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Date : 2nd October, 2019
Time : 1h 05’ 01”
Number of runners (total to date) : 8 (6397)
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4120095588
It won’t have escaped your attention that relations between the West and Iran haven’t always been easy in recent times.
In fact relations have been so difficult that the US Embassy in Tehran has been closed since the Iran hostage crisis in 1979. (It’s unlikely to re-open any time soon as it now hosts the ‘US Den of Espionage Museum’ and its walls are covered with anti-US murals.)
In 2011 the British Embassy in Tehran was also closed after an attack on the Embassy and on Gholhack Garden – the British compound in northern Tehran. (In an odd symmetry readers may recall that the Iranian Embassy in London was closed in 1980. This happened after members of the Arabs of KSA group stormed the Embassy and took 26 embassy staff and visitors hostage. The SAS eventually freed the hostages.)
Fortunately for me, the British Embassy reopened in 2015. I say fortunately because it meant we could run in Gholhack Garden which is a huge (50 acre) space containing gardens (obvs), the Tehran War Cemetery, various buildings (some in use and some derelict), an abundance of bird life, foxes and views to the surrounding mountains. Plus, of course, plenty of room to run.
There were eight of us at the start of the run and, led by Ambassador Rob Macaire, we set off for 7 or 8 laps of the compound.
As well as being a wonderful refuge from the hustle and bustle of Tehran, the Garden also gives you a good work out. Partly because it contains a slope or two and partly because it’s at c 1500 metres. Which is a high enough to feel the altitude and leave you a touch breathless.
But not so breathless that it stopped us having a good chat. Now if you’re hoping that this means I can reveal anything exciting about the issues currently plaguing the aforementioned relations – attacks on the Saudi Arabian oil installations ; nuclear programmes ; detained tankers ; economic sanctions – then you’re going to be sadly disappointed.
However, I can tell you that the conversations confirmed what my tour company (Untamed Borders) had told me: Iran is a beautiful country with extremely friendly and hospitable people. There are times when it’s a great shame that I only spend enough time in each country to run 10 km.
On which subject, back to the run. Not everyone finished the full 10 km – turns out that ‘running with crazy Brit’ wasn’t the only thing on the Ambassador’s to do list – but the three of us who did finished with the now traditional minute’s plank.
It just remains for me to say a huge thank you to Ambassador Rob Macaire, all my fellow runners, Amin, James, Freya and the local team* from Untamed Borders. I’d love to see you in London on 4th July 2020 for the UK, and final, leg of Run the World!
*anonymous by request
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Facts & Stats
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.
Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With 82 million inhabitants, Iran is the world’s 18th most populous country. Its territory spans 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), making it the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. Its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the political and economic center of Iran, and the largest and most populous city in Western Asia with more than 8.8 million residents in the city and 15 million in the larger metropolitan area.
Arab Muslims conquered the empire in the seventh century CE, and the subsequent Islamization of Iran led to the decline of the once dominant Zoroastrian religion. Iran’s major contributions to art, philosophy, and science spread throughout the Muslim world and beyond during the Islamic Golden Age. Over the next two centuries, a series of native Muslim dynasties emerged before the Seljuq Turks and the Ilkhanate Mongols conquered the region. The rise of the native Safavids in the 15th century led to the reestablishment of a unified Iranian state and national identity with the country’s conversion to Shia Islam marking a turning point in Iranian and Muslim history.
Under Nader Shah, Iran was one of the most powerful states in the 18th century, though by the 19th century, a series of conflicts with the Russian Empire led to significant territorial losses. The Persian Constitutional Revolution in the early 20th century created a constitutional monarchy and the country’s first legislature. A 1953 coup instigated by the United Kingdom and the United States resulted in greater autocratic rule under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and growing Western political influence. A far-reaching series of reforms known as the White Revolution was launched by the Shah in 1963, prompting industrial growth, land reforms, and increased women’s rights. Nevertheless, widespread dissatisfaction and unrest against the monarchy persisted, leading to the Iranian Revolution, which established the current Islamic Republic. For most of the 1980s, Iran fought a war with Iraq that resulted in severe casualties and economic devastation for both sides.
Iran’s political system has elements of a presidential democracy with a theocracy governed by an autocratic “Supreme Leader“. It has been described as authoritarian, with significant constraints and abuses against human rights.
Iran is a founding member of the UN, ECO, NAM, OIC, and OPEC. It is a major regional and middle power, and its large reserves of fossil fuels—including the world’s largest natural gas supply and the fourth largest proven oil reserves – exert considerable influence in international energy security and the world economy. The country’s rich cultural legacy is reflected in part by its 22 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the third largest number in Asia and 11th largest in the world. Historically a multi-ethnic country, Iran remains a pluralistic society comprising numerous ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups, the largest being Persians, Azeris, Kurds, Mazandaranis and Lurs
World Bank Data
Here’s the latest World Bank data for Iran – with the year 2000 as a comparison.
|GDP||$454 bn||2018||$110 bn||2000|
|Population||81.8 m||2018||65.6 m||2000|
|Primary school enrolment*||111%||2017||101%||2000|
|% below poverty line***||NA||NA|
|Life expectancy at birth||76.3 yrs||2017||70.2 yrs||2000|
|GNI per capita||$5 470||2017||$1 760||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 Iran performed in the global sporting arena in 2018:
Global Cup – 32nd
Per Capita Cup – 46th
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.