Hannah is a 22-year-old Colgate graduate from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (go Steelers!), currently living in Moscow, Russia. Instead of looking for a more traditional job right out of school, she decided to move to Russia for a year to work as an English teacher and try to improve her Russian language skills. She’s obsessed with reading, baking, and going to the gym, so that is how she spends the majority of her time (when she’s not working, of course).
I’ll be honest; I’m not really into the whole sight-seeing thing. I wish I was. It would be great to have a ton of pictures of everywhere I’ve ever been. As it is, I have to force myself to “be good” and take pictures when I go to someplace new. I’m definitely better at playing the photographer when I am only visiting a new place for a weekend or so. However, when I live in a place for a longer period of time, I just keep putting off the whole picture thing until I have a week left and then I run around trying to make up for lost time.
I’m currently living in Moscow until next June, working as an English teacher here. It’s now mid-October…I’ve been here since mid-August. Have I gone out yet with the express purpose of sight-seeing? Not yet. Typical. But, I did manage to take some pictures of the biggest tourist attraction of the city, Red Square! I’m actually impressed with myself. Of course, I didn’t go out to play tourist. No, I went with a few friends to run in a free, Nike-sponsored 5K race. Hey, they were giving out free T-shirts (and as every Colgate student knows, that’s all you need to get anyone to go anywhere – free shirts and food).
So, this 5K run around Red Square is only the second 5K I’ve ever done in my life. Even though I’m an athlete, running is just so not my thing. But I made an exception for this. I went with a few other teachers to Red Square to check in 3 hours before the race, and then hung out and watched as other Russians and random tourists who had heard about the race milled around listening to the pre-race concert. While we were waiting, we made a few new Russian friends and met a couple from California who were traveling around Europe. We got our pictures taken by the race photographer, and watched as a random Russian girl stretched for an hour and a half before the race.
Race start-time: 7:00 pm. We stood within a crowd of people waiting for the race coordinators to tell us to go. As we were waiting (the race didn’t actually start until closer to 7:30), people started up chants of “Davai, davai, davai (go go go)” and got the wave going (multiple times) throughout the entire crowd. Two Russians crowded in behind us heard us all talking in English and joined our conversation, just to practice their own English. But yes, anyway…race details. First, definitely not what I would call a race; it was more of a “fun run”. There were people running in jeans, some serious runners, and then one guy running in a kimono and another running in fairy wings. There was a guy running in a full bear suit; as he ran past people, everyone called out “Davai (go) Medvedev!” (medvyed is bear in Russian, Medvedev is the Russian president…see the similarities there?) The run itself was very cool…we ran past the back wall of Red Square along the river and came back along the same path and I managed to take some cool pictures while running (yes, they are blurry, but I’m not going to be picky about it). A bunch of people were standing on the bridges over the road we were on, cheering for everyone, which was very cool. Also, I can honestly say I never expected to see a string-quartet on the side of the road at a 5K. I guess this is just how Moscow does these things.
I managed to finish the run without dying, a fact that I was very proud of. I came away from the night with a cool free T-shirt that has glow-in-the-dark writing (awesome, I know), a new Russian friend, and some cool pictures. I felt very productive–a little workout and some sightseeing, all wrapped into one event. I’ve officially decided that this is the best way to sightsee. From now on, I will be taking my camera on any run/fitness excursion I take while in a new country.