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16 Feb, 2009 11:43

Million skiers compete in ‘Trail of Russia’

Nearly a million skiers across Russia simultaneously took to the slopes in an annual event called the ‘Trail of Russia’. The race could not have been better timed, following heavy snowfall in many parts.

Since 1982 the ‘Trail of Russia’ has been the biggest ski event in the world not only by the number of participants but by geographical locations as well. In 2008 over 800.000 thousand people in 140 Russian cities took part.

Their objective of the event is to promote a healthy way of life to the entire Russian population.

Viktor Khotochkin First VP of Russian Olympic committee said the event has a new format this year.

There were three disciplines in the race. Men and women over 18 years old ran 10 kilometers while kids just 5 kilometres.

There was also another near Olympic contest, the 2014 meter dash for the VIP's and paralympians, who made their debut in this year's event. The traditional 50-kilometre marathon was cancelled though following recommendations from medics.

Other than that, the winter marathon went as planned in the rest of the country.

Believe it or not, there was a single winner who managed to push ahead of the stormy peleton. And for Aleksey Ivanov it was second win in the Trail of Russia in two years.

“I think it's easier to win the 50-kilometre race. The strategy is quite different but I feel more comfortable. I competed in France in a professional 76-kilometer marathon where I left the peleton far behind me, so if the 50-kilometre wasn't cancelled it would've been a piece of cake,” Aleksey Ivanov said.

This year’s ‘Trail of Russia’ spearheaded by the regional governments is set to break all previous attendance records.

And if this tradition continues in years to come, the 2014 winter Olympic Games in Sochi should anticipate a large number of participants.