Would you please introduce yourself? How old are you? How long have you been running?
My name is Kristina Paltén and I am 45 years old. I started running at the age of 31, then I did my first 10 kilometer run. Sincethen I have been running further and further. For my runthrough Iran, I wanted to run alone. Since I also wanted to make a documenraty of my run, I did though have the company of SoroushMorshedian, who is a professionalphotographer, for 8 days. The runtook 58 days. The other 50 days I was on my own.
You have chosen the “Trust” slogan. Which countries have you been with this slogan?
Only in Iran. I have been running from Istanbul, Turkey through Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and to Finland with my friend Carina Borén in 2013. From Finland we kayaked to Stockholm, Sweden. It was a runof 3262 kilometers and the kayaking was 493 kilometers. But we did not have a slogan by then, the slogan was created before I went to Iran. The reason why I wanted to do this run was to experience the nature and the people but also I wanted to do it to challenge prejudices. Not many people in Sweden – and I would say the Western world – didthink it would be possible for me torunthrough Iran. I want people to trust eachother, I want us to be curious about eachother and I want openess between people. That is why I made this run. I placed my trust in the hands of unknown people and the result was truly beautiful. I slept in 34 different famileshome. People gave me so much food that I was at 70 kg when I came and at 70 kg when I left. That is welldone, consideringthat I have been running 1840 kilometer. People gave me fruit all the time, I never bought fruit in Iran. People helped me with everything. The Iranianpeople showed me great trust when they let me stay in their homes. It was trust both ways, and that is a beautiful message about mankind.
What was the opinion of your family and friends about iran? What did you think before coming to iran? Did you have any prejudice or fear?
I had lots ofprejudice, and so had my friends and family. Iran is little known for many people in my vincinity. I have heard from friends that are from Iran that Iran is a very beautiful country with very friendly people. What I saw in the news was something different – there Iran seemed to be a frightening country with laws that were difficult to understand for me and it seemed like Iran did not like US and my thought was that may bepeople would not like me (eventhough I am from Sweden)
There is a film which you say I am frightened. What was the reason that you said that?
Being alone in a country where I do not understand the language, where I cannot make myself understood and where I cannot read was scary at the start. That is why I was crying. I felt lonely and missedhome. Also, right before I left Sweden a dear friend of minedied (in cancer) and also my partner was in the hospital with his daughter that had caught diabetes. That made me feel sad and worried and being far away from homemade it worse.
Was your travelling to iran successful?
Very! I met so many nice people, the iraninan people are extremely friendly and hospital. I reallyloved it! I have hunderds of beautiful, golden memories from my runthrough Iran. A lot of people around the world followed the blogthat I wrote everyday. I believe that a lot of people got a better in sight into Iranian dailylife from the blog. The readers were also overwhelmed by the friendliness from the iranianpeople. And I also sensed that many people in Iran wereproudoforthat I wanted to run through their country.
How long have you been in iran? Which cities did you visit?
I was there for 2,5 months. I flew to Teheran, then a friend drove me to Bazargan. There I started running. I passed Maku, Marand, Tabriz, Boston Abad, Sarein, Ardabil, Astara, Talesh, Bandar-E-Anzali, Kiyanshahr, Lahijan, Ramsar, Tonekabon, Chalus, Nur, Amol, Babol,Sari , Neka, Behshahr, Galugah, , Gorgan, Aliabad, Galikesh, Askhaneh, Bojnurd, Shirvan, Quchan and finally to Bajgiran.
Now that you have been in iran, what is your opinion?
I like Iran very much! The women are very beautiful and proud, I like that. I wish I could have spoken to more people though. My Persian is not very good. Womens situation is very different from what I amusedto in Sweden.
Did you face any problem, limitation or obstacles as a woman in this country? Did you have any interesting accident?
I would not say that I had any major problems. There were minor incidents, but these were really minor. A man grabbed the babyjogger that I was carrying my luggage in once, and refused to let go. He wanted me to drink tea with him and then he wanted to drive me to where I washeading. That was a nice thought from him, bu the did not respect that I did not want to drink tea at that time and he did not let go of my babyjogger. I had to hit him to make him let go of me.Looking at his eyes, that were very big, I think he was on drugs. That situation scared me right then, but not after it was over.
What was the most amazing thing in iran? What made you upset the most?
The friendliness. It wasreallymarvelous! I was upset by a man that hit his son in a restaurant. Accordingto my values, a man that uses his power as bigger and adult over a dependant child is not worth being called a man – he is a coward. That upset me a lot. The small boy was crying very much. I interrupted the beating by asking to pay. I guess the man had his reason for being upset, angry or whatever he was, but taking it out on someone that is smaller, weaker and dependant – no, that is absolutely not a malething to do. Being grown up means being able to take care of your own feelings and handle them, without exposing anyoneelse to your own frustration, anger or dissapointment. That is to be civilized. A fully developed human has no reasons to oppress anyo ther human.
Do you have any plan to continue this travelling project and visiting other countries? Will you travel to iran again?
We will see what the future will bring! I do not have plans yet but they will surely come. Right now I am working on producing the documentary about this run and I am also writing a book about it. I would be happy to travel to Iran again.
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