We first conceived running across Tajikistan almost 18 months ago. Like all good plans it started over a few too many beers with my friend Gabriel. Like you we love being outside in the mountains but were both stuck in two larges cities, Berlin and London with not enough adventures planned and the itch in our feet to get away. The beers led to a promise: wear a blindfold and spin the globe and wherever we land our finger we would plan a trip. The first spin landed on the Pacific Ocean. As seasoned trail runners we wanted somewhere a little more land based and so the second spin landed on the small, Central Asian country of Tajikistan.
Tajikistan sounded wild but we didn’t realise just how wild it was. A landlocked post Soviet nation that is barely know about let alone travelled to the idea of making a trip there caught our imagination and set it on fire. Tajikistan is known as the roof of the world, a nod to the fact that most of the country is dominated by a mountain range of epic proportions. The whole eastern part of the nation, the Pamir Mountains, is part of the Hindu Kush. The path of the silk route, the centre of the Great Game and the cross roads of empires and dynasties. Not only is this place wild, remote and beautiful but the wide valleys and roaring rivers tell a story of our humanity and of our place in our modern world.
How do we do justice to a place of such proportion? An epic place requires an epic adventure and we decided that the best way to appreciate this wilderness was to run across it. For those of you that hike, mountaineer or trail run you will know that the speed at which you cross a place allows you to understand it, appreciate it and mostly respect it in a way that faster modes than two legs don’t allow. It allows you to connect with a land one on one, to feel the weather of the mountain, to understand the way the sun rises and falls.
After some pretty heavy research we discovered the Bartang Valley. The geographical feature connects the border with Afghanistan with the border of Kyrgyzstan and seemed like a microcosm of everything that we had discovered about this country: valleys, glaciers, mountain passes and endless high altitude plateaus. It would be a privilege to run it.
So tomorrow we set off, supported by Vango, on this adventure of a lifetime. 18 months is a long time to plan something but we feel like we are now ready to treat this valley with the respect that it deserves. We can’t wait to update you from the other side.