Valery – témoignage

"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..."