I tested the theory that running barefoot was possible by doing 2.5k around my local rubbery track. Well, the plan was five, but two huge blisters circling the balls of my feet slowed me down. Dismayed but determined, I tried again a week later in Vorontsovsky Park. No issue. Conclusion – going uber-pace around four corners of a hot track was a bad way to start. All is possible.
It didn’t matter, anyway, as I had already paid the 1300 roubles registration (a bit steep, but they said it was due to it being hosted for the first time and a lack of big sponsors).
Arriving on race day, I was unsurprised by the Soviet chic. The thatched roof houses did throw me for one a bit, though. A bizarre mix of eras.
Although we were promised the grounds would be scoured for glass and such, right next to the shoe-drop I casually stepped around a few shards. No one seemed bothered. No one was hurt. This supports a general policy around Russia – don’t depend on signs and watch where you’re going.
As for the course, it was half in the woods, and half through some fields – lovely grass or packed ground (no glass to speak of). The downs seemed much harder than the ups for some reason, but all told no injury or areas that were too tough on the feet. There was a lot of adrenalin and a herd feeling about it, for sure… the slappy slap of tender human feet on packed ground dashing through the woods (watching Planet of the Apes: Revolution last night probably had some influence on this. Terrible film, by the way).
Generally speaking, a great event and experience that I’d do again in a heartbeat. Something I’ll try to develop in my running schedule, too. If you have a running bone in your body, give it a try. Very natural. A good analysis of the body dynamics can be found here (Harvard). Or some reading in from the science journal, Nature.