Run 146 : Turkmenistan – Ashgabat

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Date : 12th  May, 2018

Time :  1h 15’ 10”

Number of runners : 20

Total distance run to date : 1460 km

Run map and details :  https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/2696705161

Media : https://www.facebook.com/UnitedNationsinTurkmenistan/

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!

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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 - https://www.justgiving.com/Dan-Thompson11/ - then I know they'd be very grateful.
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