Volodymyr Dehtyarov is the Founder of Kyiv Running Tours, CEO of Newsfront PR Agency, an amateur marathoner, ultrarunner, long-distance triathlete, and writer of the following report. For more info on his company, and running in Kyiv, visit http://kievrunningtours.com/.
Life has been hard in Kyiv and Ukraine overall over last 8 months, but the running community keeps growing, and number of runners, bikers and active people involved in various events is expanding rapidly.
Located in Ukraine, on the banks of the Dnieper river, Kyiv is quite hilly. Nothing like Boulder, but not as flat as Vienna, for instance. The city is rich in parks and forests, and one can find places to run virtually in every district of the city. Some of the most popular running locations are the downtown parks, river banks, two botanic gardens, a huge island in the middle of the city, and several larger parks and forests on the city borders.
Kyiv Running Tours has been offering a number of downtown sightseeing running tours. While previously we’d focused on historic sights, building and urban legends, right now we’re getting more and more requests to run past Maidan and the sights where the city fights with police were taking place. Although the fighting was quite intense in the last month of the standoff, it was all concentracted in one square kilometer in the center of the city. I believe that street fights with riot police were unique in Ukraine in that over 3 months of the Maidan only one store was burnt down – one next to the barricades. No
damaged store windows, no burnt cars, no looting – and right now most of the city streets have been restored, with protesters’ tents staying only in the Maidan square, where it all started initially. So the Revolution-related routes have been on the rise – both with foreign journalists and regular tourists.
This bridge below was burnt down by riot police to disable access to the Parliament, and restored overnight by construction workers from the Western Ukraine once the ex-President Yanukovych fled the country.
The ex-President’s notorious out-of-city residence Mezhygirya was opened to the public, with runners and bikers enjoying the many kilometers of forest and park roads.
A big park in the southern part of the city hosts an exhibition of old houses from villages throughout Ukraine, displaying the village lifestyle. This is another big tourist attractions boasting many kilometers of roads great for running.
The city still remembers the World War 2, with plenty of monuments referring to the war and its victims. Virtually every family in Ukraine has had multiple members killed or hurt in the war, and the cult of post-war memories has been very strong in the Soviet Union. For most foreigners, the number of war-related monuments is a surprise.
Community and Events
The running community has been growing rapidly over last 4 years, with running clubs popping up here and there, and sports brands investing and promoting athletic events. One of Kyiv’s largest amateur running clubs KM Running Club has over 150 regular members, and during any training run at least 60 of them show up. Nike+ Running Club, New Balance running events, Adidas-sponsored races and Salomon trail running cup have all been components of the community buildup, and Kyiv’s largest and oldest running event, a charity Chestnut Run, had over 12 thousands participants in 2013. Triathlon events, aquathlon, Tough-Mudder-like events, Urbanathlon city runs – you name it.
Some of the largest city running events are:
– Kyiv City Marathon (April) and Half-Marathon (September) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR2EtkmtCDI
– Chestnut 5K Run (September)
– KM Running Club Open Cup (5 and 10k quarterly running events)
– Kyiv Triathlon Cup (which hosted ETU European Triathlon Cup in 2014) https://vimeo.com/100895832
– Road Bike Horizon Park Race https://vimeo.com/96970734
War & Politics
While Kyiv and the central and western part of Ukraine live a «usual» life, the Eastern part of the country – to be more specific, several cities and districts next to Russia’s borders – are in what we call a hybrid war situation. Terrorists backed by Russian money, headed by Russian mercenaries and equipped with Russian weapons are taking cities and villages as hostages, using heavy artillery, antitank and antiaircraft missiles and tanks to fight off
the Ukrainian army. Although we have never thought of Russia as an enemy, and the army was being destroyed over the last years, we’re facing a very rapid development of the new Ukrainian army. This has impacted the whole community, as people volunteer and join the Army ranks throughout the country – in the East, West and Kyiv. My good friend and sports doctor who healed many of my running friends has recently sent me a photo of himself sitting in a bunker with a machine gun and granades, still wearing his NB sneakers.
Those staying behind are organizing into volunteer groups to collect funds and equip the army troops with what they are lacking, to back up the new government which is trying to recover economy from the collapse organized by the ex-President and his family.
Overall, we are very optimistic. We’re on our way to signing the Association agreement with the EU, we’ve got one of the most experienced and professional governments in the history of independent Ukraine, the country is facing a rise of patriotism and unity.
Make sure you put Ukraine on your running destinations, and we’ll make sure that you’ll get an unforgettable running and interaction experience.
Reach out to us for more advice. Best regards, Volodymyr Dehtyarov