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Siberian winter swimmers jog to Sochi in support of Olympics

February 17, 2014, 21:00 UTC+3 NOVOSIBIRSK
Twenty participants from Omsk and Siberia's capital, Novosibirsk, ran in turn about 15-17 kilometers a day, stopping for the night at local school gyms and halls
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© ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Smirnov

NOVOSIBIRSK, February 17. /ITAR-TASS/. A marathon team of the Omsk club of joggers and ice swimmers, which left the city of Omsk in Russia’s Siberia on January 22, has successfully reached the Olympic capital and returned home at the weekend, President of Novosibirsk Winter Swimming Federation Nikolai Glushkov, who participated in the race, told Itar-Tass on Monday.

The way to Sochi, 3,700 kilometers, took precisely two weeks. Twenty participants from Omsk and Siberia's capital, Novosibirsk, ran in turn about 15-17 kilometers a day, stopping for the night at local school gyms and halls.

“Those were quite ascetic conditions, but it cannot be otherwise,” Glushkov said. “You may relax in a comfortable environment and then have no wish get out into the cold in the morning.”

Initially, fans of cold training planned to cover the whole distance with just shorts and caps on, but due to severe frosts only a handful of them managed to run half-dressed at temperatures falling to 35-37 degrees Celsius below zero.

“There was a risk to get frostbitten, so we had to muffle ourselves up,” Glushkov said. “Usually we run at temperatures of 20-25 degrees below freezing. But there are such strong winds in the Orenburg steppes. You feel crazy! And in the Rostov region we struggled with heavy snowfalls. The road workers had no time to clear the roadside, so the roads we were running along looked like little canyons in the snow.”

Siberian winter swimmers arrived in Sochi, the Black Sea resort host of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, on February 6 - just for the opening of the Games - and handed a symbolic torch to the local organizers. They also attended several sporting events. Each of the four days started and ended with the ritual of swimming in the Black Sea.

“Where else could you find such water — nine degrees above zero? Here (in Novosibirsk) we usually swim at one degree below zero,” Glushkov said.

The oldest marathon participant, Chairman of the Omsk Runners’ Club Sibirskoye Zdorovye (Siberian Health), Evgeny Zhitnov, who arranged the race, is 75 years old. However, he perfectly kept pace with the other runners, Glushkov said.

Glushkov himself is 60. In his native city of Novosibirsk, he jogs five kilometers every day irrespective of weather, wearing what he calls a “walrus outfit” — just shorts and a cap.

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