"At noon, three thousand runners rushed roaring on to the Red Square in Moscow. There were professional runners, old marathon fans, women, old people, and teenagers. It was raining and a cold wind blew across the square. My knees were aching and I could hardly run. The referee offered to reduce the distance for me, but I refused to give up.
My doctors think excessive ambition is my main drawback, and the underlying cause for my depressions. I have always tried to be the first, and though I have never been very strong, I have always been very persistent and have usually achieved what I wanted.
For seven years I won regional boxing championships; then I took up gymnastics and was also awarded a prize. Moreover, I used to practice winter swimming. As a school boy, I won a chess championship and got a pair of skis as a prize. I tried to be the best student at school, and my classmates called me a wonk, but I never got the gold medal – the sign of the number one student. Instead, I went to a psychiatric hospital.
The doctors did a lot for my mental health. I left school with good grades and entered the Pedagogical University to study physics. While I was at university, I sang in a choir and played folk music. After graduating, I moved to Siberia. As a young and inexperienced school teacher I tried to lecture to old and accomplished head masters.
Then I came back to the city of Yaroslavl, where I married my neighbour. We lived quite a healthy life for six years, and had two sons. I worked as an engineer, a laboratory assistant, and a research assistant, but the instability of my mood and problems at work brought me back to hospital again and again.
Suddenly my family drama became a tragedy: my wife and my younger son Alyosha died. My elder son and his family helped me to recover and to change my reclusive life. I started jogging in the mornings, went to fitness groups, took up volley ball and visited my relatives in the country side. From time to time I went to hospital with long depressions after short periods on the rise.
Although my doctors, my relatives and my couch tried to talk me out of it, I decided to run the marathon. I started running five kilometres a day, and on 9 September 2007 the 17th open Moscow Peace Marathon was held. I did not have money to pay for the train to Moscow, so I got there by means of several local trains (which are free for invalids). I caught a cold on the way, but came in time and got registered as marathon runner number 683.
As it turned out, my knees ached so much I had to walk most of the distance. It took me four and a half hours, but although some participants arrived an hour and a half earlier than me, I received the MMMM-XVII medal.
Afterwards I was wet and chilled to the bone. Moreover, I was late for the local train, so I had to spend the night at the railway station. But I got home safely, and told my story to the people in the “Isoterra” club and to my family. My great-grandson took my medal and pinned it to his T-shirt straight away. I hope he will remain proud of his great-grandfather.
For my next endeavour, I plan to take up parachute jumping..."