12 February 2012

Running blue

A couple of weeks ago I did a virtual race, the Freeze Your Thorns Off 5K, and this weekend there was another virtual event to take part in. It was organised by one of my very best Internet friends whom I have never met - Beth, who blogs about her running exploits under the name Shut Up + Run, a name I wish I'd thought of ... As much of the wordwide running community knows, a lady in the US called Sherry Arnold was abducted and murdered a few weeks ago when she was out on her morning run, and it's a tragedy, an atrocity, that has shocked and moved runners everywhere - and non-runners too, I am sure. So yesterday Beth had organised a virtual run for Sherry.

I did my best. There is currently a cold snap in Moscow, and as it's usually supposed to be cold snap means minus 25 centigrade. And this is relevent because I was in Moscow for the weekend - looking forward to another lap of the Bulvarnoye Kol'tso, which I didn't quite manage in October when I took a wrong turn and found myself heading to Red Square when I didn't quite intend to. The virtual run was supposed to be 9am in Colorado, but I had to go about 7am in a very different time zone. I put on as much clothing as was compatible with running - compression tights plus ordinary leggings, long-sleeved top plus fleece, green hat and green gloves, Buff pulled up over my mouth and nose - and headed out of the hotel and north along the canal to the bridge that would take me to the Boulevard Ring.

It was dark enough to feel it was a good idea to give the Knuckle Lights a first outing, and they were brilliant in every sense of the word - more on them later. I didn't put my Yak Trax on, despite having bought them specially to ensure that running in the Moscow winter was a possibility: there wasn't enough snow to merit it (there was by this morning, but there was no time to run). Passing a runner on the embankment - I thought briefly about turning round and trying to run in company, and surely this must have been another mad foreigner rather than a native although a chance to use my few words or Russian might have been a welcome diversion - I crossed the canal bridge, then reached the bridge over the Moscow River. In the middle I stopped to record the fact that I'd run at all this morning ...

... and you can see the Kremlin in the distance. You can't however see my "Running for Sherry" bib, which is one of the limits of self-photography. In particular, I found self-photography in minus 20 degrees or whatever it was - I wasn't counting, but even in the daytime it was said to be that cold, so at 7 o'clock in the morning it was probably even colder - a big challenge. Thin running gloves turn out to be no use in these conditions: the rest of me was OK but my fingers were already painful before I took my gloves off to work the camera in my BlackBerry (which, as BlackBerrys do, decided this was a good time to display a little clock symbol and refuse to obey commands, so i couldn't review the photo). Anyway, I secured the photographic evidence and decided that the Boulevard Ring, including the Vissotsky memorial and the statue of Peter the Great, could wait until another time.

I never knew Sherry Arnold, of course, but - like many people, no doubt - I feel a close association with her now. What happened to her is appalling, and the fact that it happened to a fellow runner in the course of the pastime that we all enjoy makes it even worse than appalling. I'm pleased to have been able to do a little to ensure she is remembered. But by then I had had enough, and headed back to the warmth of my hotel.

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