Run 123 : Estonia – Tallinn

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Please give generously to Cancer Research :

Date : 13th September, 2017

Time :  1h 6’52”

Total distance run to date : 1230 km

Run map and details :

A man walks into a bar with a Teddy Bear, a Necklace, a Cucumber, some Stains, Cinderella, a Sniffer and a Virgin.

That may sound like the opening line of a joke but was actually the scene towards midnight one rainy night in Tallinn. For the members of the Tallinn Hash Run no. 678 (names modified to protect readers’ sensibilities) were in town and it was time for the dreaded jellyfish ordeal.

Hang on, hang on. How on earth did we get here?!? This is meant to be a blog about running!

Let’s roll back a few hours. To when someone on the run, I think it was Sniffer, asked me, through mouthfuls of rain, how I recover between daily runs. “Lots of stretching, plenty of sleep, sensible food and minimal alcohol,” had been my answer. Wise words that I could, and should, have followed.

And why was I splashing through the sodden Estonian landscape talking to a man called Sniffer? Let’s roll back a couple more hours to the beginning.

After 3 hours of wondering round Tallinn I’d made it to the agreed meeting point near Depoo (picture below).Though Dewee might have been more appropriate given the weather. (Obviously I am normally above such ‘humour’ but there’s something about spending an evening with hashers…)

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My legs were knackered from all the walking around and begging me not to go on my 5th run in 4 days. But all that was quickly forgotten as soon as I met Grand Master Stains, Teddy Bear and Cucumber from the Helsinki Hashers, and the rest of the Tallinn Hash House Harriers – motto “Small, but low quality”.

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At this point, it may be worth stopping for a minute to fill in the gaps for those who know nothing about the Hash House Harriers. They like to describe themselves as a drinking club with a running problem and that should give you a fairly good idea of what they’re all about.

You should probably also be aware that members are given hash names (as you may have gathered from the opening paragraph). These are frequently, but not always, a touch too bawdy for a family blog such as this one.

I’ve previously run with hashers in AzerbaijanThailand and Ghana (the latter blog is worth reading if you’re interested in the history and genealogy of hashing). They all combine running with having a good time but there are significant differences between ‘kennels’. Some are family friendly and some, like the Tallinn Hash, are a little more, shall we say, traditional.

Back to the run. At first, it was a normal hash. The hares had laid a trail of flour and we followed this as best we could in the unremitting downpour. After about 20 minutes most of the group decided to swap a wet outside and a dry inside for a dry outside and a wet inside. In short, they went for a beer. A sensible response to the appalling conditions.

I would have loved to have joined them but I had a 10km to run and I was fortunate that two of the group stayed with me. So the three of us strode on, getting wetter and wetter, and talking about anything and everything – including recovery routines – to keep our minds off the all-pervading water. Eventually, thankfully, we got to the 10km point and were able to join the others.

Who had been in a bar but were now back outside in the elements for the circle.

Now I could tell you all about the initiation ceremony, the x rated songs and the various traditions of the circle.  And why the man in the picture below – who always runs in black and vapes a lot – was given the name Darth Vaper. But what goes in the circle, stays in the circle. So I won’t. What I can tell you is that it was both a good laugh and a bit of an eye-opener….

rtw estonia 2

A meal and some rehydration followed before it was time to make our way to the aforementioned bar. Which is something of an institution in Tallinn. (Famously, when Microsoft bought Skype (Skype’s software was developed in Estonia), Steve Ballmer et al went there to celebrate the deal.)

The bar was small, packed and atmospheric. A man was playing ‘Lili Marleen’ on the accordion and the odd couple were dancing in the remaining few square feet of space.

rtw estonia 19

Even better, Spurs had taken a 3 -1 lead against Dortmund in the Champions league. Exciting news which I made sure to share with the remaining hashers – to a generally nonplussed response.

What better time to down the millimallikas or ‘jellyfish’ – a vicious concoction of Sambuca, vodka, tabasco and tequila.


Several beers were needed to wash away the aftertaste.

rtw estonia 1

It won’t be great surprise to hear that I got to bed at about 2am before waking up at 6 am, dehydrated and heady. A perfect preparation for my run in Helsinki later that day.

But that’s for another blog. For now, I just want to say a huge thank you and ‘terviseks’ to Stains and the Tallinn and Helsinki hashers for a memorable evening, a soaking wet run and a generous donation to cancer research.

On on!

Facts & Stats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.

Estonia is a country in the Baltic region of Northern and Eastern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia (343 km), and to the east by Lake Peipus and Russia (338.6 km). The territory of Estonia consists of a mainland and 2,222 islands in the Baltic Sea, covering 45,339 km2 (17,505 sq mi) of land and water, and is influenced by a humid continental climate. Ethnic Estonians are a Finnic people, sharing close cultural ties with their northern neighbour, Finland, and the official language, Estonian, is a Finno-Ugric language closely related to Finnish and the Sami languages, and distantly to Hungarian.

The territory of Estonia has been inhabited since at least 6500 BC, with Finno-Ugric speakers – the linguistic ancestors of modern Estonians – arriving no later than around 1800 BC. Following centuries of successive German, Danish, Swedish, and Russian rule, Estonians experienced a national awakening that culminated in independence from the Russian Empire towards the end of World War I on 24 February 1918. After its successful democratic rule, the Era of Silence had made Estonia increasingly autocratic. During World War II, Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, then by Nazi Germany a year later and was again annexed by the Soviets in 1944, after which it was reconstituted as the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic. Following the loss of its de facto independence, a government in exile functioned. In 1988, during the Singing Revolution, the Estonian Supreme Soviet issued the Estonian Sovereignty Declaration in defiance of Soviet rule, and independence was restored on 20 August 1991. Since restoration of its independence, Estonia is a democratic unitary parliamentary republic divided into fifteen counties. Its capital and largest city is Tallinn. With a population of 1.3 million, it is one of the least-populous member states of the European UnionEurozoneNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), OECD and Schengen Area.

Estonia is a developed country with an advanced, high-income economy that as of 2011 is among the fastest growing in the EU. Its Human Development Index ranks very highly, and it performs favourably in measurements of economic freedomcivil liberties and press freedom (3rd in the world in 2012 and 2007). The 2015 PISA test places Estonian high school students 3rd in the world, behind Singapore and Japan. Citizens of Estonia are provided with universal health carefree education and the longest paid maternity leave in the OECD. Since independence the country has rapidly developed its IT sector, becoming one of the world’s most digitally advanced societies. In 2005 Estonia became the first nation to hold elections over the Internet, and in 2014 the first nation to provide E-residency.

Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, and occupies an area of 159.2 km2 (61.5 sq mi) and has a population of 446,055.

Due to its strategic location, the city became a major trade hub, especially from the 14th to the 16th century, when it grew in importance as part of the Hanseatic League.

Tallinn’s Old Town is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tallinn is the major political, financial, cultural and educational center of Estonia. Often dubbed the Silicon Valley of Europe, it has the highest number of startups per person in Europe and is a birthplace of many international companies, including Skype. The city is to house the headquarters of the European Union’s IT agency.


World Bank Data

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

GDP                                               $23.1 bn    2016      $5.69 bn   2000

Population                                   1.32 m       2016       1.40 m     2000

Primary school enrolment*      98.4%        2015       103%      2000

% below poverty line**             21.8%        2013      NA

Life expectancy at birth            77.1 yrs      2015      70.4 yrs    2000

GNI per capita                             $17750      2016      $4150       2004

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

**The World Bank notes that the methodology can vary between countries and over time within a given country. (While most 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  Estonia performed in the global sporting arena in 2016:

Global Cup – 76th

Per Capita Cup – 16th

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.


About Run the World

I'm running 10 km in every country in the world - a total of 205 countries - by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. I'm doing the Run the World challenge to promote the benefits of sport and physical activity and to raise money for cancer research following the death of my mother from cancer. If you'd like to donate to Cancer Research - - then I know they'd be very grateful.
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6 Responses to Run 123 : Estonia – Tallinn

  1. Mara says:

    Glad to hear you are getting into local traditions -perhaps a bit too much?

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