June 04, 2021

Russia Goes Running



Russia Goes Running
The St. Petersburg race started in Palace Square, the "very heart of the city." Amanda Shirnina

The whole country went running on Sunday, May 30, with a simultaneous half-marathon in 85 cities. With more than 150,000 participants, ZaBeg (ForRunning or Race) claims to be the world's largest synchronized race.

The race was a half-marathon for "pros" (21.1 kilometers; 13.1 miles), but runners could choose more reasonable distances of one ("junior"), five ("newcomer"), or ten ("amateur") kilometers (0.6, 3.1, or 6.2 miles).

Many competitors ran in yellow "ONE RUN" (in English) t-shirts.

Cities competed for the title of "runningest city" – based on the ratio of runners to the total population of the city, the average running speed, and the average distance. In order for a city to participate in the race "offline," it had to register at least 100 runners first.

This is the race's fifth year. Last year, with "only" 64 cities, Russia broke the Guinness Book of Records record held by the United States for the largest number of cities synchronously running. All Russians started the dash at 9:00 am Moscow time. That must have been fun for Chukotkans.

The organizers pointed out that, in the past, races had to have big-name runners to get people to watch. Now, the spectacle is enough due to the efforts of the "League of Heroes" to enhance sports consumption and the increasing popularity of healthy living.

It is not only lifestyles that are changing. After the race, organizers will allocate 500,000 rubles to tree planting and forest restoration in Russia.

The winning man was Andrei Leiman with a half-marathon time of 1 hour, 7 minutes, 26.3 seconds. The winning woman was Anna Garbar, whose time was apparently not worth sharing.

And yes, everybody got a medal just for participating (including the author). Soviet sports commandants are rolling over in their graves.

St. Petersburg race
St. Petersburg's race went past the Peter-Paul Fortress and Artillery Museum. Quite a scenic route! | Amanda Shirnina

 

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