Italian runner braves Siberia big chill


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A policeman from Italy has run a race in one of the world’s coldest permanently-inhabited places, braving temperatures of -52 Celsius.

The Russian and Italian media have followed the odyssey of Paolo Venturini avidly, from the initial stranding of his vehicle in the extreme cold to his triumph in crossing the finishing line.

As one of the contenders for the title of Northern Pole of Cold, he covered 39km (24 miles) in just under four hours, from Tomtor in eastern Siberia to the neighbouring village of Oymyakon.

The local Met Office recorded a temperature of -67.7 there in 1933, and the thermometer regularly dips below -60.

‘A grand scale’

Mr Venturini, an officer in Padua, is an extreme-sports enthusiast and member of his local Golden Flame police sports team.

Just before setting off from Tomtor, he said “we have to live our lives on a grand scale, because we will never get the same chance again,” Corriere della Sera newspaper reports.

In 2017 he ran 75km through the Lut desert of Iran, where temperatures hit the other end of the scale at 67 degrees.

He has spent nearly two years preparing for the Siberian challenge. He designed special clothing, trained inside an industrial freezer, and travelled with a support team including medics and film-makers who plan a documentary about his Monster Frozen project, which has the backing of the Russian and Italian authorities

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Paolo Venturini’s achievement may have captured the headlines around the world, but another runner from Moldova actually set a new local record by running further and in even more daunting conditions along the same route a few days earlier.

Dmitry Voloshin ran 50km (31 miles) at temperatures getting down to -60 Celsius, or -67 with the wind-chill factor, according to the news service of Siberia’s Sakha Republic.

‘Into the cosmos’

Mr Voloshin, an experienced runner who was raising money for his Unfrozen cerebral palsy charity back home, told Ria Novosti that it was “the toughest experience of my sporting career”.

He noted in particular how hard it was to breathe: “It was like stepping out into the cosmos.”

The head of Tomtor council, Yekaterina Vinokurova, told RIA that Mr Voloshin had “set a record by covering the distance in six hours in ultra-low temperatures”.

Next year is the centenary of the founding of Oymyakon village, and local officials told RIA Novosti news agency that they want to build on the international attention the two recent runs have brought them.

They plan to host a full-scale international ice marathon, which means contestants will have to run a 40km course, and are applying to the Russian government for the necessary funding.

Reporting by Jen Monaghan and Martin Morgan

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Source : BBC


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