at home in... w| Gerald Zhang-Schmidt

Run-Seeing Riga

Riga Skyline, Early Morning 1

When I was in Riga, Latvia as a Campus Europae exchange student (2007-2008), I took up running seriously. It was somewhat therapeutic, as my usual lifestyle clashed with that of the majority of “party students” there rather seriously, and I needed something to blow off steam.

Not only that, though. Running, and particularly running long-distance, was something I discovered to be not only healthy and relaxing, but also an excellent way of making oneself at home in a place.

Driving around, you are insulated from what’s going on around you only too much; using public transport (as long as it’s above-ground) is somewhat better for being in touch with the mass of humanity and the place you are in – but moving by your own power, at truly human speed, is the way to get to know a place intimately. Roads as well as paths, sights as well as sounds and smells, heat and cold and everything in between…

Thus, it came as quite a pleasure to me to discover that sightseeing runs had become something of a trend (see, e.g., here or, even better, here). Been there, done that – and Riga still feels like home. After all, I’ve been lots of places there, measured them in steps, and breaths.

I went past both the usual sights, and – much more so, actually – around parts tourists might not usually go. And not just because I was living in a student dorm in the Maskavas Forstate (Maskachka)…

Screenshot of a few of my Running in Riga Google Maps

You can see the maps/routes individually, in more detail, amongst my Google Maps.

Here in China, I find it a bit too strange a situation for running to go off-campus, but I’ve been a common sight on campus, and there are quite a lot of runners here, too.
I’m not quite as strangely-looking as during my best/worst winter run (see the picture here), but still with the same CW-X pants which do get lots of looks. In fact, the way Chinese react to foreigners, they even get lots of comments, from “Cool” to “Oh, so sexy.” Usually by girls, no less…