This year there was no Kola-Murmansk run dedicated to Murmansk’s birthday. No, no one announced the cancellation of the traditional athletics competition, but during the postponement of the City Day celebration from October 1 to October 8, the organizing committee excluded the competition from the program to ensure the anti-terrorist security of Murmansk residents.
This distinctive feature of sport in Murmansk was also absent in 2020 due to the restrictions related to the coronavirus. Has this happened before or is this traditional run held every year? I looked for the answer to this question in the archives of the sports committees, in old issues of newspapers and in the State Archives of the Murmansk Region (GAMO). Dusting off the yellowed pages, several interesting discoveries were made.
Anyone interested in the history of the traditional Kola-Murmansk athletics race will see the same date of the first race on several Internet sites – September 12, 1934. And they will think that the tradition was born 88 years ago. However, the last run, which took place on October 3, 2021, is officially considered the 85th. It doesn’t work! When was the first run?
In the September 1934 editions of the Polarnaya Pravda newspaper, which covered most significant sporting events in Murmansk at the time, there were no reports of this sporting event. There are no reports on its implementation, nor on its results. After reviewing several folders of documents of the Murmansk Oblast Sports Committee of the Leningrad Oblast available at GAMO, I was almost convinced that the 1934 Kola-Murmansk race did not actually take place.
In search of the truth, I turned to the file of Polar Justice for September 1935. And not in vain! The issue of September 11 contained an announcement about the Kola-Murmansk run, which “will take place on Thursday, September 12 and will be dedicated to the 1913 draft.” This probably means conscription of young men born in 1913, which until 1935 was not widespread.
The announcement also says that the participants in the 1935 Krasnaya Gazeta run, including Hakkola, Kasaurov, Abramov, Sintsov and Sakharov, will compete for the championship. The Krasnaya Gazeta Run is the oldest track and field race in Russia, held since 1923 over a distance of 30 or 32 kilometers between Detsko Selo and Leningrad (now Pushkin and St. Petersburg).
So, on September 12 at 12.15, 21 athletes started from the “Red Fisherman” club in Kolya. On September 15, Polarnaya Pravda published a short report from the historic race:
“The starter waves the flag sharply and they quickly take off. The bridge over Kola crossed a pile. And only at the station individual runners begin to pull forward. Sintsov, choosing a dry path, runs along the railway tracks. In front are Panferov, Hakola, Kasaurov. But soon things change. Shipitsyn bypasses Kasaurov and stands behind Hakol. Tsvetkov, who runs seventh, catches up with Kasaurov.
At the brick factory, Shipitsyn takes the initiative, bypasses Hakol and stubbornly overtakes Panferov, who goes the entire distance first.
Varnichny stream. Pedestrians greet runners on Stalin Street. T-shirts of runners can already be seen through a thin fence on the sports ground of the fishermen (in front of the building of the current art museum. – author’s note). Panferov rushes in first and, slipping, falls. Shipitsin overtakes the leader in the run and is the first to cross the finish line with a time of 52 minutes 30 seconds, second is Panferov – 52 minutes 33 seconds, third is Khakola – 52 minutes 52 seconds.
A short break and again applause and carrion. – concludes Tsvetkov. His time is 54 minutes. 37 sec. In fifth place Kasaurov – 55 m. 57 s., followed by Maletin – 56 min. 36 sec. The run is over.”
And then the Kola-Murmansk run was not mentioned in the local press and documents for more than 30 years!
The next mention of the run after 1935 was found in Polarnaya Pravda in 1967. And it was perhaps the most important news in the history of the race. The October 12 issue reports on the second (!) Kola-Murmansk run, which took place on Sunday, October 8, 1967. The note was written and sent to the editors by Oleg Panov, chairman of the Murmansk City Council of the Union of Sports Societies and Organizations, that is, a person respected by sportsmen who knows the sport, not a journalist who may be an amateur in the field.
“Last Sunday, the second traditional athletics run was held on the Kola-Murmansk route, dedicated to the 50th anniversary of Soviet power,” writes Oleg Panov. – More than seventy strongest athletes from our region took part in it.
The men started at a distance of 14 kilometers. The best time was shown by Anatoly Klimov, candidate for master of sports from Severomorsk. Anatoly Fomin from Kandalaksha finished second. The third place was taken by Viktor Semyashkin from Monchegorsk. He was awarded a special award for the best running technique.
The start of the women’s 3000 meters was given in the area of the ski base. Lyubov Osipova, representative of the Apatitstroy trust, won this distance.
In the team classification among the voluntary sports associations, the competitors of the Labor Reserves won the championship, and among the physical education teams, the athletes of the Murmansk Fishing Port won the championship.
So, the chairman of the Murmansk City Council of the Union of Sports Societies and Organizations confidently called the 1967 run the second in a row. But what run Oleg Panov considers the first? The word “traditional” implies that the first run took place a year before the second, but no October 1966 issue of Polarnaya Pravda mentions the Kola-Murmansk run, although the events dedicated to the 50th anniversary of Murmansk are described in several issues.
Do I need a current number?
It should be noted that the city sports committee has long given serial numbers to the run, although it changes the starting point, and the Council of Deputies of the city of Murmansk acts more cautiously. In his documents, among the significant Murmansk events for physical culture and sports are the “International Holiday of the North, which has been held annually since 1934 in March-April” and “the Kola-Murmansk athletics run and the mass run “My Murmansk” dedicated to the celebration of the Day of the city of Murmansk”.
By the way, the Krasnaya Gazeta prize competition mentioned above, which was first held in 1923, changed its name several times and was canceled only five times. But its organizers confidently say: “The traditional Pushkin-St. Petersburg run will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2023.”
Our Kola-Murmansk run in 2020 could have celebrated its 85th anniversary if not for the pandemic. As for the serial number, if evidence is found that races from Kola to Murmansk have been running since 1966 without interruption, then, given the 1935 run and canceled in 2020 and 2022, it will be possible to assume that in October 2023 the traditional Kola-Murmansk run will be held for the 56th time.
Photo from the editorial archive