Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Around the World: Segment 5: The Road to Astana (Part 3)

There are 380 days left before the run Around The World resumes with the fifth of eight segments due to start in May 2018. Work has continued this week on getting the route established for the 2,900 mile segment from Belgrade, Serbia through Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. I've nicknamed this segment "The Road to Astana". 

This blog post talks about the third and final section from Samara to Astana which is a distance of approximately 1100 miles.

Samara is a former closed city that became a centre of the rocket building industry after WWII apparently. My initial calculations suggest that it will take 61 days to reach Samara from Belgrade. This means that I'll have 39 days left to run the final 1100 miles to the finish line in Astana. I remember taking 37 days to run 874 miles from John O'Groats to Lands End. This just acts as a reminder how ridiculous the required daily mileage has become since then. 

The city of Sterlitamak (pictured below) lies on mile 2000 of my route from Belgrade to Astana. My initial plan has me taking 71 days to get to this city.  This is exactly in line with where I was during the run across the USA in 2011. Albeit I was 166 miles behind schedule then. Unlike the trans USA run however, this time I will be pulling a buggy with all of my kit and supplies inside. Once it is constructed and I have time to train and find my range with it then I'll have a much better idea of what my daily schedule needs to be and how many rest days I'll have in order to reach Astana within 100 days.

Magnitogorsk is the last major centre of population in Russia before the border with Kazakhstan. That's mile 2168 on the Road to Astana. The largest iron and steel works in Russia are situated in the city. Like Samara, Magnitogorsk is a former closed city.

It is a further 155 miles to the Russian border with Kazakhstan near Varvarinka (pictured below). If all goes to plan then it will have taken me 83 days to get to this border from the start line having spent 2 days in Serbia, 8 days in Romania, 24 days in Ukraine and 48 days in Russia. That will just leave 18 days and 541 miles left to run to the finish line in Astana, Kazakhstan.

I wonder what tales I'll have to share from this border crossing. I suspect the last thing the border patrol officers will expect to see will be a very tired British man pulling a big red buggy.

From looking at satellite images it looks like I'll be running through a lot of agricultural land in Kazakhstan. The city of Rudny, however, has the biggest iron ore extracting and processing plant in Kazakhstan and last year in was reported that it employed 19,000 people.

The satellite image below shows what looks like some huge mines to the north and north east of Rudney. They appear to be much bigger than the city itself. 

It will take a further 470 miles to reach Astana. The actual finish line will be at the foot of the Bayterek Tower (pictured below) which is situated very close to the Presidential Palace. What a stunning finish line that will be.  

So there we have it. My initial plan is to run the 2835 miles from the Victor Statue in Belgrade, Serbia to the Bayterek Tower in Astana, Kazakhstan in 100 days during the Summer of 2018. I may be able to take nine rest days during that time if my anticipated daily range of 31 miles in the Around The World Buggy is accurate. I'll have a better idea of that over the coming months.

It's going to be incredibly tough expedition. If I'm successful then I will have ran 11,826 miles around the world over 5 segments.

I'll talk more about my fears and worries, the main challenges that I think lie ahead and also what I'm looking forward to the most in a future blog post. In the meantime, I'll continue to work as hard as I possibly can to make segment five of the run around the world, The Road to Astana, another huge success.