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Date : 9th May, 2018
Time : 54’ 54”
Number of runners : 34
Total distance run to date : 1440 km
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2696704908
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.
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.
The run had been organised by Marina and Dimitri from I Love Supersort
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
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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