ICE MARATHON Clean Water Preservation Run

March trail report - 2015

пятница, 3 апреля 2015 г.

March trail report - extreme contrasts, exploration and adventure

March 2015 was an incredible month running wise.  I have completed a full marathon and a half marathon in totally contrasting conditions, explored new routes and ran a lot with friends, old and new.

March started off as a running adventure from day one, as the first day of spring was the day of Baikal ice marathon. Baikal ice marathon is run every spring on the ice of ancient lake Baikal in Siberia and the route crosses the lake from shore to shore. This year the marathon was held from the village of Tanhoy on the eastern shore of  Baikal to Listvyanka on the opposite side. I have written a report about the marathon in Russian earlier and here I will go over a quick recap in English. When we’ve arrived for the race the day before,  the weather was just beautiful with sun shining over the lake and no wind. 

The next day, just for the race, the weather has changed drastically with temperature dropping, really cold winds blowing and the snowstorm raging just to add to the «pleasure». Any volunteers to run a 42k in this weather?

Well, the time for the start was approaching and off we went having first completed a local 
ritual of sprinkling milk on the ice to cajole the spirits of the lake. For the first half the visibility was close to zero with heavy snowfall that made pushing off the ice almost impossible and my feet were sinking in the ankle-deep snow that felt like sand. Looking at the watch made me realize that running the first 21k took 3 hours. Longer, than a half on trails. I wanted to make the time limit of 6 hours - otherwise I’ve decided to enjoy the experience as much as it was possible at the moment.
Photo Maria Shalneva 

After the first half the snowstorm suddenly subsided and patches of clear ice appeared sometimes covered with a thin layer of snow. That was what I’ve expected the surface of the lake to be beforehand. Running felt nice and comfortable with spiky «Icebug» shoes giving good grip on the surface. At this moment of perfect running bliss I’ve heard Baikal talking. The experience was really intense as I’ve never heard this kind of sound before. The water of the great lake was moving underneath, the ice hitting it from within making a sound resembling a shaman’s drum or some musical instrument. The ice was sometimes cracking behind me and it felt a bit scary, as this year the ice was thinner than normally and it has settled later than usual. I felt thankful of being not alone at the moment but running together with a friend.

For the second part of the race the weather changed again a few time from clear to heavy mountain-like snowfall. About ten kilometers before the finish line it has finally cleared and the shoreline became visible. But as the finish line became closer Baikal prepared one more surprise - the wind grew stronger. It seemed like it was blowing from all directions making moving forward an ordeal. Struggling through the last 5k I have made it to the finish line just within the limit in 5.57. Not a fast time by any means, but a great adventure of a lifetime to remember. This year, by the way, the time limit was cancelled by the organizers for the first time in the 11 years of the marathon as the weather conditions were the harshest ever.

photo: Maria Shalneva
Getting back to Moscow, the month continued with some slow recovery runs and for some reason I have run an asphalt 4K on women’s day. Normally, I avoid running on asphalt by all means but this seemed like a fun run to do just for a speed check. I finished the 4K in 18mins which was really satisfying as I’m not a fast runner by any means. 
In March I had a few good runs on trails of Moscow’s Vorobyevy Gory and Neskuchny Sad parks. I’m lucky to live close to this green zone of the city with hilly trails and even a ski slope to practice uphills. We have a community of like-minded  runners "Vorobyevy Gory Trail Running Club"   on Facebook and we meet a couple of times a week in the evenings to run the trails. Sometimes we go for short runs with my kid. Training in good company is always a lot of fun!