Hot Winds

Running is back on the menu. Let’s blame Mr. Macpherson for this suffer fest returning to my life. Well, thanks is probably in order, but deep down all runners know it’s a masochistic art. 17 miles I ran yesterday—for…fun?? Yes. Fun. And training.

Montreal marathon is Sept. 25 and a sub 4-hour job would tickle my cockles. Whatever that means.

That was the furthest I’d run in minimalist shoes. Yes, I’m a minimaler. Born to run in nothing but me body.

Hot Winds is the team name. Running the Maraton Des Sables in 2019 is our game. Big web presence in the pipeline. Wait for it…


Running, Travel

Music Half Marathon, Moscow

“All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.”

~ Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I was inspired by Murakami in the run-up to my first marathon in 2010.  First, his literature was gripping and full of an indescribable tension, like love or balancing a spoon on your nose – difficult to do right, playful and mildly exhibitionist.  Second, his take on running in the above-mentioned book was right up my street. I had visions of taking on a marathon every year for the rest of my mortal days in his honor.  A mysterious Moscovian illness kept me from my third back in 2012, but I’ve been planning the comeback ever since.  For the time being, I’ll suffice to run two half marathons in a season.  The first of which being…

The Music Half Marathon in Moscow, organized by Adidas, was a splendid event.  Materials in English, pace runners, whacky-wigged, high-fiving supporters (volunteers), live music/DJs the whole way, excellent medals, and a view of some of Moscow’s most historic sites to help shape your own ‘homemade void’.

Moscow route

Pretty flat, out and half-way back route from Luzhniki Stadium to the Kremlin.

There was the usual stone-faced police folk lining the route, but past the noticeable lack of public support, it could have been an event organized anywhere in the Western world.  I ran the 2011 Adidas half marathon  (the first clip shows the outrageous registration line and later you can see many of the 90 degree turns in the race.) and the organizational quality was night and day. Very happy to see the improvements over time…

It was the first time I’d run that far in the Merrell Barefoot shoes since I bought them last summer. I’d like to think that the epic calf cramps I got towards the end of the race were not associated with them, but maybe others can attest to such happenings… They could have also been down to the cold wind and rain that pelted the last few kilometers, but one can never know.

Wet, but happy to have finished. Total – 1:41 (unofficial).

Wet, but happy to have finished. Total – 1:41 (unofficial).

The second half marathon will be a sojourn to Yaroslavl in mid-September. Hopefully I’ll be able to connect with some Burlington-Yaroslavl Sister City people, too.

I’ve seen far too little of the “Golden Ring” towns, so ticking off some UNESCO World Heritage vistas will be a treat for the ‘homemade void’.


Photos, Running

Barefoot 5K Race – Босоногий забег

All the kit you need.

All the kit you need.

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.

22:09 finish (unofficial).

22:09 finish (unofficial).