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Russia 16 June: Valday - Veliky Novgorod

This Friday we started with some leapfrogging. One part of the team ran with kids from Valday, who we met yesterday. The other part went to Krestsy where we had a beautiful ceremony with the mayor, traditionally dressed children and a lot of other kids, who all held the torch. After the ceremony the mayor started the running and then the children ran with us out of the city.

From then on each runner ran 7 km at a time. As soon as one runner would start running, another runner was driven 7 km ahead where he or she would start running. In this way we covered 42 km in 2 hours and 7 minutes. Not bad!?

When I was running a car stopped spontaneously, a family stepped out and a boy hold the torch and ran with me. They drove a little further, then his grandparents took some pictures and finally the boy stopped where his mother stood. Of course I gave her the torch and she started to run.

Further on, the road became a real highway with 2 lanes and a green part in the middle. At this part we met the others from our team. Here we tried to show our skills in keeping a Hacky-Sack in the air with our feet. The Hacky-Sack is a little ball which is used like a football. I think we still have to practice a little bit, since we didn't manage to keep the ball going for more than a few seconds.

Later the scenery changed to the better and we passed a lot of beautiful lakes. Kostura, Olesya and Nataliya did some special running exercises and together we did a real frog-imitation-race. We had a short brake before we entered the city of Veliky Novgorod.

At the T-70 tank monument we met a couple just about getting married. A few hundred meters further was a bridge, and, as we already witnessed a few days ago, it seems like a Russian tradition for the husband to carry his bride over a bridge. After taking this picture we wished them good luck and all the best for the bridge.

After all the local runners had arrived, we set off for today's last stretch. In the traditional way we received bread and salt on the square right in front of the park where the city has it's eternal flame, in memory of the victims of WW2. We were invited to put flowers at the monument and afterwards we drove to our accommodation where we took a shower and waited eagerly for the dinner to be ready.

We are quite high up in the north, which means we have sun until after 11 p.m. and actually it does not even get really dark. That's nice on the one hand for evening activities, but on the other hand we are also happy to go to sleep to be fit for the next day. It feels funny, though, to go to bed while it's still light outside, reminds me somehow of my childhood...

Distance: 135km

Team Members:
Alexey Egorov (Russia), Andrea Kevei (Hungary), Janos Derekas (Hungary), Martin Leitner (Austria), Nataliya Lehonkova (Ukraine), Olesya Ilyasova (Russia), Petr Machacek (Czech Republic), Peter Zuidema (Netherlands).

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Russia 17 June >