A Look from France at Shсhuchin Ten-kilometre Running Race

The lilacs would not probably be in blossom yet – I keep thinking that on the way to Charles de Gaulle airport from where the plane will be transporting me to Minsk. The spring in France, where I am living now, is often ahead of our Belarusian spring: not only chestnut trees, but peonies as well are in flower. I suppose to see a far more reserved picture back in my homeland. However, this year May has been really warm in Belarus. The chestnut trees and lilacs in my native town Shtchoutchin surprise me with their full blooming splendour.

The life here too is buzzing with events. As my friends find out that I have arrived, they call me at once:

“There’s a race here tomorrow, would you like to take part?”

“Sure!”

There are people who don’t have any ear for music, but adore singing, even more so in a company, oh, really “together we will fly so high!” Similarly, not being at all the person to establish world records, I do love everything about sports and motion. I took to jogging long ago. The first attempts aimed at improving physical training marks at school took place at a stadium not far from my home. Later on, during our postgraduate studies, we – my friend Natasha and me – went for it seriously. Seriously, as far as jogging is concerned, was for us to keep running for twenty, then forty minutes non-stop without subsiding into a walk.

Yet, there are real, true sportsmen among my friends. “Seriously” for them means competition and result expressed in minutes and kilometres. Some, like Victor Lisovsky, for instance, even do Marathon races. He also organizes sports events for others to let everyone taste the joy of achievement. This race is not an exception: he has been preparing it with so much inspiration and enthusiasm. As he asks me if I am going for a two- or a ten-kilometre run, I say “Ten!” already overwhelmed with the fervour.

“How long do you suppose to take?” he asks me during the registration.

“Over an hour”, I just don’t have the heart to say it can be as long as an hour and a half. That my usual jogging distance never exceeds six kilometres. That I have never done ten kilometres in one go. But when, if not now? So, that’s it: I am given the start number which I attach to my red T- shirt, from now on it isreal.

We are gathering in the town square, and dear me! – we are quite many, there are foreign guests, schoolchildren, adolescents and adults.

“I do four to five kilometres every morning”, a thin man unobtrusively shares his experience. “Can’t do without any more.”

He, as it later turned out, is eighty-four years old.

Victor Lisovsky is thanking everyone who has come to Shtchoutchin for this event: “…the champion of a twenty-four-hour race, the winner of a six-day marathon in Greece…” he keeps naming the participants. Never ever have I imagined such running distances to exist. And how much effort must have been required to organise everyone and everything!

At last the road is closed for cars, we are given the start, and we follow the leaders, every time the road turns the volunteers show us the direction with their flags. Just as everyone else I dash at the start. And as long as I keep running I think about the recent Olympic Games. About how exhausting the training process for the professionals must be. About the cost of their records and victories. Curiously enough, the race takes place on the ninth of May, my father’s favourite holiday, – Victory Day.

I cross the finishing line with the last five people, but I am still deliriously happy to have made it to the end.

The winners get the awards and delicious presents from Shtchoutchin dairy plant. Besides, medals for everyone who managed to cover the distance come as a pleasant surprise. I am sending the photos to my friend.

“What? You’ve got a medal?!”

“A participant’s medal”, I hurry to explain.

“Never mind!” she concludes. “It’s the victory over the self that counts.”

Katsiaryna MAKUTSA.