February Member Spotlight – Ruslan Shakin

GGRC’s temporary member and physical embodiment of Forrest Gump

Ruslan is relatively new to running, having started less than five years ago.  But what he lacks in running years, he makes up for in miles. At the tender age of 34, he set his sights on completing his first marathon, and gave himself four and half months to prepare  (yikes!). He set himself some gruelling and unenviable goals, which included a 5K twelve days into this training (a mistake apparently), a 10K a month in, and a Half Marathon two months in.  He admits it wasn’t his smartest idea, which is borne out by the fact that he bonked at mile 20 and had to walk about 25% of the marathon. Still, it’s led to some amazing things…….

From this casual encounter with a marathon, he set his sights a little higher and quit his job to run the world.  From September 2018 to September 2019, he ran across Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa, averaging 50km per day and pushing a stroller weighing approximately 100Ibs with his tent and all of his supplies.  People join him every now and again – usually different people who find him on social media – but often he’s left to his own devices, listening to podcasts, music, and audiobooks with nothing but the open road. Well, except when he’s stopped by truck drivers who want to make sure he’s not crazy (they typically conclude in the affirmative) or cops who have received complaints that he’s running with a baby in the heat.  Once, he even had to open up the stroller and prove there wasn’t a child!

He had some crazy, and somewhat funny anecdotes regarding his travels.  

  • In Japan, he ran 50 mile days to get to Tokyo before a running store closed (it was a long weekend) so he could buy anti-chafing cream (very important).  
  • On his penultimate day in New Zealand, he pushed his stroller with one hand (due to a suspected broken wrist) for 50 miles through some hilly terrain.  
  • In Australia, he ran 90 miles unassisted across the Nullarbor Desert in one day (a record), starting at 12.05am and finishing at 11.35pm.  He began hallucinating during the last hour, and had to take 3 naps of 10 minutes each to get through. Afterwards he ate five cups of pea soup at a roadhouse and said it was the best soup ever!!  And if that wasn’t enough, he was all the while being passed by “road trains” with up to 96 wheels, and enduring temperatures of up to 117 degrees fahrenheit. It was so hot that his shoes started to melt.  

To finish off 2019, he ran a half marathon every day for the month of December; finishing with a 50K trail run on December 31st and all while working for Lyft at the same time.  He plans on kicking off his Northern Hemisphere journey on March 16th, giving himself three months to cross the US via Route 66, and aiming for 66km a day in honor of the iconic highway.  Not one for choosing the easy way, Ruslan is electing to accumulate the same distance as the equator for his overall endeavour, which is 25,000 miles (versus the shortest distance of 16,000 miles). He expects the Northern Hemisphere to take him about a year and a half, which would make him one of six guys to have completed a round the world run.

But even though his accolades put him up there, he takes a very relaxed approach to his running.  He doesn’t stretch. He doesn’t warm up. He doesn’t take any nutrition while running, but is partial to gatorade (and no, he’s not sponsored by them).  He takes breaks every 4-6 miles, and takes 30-60 minutes for lunch depending on his time constraints. How does he keep going? He says there’s no secret.  He just breaks down his journey: “a journey of 10,000km starts with one step”. And if that doesn’t work for you, then his other piece of advice is to “imagine you’re like a lemon and squeeze yourself to get the last of the juice”.  Sounds painful, but it seems to work well for him.

Ruslan is with GGRC for a good time and not a long time, but we’re very happy to have him!

Ruslan is dedicating his runs to raising awareness for the water crisis in Africa, and has a gofundme page to support the  “charity:water” group and their water project which could help 300 people to access clean drinking water.