The race begins! Image from vl.ru news.

Vladivostok Ice Run
Organized by RunDNSRun
Most club runs cost 0-1000 rubles to join

The first annual Vladivostok Ice Run took place this weekend on February 21, 2016. A friend of mine, a volunteer organizer of the race, told me about the event two weeks ago. Although most of my exercise has been limited to the weight room of late, I still leaped at the opportunity to experience this unique run.

In the week leading up to the race, my connection with the volunteers allowed me to get some training in on the actual course and even get an interview (in Russian!) with a local news outlet.

I have competed in races in the past, but as the name might imply, this race takes place entirely on one of Vladivostok’s frozen bays. The runners started arriving in the morning to an upbeat emcee and performances by local singers and dance groups. Various local news crews were busy interviewing participants and getting footage of the warm-up activities. I had hoped for some sunny weather with slightly less frigid temperatures for the race. And, while the sun began to peek out in the afternoon, we had a strong breeze to bring the wind-chill back down to well below freezing.

The Ice Run’s slogan was “honor for the brave” because it was held on February 23, Defenders of the Fatherland Day, a national holiday in Russia that recognizes the men who have served in the Russian army. Almost 400 runners came out for the event. One could compete in the distance of 5 kilometer, 10 kilometer, or half marathon categories. I competed in the 10k category, and my track covered a 5k distance out and then the same route on the return.

The ice surface itself is, of course, very slick for running. But recent snowfall helped by creating a thick coating of snow over the top of the ice. My position in the middle of the pack was ideal because the vanguard runners made a well-packed path in the snow for the rest of us. Some sections of the course were bare ice, however, and it certainly is a different experience to not have sure footing on a completely flat surface.

Vladivostok Ice Run

Vladivostok Ice Run

The first half of the race, I was running into the wind, which not only makes each step just a little bit harder, it also makes it feel much colder. The temperature in the afternoon was at 24ºF, but the wind chill brought it down to about 15ºF. Tables set up along the way with hot tea and quick foods were a welcome way to warm up.

During the second half of the race I met a 50 year-old, Polish-born lawyer who now makes his home in Vladivostok. With the wind at our backs, running felt a lot easier. We kept equal pace and had a good conversation on the way to the finish line, where we crossed together. Making new friends takes the mind off burning legs and lungs, and it made a very memorable finish to the race.

After the race, everyone congratulated each other and took photos while we waited for the half marathoners to come back in. The awards ceremony gave out sever hundred thousand Rubles to the victors of the various categories.

I definitely believe that the event was a big success for the organizers from Vladivostok’s running club, RunDNSRun. I would expect the Ice Run to become an annual competition. I absolutely recommend it.

Jonathan Rainey

Jonathan Rainey

Jonathan Rainey majored in History and English at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC. While at Francis Marion, he was a member of Phi Alpha Theta, National History Honors Society and worked as a reporter for The Patriot, the university's newspaper. Jonathan will be serving as an SRAS Home and Abroad Scholar in Vladivostok for the 2015-2016 school year. He is pictured here at Vladivostok's annual celebration of "Tiger Day."

Jonathan is attending Home and Abroad: Security
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