Running a thousand and one miles for inclusion, love and openness

In the middle of August I will set off on a journey that will take me across Iran, more than 2000 kilometers, on foot from Bazargan, on the Iranian border towards Turkey, to Sarakhs, on the Iranian border towards Turkmenistan. The route will take me along the Silk road and the adventure is named ”Thousand and one miles” after the fairy tale.

I will the first person to attempt to make this crossing and I will do it alone. I plan to run about 35 kilometers per day and the journey will take me nearly three months – allowing plenty of time for meeting people and experiencing the culture along the way.

It took me a while to figure out why I so strongly wanted to do this trip. It was something echoing inside, demanding that I do it.

Running is of course about enjoying beautiful nature and meeting friendly people; there will be plenty of both in Iran. But surely there are easier ways to enjoy beautiful countryside and meet friendly people than running, as a single woman, through a Muslim country with sharia laws. Why? What did I want to prove?

Eventually I realised that it is about fear and about love. It is about the way I want our society and our world to be. I want it to be based on love. Today I see that fear is ruling parts of how we live our lives and how we build our world and societies. I see xenophobic political parties growing in popularity, in Sweden and elsewhere. I want to challenge my own fears and prejudices as well as those of the world around me.

It might not be possible to change the world by running but perhaps I could change myself, the people I meet and inspire a seed of change in those who hear about my run? At least it is worth a try.

By doing this trip, I hope to bring people closer to each other, and to contribute to a more tolerant, peaceful and loving world.

I want love to be the basis of all Life; I think that is why we are born and why we are here.

Kristina Paltén is a Swedish adventurer and ultra-runner. She has previously ran from Turkey to Finland, completing the journey home to Sweden by kayaking across the Bay of Botnia and she is the currently world record holder of the longest distanced covered in 48 hours on a treadmill.

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