Neighbors meet in Russia for marathonWhile you may frequently bump into neighbors and friends around your hometown, it’s unusual to catch up with them halfway across the globe. In Russia, Marin Ekstrom and Irina Aleksandrovna Boggie, both of Two Harbors, met in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the 24th Annual White Nights Marathon.
By: Claire Hoffert, Lake County News Chronicle
While you may frequently bump into neighbors and friends around your hometown, it’s unusual to catch up with them halfway across the globe.
In Russia, Marin Ekstrom and Irina Aleksandrovna Boggie, both of Two Harbors, met in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the 24th Annual White Nights Marathon.
“It was really cool,” Ekstrom said. “Everyone was so friendly. They didn’t care about the national boundaries.”
A Russian language teacher who grew up in Novokuznetsk, Russia, Boggie is Ekstrom’s neighbor and friend. Deciding to participate in the marathon, she e-mailed Ekstrom, who was in St. Petersburg to learn the language and explore the city and culture. They then planned to meet.
Boggie, who ran in the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon this summer, previously studied in St. Petersburg. According to Ekstrom, Boggie was able to see family and friends while she was there.
Not only supporting her friend, Ekstrom also appreciated other factors of the marathon, the first she had ever seen, even with the proximity to Grandma’s Marathon.
“The whole atmosphere was happy because of finishing a marathon,” Ekstrom said, “Everyone was happy, relieved, and proud of themselves.”
Held on June 30, the race comprised of a 26.2-mile run and a smaller 10 kilometer race. The track twisted all around the city, featuring the architecture of St. Petersburg. Starting at Palace Square, it finished there as well.
“There were a lot of interesting sights,” Ekstrom said.
The White Nights Marathon included runners from all over the world, and many Russian natives.
“Amongst the various nations present, I marvelled at the kindness, respect and courtesy displayed for everyone,” Ekstrom posted on her Students Abroad webpage. “I heard Russians cheering for Finns, Chinese observers requesting pictures with Americans and Australians, and Germans and Italians high-fiving each other on jobs well done.”
She enjoyed the feeling of encouragement and friendship from the many different people participating in the race, and gave in to a request of a picture with a few Chinese tourists.
Boggie finished a half-hour faster than she expected. As a result, Ekstrom wasn’t able to see her cross the finish line, though it didn’t deter her from having a great time.
When asked if she would ever participate, Ekstrom laughed.
“I wish. The race goes by castles and I’d be in awe the whole time,” she said, “Realistically, no.”
Though she may never take part in the race, Ekstrom does advise those hard core runners out there to take a chance on this marathon.
“I recommend it. It’s really cool and very pretty,” she said.
Back in Two Harbors since Monday, Ekstrom plans on getting ready for the school year, and will continue with the Russian language. She also intends to enter a College of St. Scholastica program in the future to go to Washington, D.C.
“It’s a good introduction to government and foreign affairs,” she said.
Ekstrom, finishing her post, wrote, “In short, the White Nights Marathon proved to be a great experience. Although I had the added bonus of cheering for my neighbor there, I think that all people, participants or observers can enjoy the beauty, diversity, and the energetic excitement of the race!”