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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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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3 Responses to Run 142 : Uzbekistan – Tashkent

  1. Pingback: Run 144 : Kazakhstan – Almaty | dansgoldchallenge

  2. Danielle says:

    Great blog! I really enjoyed your gymnastics videos! 🙂

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