Monday, 5 March 2012
Reflections on Baikal
I'm spending a day in Irkutsk, the Paris of Siberia. I'm yet to find any similarity and have retreated to my room in the face of snow and body numbing cold. Sightseeing at -20 is a hurried affair. Those of us left at Baikal this morning realised how lucky we had been on Saturday. We think it was around -14 at the start, but warmed up considerably in the sun to around -4. Today was overcast with a distinct breeze and as I took my last walk out onto the lake I realised that in these conditions we would have been so much slower. So cold it slows everything down including your thinking. It's been a great adventure to a place not many have been - and even fewer in winter, with only hundreds having ever crossed the lake in one go on foot. Apart from the experience of the run, the most interesting thing has been to meet the other runners. I feel that the world is leaving me behind and more importantly many of our brightest and best from younger generations. These people are internationalists, living and working all over the world wherever opportunity exists, speaking three, four languages fluently, covering all continents as a matter of course. So many from all nations including UK live in Moscow, they all speak english, many love UK - but few see it, not even London, as a main centre for business. It is another place to do business - but the world grows elsewhere. I fear too many of us are too insular and believe in an importance that others no longer see. I can also now categorize marathon runners better. Most of my marathon friends are what I would call multi-marathoners. They do lots of marathons. They make my 18 last year look decidedly ordinary as they routinely clock up 30 or more year in year out. Yet out here these people are all adventure marathoners. They seek out real adventure, they like to go to remote and extreme places. They are all good extreme condition runners - yet they cannot believe I did 18 in a year, let alone 10 in 10 days. Take my good friend Ignacio from Barcelona - he has done 2 marathons. Greenland and Baikal! And this sort of pattern is not unusual. Philip, Trevor, Ignacio, Maybrit, Geoff - and everyone else, I hope we shall meet again somewhere, someday. I seem to fall between the two categories - but I'm comfortable with that. Over the coming days when I get home I will post some videos and photos which will speak for themselves. Do keep reading. Thanks to everyone who has supported me, and to all who have donated to Target Ovarian Cancer. I know just how very grateful they are to you - I'm just glad that I've given you an excuse to give a little to them. Thanks to Alexei and Lisa from Absolute Siberia - your passion for Baikal is wonderful, and your organisation first class and welcoming. It has been a privilege to visit you. I do feel that I have pushed to new limits, it has been an outstanding experience.