It might be surprising, but the sunny days are the coldest here. I stepped out of my door in the morning and faced a ‘real feel’ of -16 degrees Celsius. As the wind hit, I was sure that this estimate was right, but the sun was so welcoming that I didn’t let the chill stop me. I headed to Park Pobedy- Victory Park.
I was prepared, after all- I was wearing three layers including a thermal top, and two pairs of running trousers. the fact that the wind was coming through my shoes into my less -suitable socks was annoying, but could be endured. Either way, I told myself, I was going to warm up once I started moving at a good speed.
The park on the top of the hill is very windy, and almost the entire thing is a monument to the Second World War which means it is grandiose. And well maintained, although the countless minimum-wage workers were still trying to get rid of the snow and ice that fell a week ago. It took five minutes for me to feel remotely warm, at which point I had ‘summited’ the hill, and enjoyed the jog down the other side, into the sun. I looped, jogged, and turned as I pleased (much to the confusion of the ever-present police control). Most of these decisions were because I was trying to find the best angle for pictures. Some, like the impressive monument of men, falling over like dominoes and turning into a scroll (of history?) were lit up from an angle that a picture was impossible. Others were perfectly illuminated with the sun and the snow. These we accompanied by well-placed motivational messages- “In the war against fascism we all stand together”.
I was joined by a cross country skier who looped around different bits of unmaintained paths, dodged a few cars that were clearly lost, and ran up and down the stairs, circling the central monument. This features a very large statue of St George slaying the dragon and a very tall obelisk. The obelisk is crowned by three figures- which I always imagine to be an angel casting two men down- the angel of victory throwing down the countries foes. You can see this angel from all over the southern half of the city- whether on the way to the metro station after visiting ‘Fili’ park, or on the banks of the river in Gorky Park.
I was just passing one of the iconic churches, marvelling at the contrast between the golden domes and the modern ‘Moscow City’ in the background when an elderly gentleman shouted ‘Сколько?’ at me. I hesitated. What? He repeated himself- ‘How many? Kilometres? Two? Three?’ I grinned, checked my watch- ‘Four!’ ‘Молодец (Well Done)!’, he cheered me on.
I ran the final kilometre with a grin, and was still bouncy on my recovery jog home. When I finally stopped, my buff was stiff with frost.