that the methodology can vary between countries and over time within a given country. (While much of the World Bank data generally follows understandable trends, this number often oscillates wildly suggesting that different methodologies are frequently used over time within a given country.)

Greatest Sporting Nation Data

Finally, here’s the data from Greatest Sporting Nation on how  Uzbekistan performed in the global sporting arena in 2017:

Global Cup – 43rd

Per Capita Cup – 49th

The Global Cup aggregates results from over 1000 events across 80 sports to produce the definitive annual ranking of international sporting success. The Per Capita Cup uses the same data to produce an annual per capita ranking.


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