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The Siberian Times

I'm NOT Siberia's Forrest Gump

By The Siberian Times reporter
24 January 2013

The man who fell out of a train in below minus 40C and ran seven kilometres in the blistering cold says he didn't bother to tell his wife of his amazing ordeal.

'I wasn't afraid of animals. I grew up in Siberia, and I know that bears wake up in winter only if they didn't eat enough during summer but there was a lot of food for the bears in summer'. Picture: Valery Malkov  

Valery Malkov's story has gone round the world after he literally ran for his life - wearing only a T-shirt, shorts and slippers  - so he didn't freeze to death. 

By sheer chance, the truck driver's snow marathon led him to a manned station where he was welcomed by a wide-eyed stationmaster who got him in from the cold and quickly made him a cup of tea.

'I didn't call my wife. I decided that I shouldn't bother her with it,' said the 42 year old. 

'I'm alive and well, and that's it. Mind you, she found out from the newspapers later, called me and started swearing.'

Wife Larisa, 37, who works in an electrical shop in Bratsk, 'got furious with me for hearing the news from the journalist, and not from me,' he told The Siberian Times from a road construction site in the Sakha Republic where he works. 

'But then I had no idea that the story would go like fire around the media. And I had no idea that the journalists would start looking for her and for me.

'This is why I didn't call - I was alive, safe, warm, I was about to be picked up by the train. Everything was fine. 

'But she got a bit angry.. not for long, though. She wasn't upset too much. Then she told me what do the papers write about me, that I was drunk.

'I was sober'.

He insisted: 'It is the first question people ask me. I understand why they want to check it first.

'People think this is the most logical explanation, like a Siberian man, a train, he fell out - must have been drunk! 

'But I wasn't. I must have been too deeply in my thought to do what I've done with opening the wrong door which should have been locked. I can't even remember what the thoughts were about - the shock of falling out has blackened the memory of what happened before. 

Man ran after train at -40C

'My wife got a bit angry... not for long, though. She wasn't upset too much. Then she told me what do the papers write about me, that I was drunk - but I was sober'. Picture: Valery Malkov

Valery is bewildered that people round the world are so amazed at his feat, but also resents being portrayed as a dim-witted Forrest Gump for falling out of a long distance cross-Siberian train from Moscow.  

'I am not Forrest Gump. And I'm not a hero,' he protested.

'Do not think this is an outstanding case. We have this kind of thing in Siberia very often. It's just strange that this happened to me while I was sober.

'I don't see it as something extraordinary. I knew that my life was in my hands - or rather feet - and all I could do then was to run for my life.

'It was ten o'clock in the evening. I was on the train from Bratsk (Irkutsk region) to Aldan (Sakha Republic) for the second day. I go there every couple of months for work. I work as a driver on a road building site. I was lying already feeling tired and thinking that I'll have a good sleep. 

'The train was due in at 1 pm next day. The night before I couldn't  sleep, because my back was hurting. I decided to smoke a cigarette before going to bed. 

'I walked outside from the compartment and went to the very end of the carriage, and after a smoke for some reason automatically opened the wrong door. 

'I was in the last car, and someone had forgotten to lock the door there. So the door opened and I fell out.

'My first thought after the fall was to get up and run. I didn't curse. I was not hurt - I just pulled the muscles in one arm and one leg. 

'So I got up, stretched and ran.'

Man ran after train at -40C

'My first thought after the fall was to get up and run. I didn't curse. I was not hurt - I just pulled the muscles in one arm and one leg. So I got up, stretched and ran. Picture: Valery Malkov

He stressed: 'I didn't feel scared. I just felt cold, naturally, and I knew that if I was not to start running - well, then I will freeze to death. 

'It was dark, the train lights have disappeared though I could still hear the wheel rumbling away. And it was nothing else. The dark sky, bright crescent, a track, lots of snow, and myself. 

'It's true  that I was dressed in just rubber slippers, shorts and a T-shirt. Its the most comfortable clothes for the train, they are very well heated in winters, so you actually want to have the minimum clothing on. 

'I started to run, trying to adjust my breathing to the cold air. 

'At some moments I had to walk to keep the nose breathing and not to open my mouth to take the freezing air in. Other moments I just kept on jogging.'

His life-saving marathon came despite never having trained in a gym.

'Never. Ages ago I was into fighting, but that was literally years ago. I never ran a marathon. I just like to stay fit, but then my job helps me a lot with it - I need to move a lot, and lift things.' 

'I decided to run in the direction of the departing train. I ran and saw that the signals for the trains were becoming more frequent. 

'So I realised, I was lucky, the station should have been near.'

Man ran after train at -40C

'Ages ago I was into fighting, but that was literally years ago. I never ran a marathon. I just like to stay fit, but then my job helps me a lot with it - I need to move a lot, and lift things'. Picture: Valery Malkov

He insists it was minus 45C, five degrees colder than reported earlier. 

'I wasn't afraid of animals. I grew up in Siberia, and I know that bears wake up in winter only if they didn't eat enough during summer but there was a lot of food for the bears in summer.  

'I was not afraid of wolves either. I was not scared at all. I did not think about death, neither about the cold. There was just one thought in my head - to run, to run, to run. I ran for 30 minutes.

'When I'd been going for about 7 km to the station named after Richard Sorge (a spy), the station officer looked at me with big eyes. Then he made me a tea and called the police.'

Man ran after train at -40C

Astonishingly, Valery did not suffer frostbite: his relentless running had literally saved him. Picture: Valery Malkov

Astonishingly, Valery did not suffer frostbite: his relentless running had literally saved him.

Having lost its passenger, the train was held for six and a half hours at another station. 

'I was taken there by car by the station officer.'

He got into his bed on the train 'and fell straight asleep'.

'In the morning wake up and thought about my life. But this is personal'.

Comments (1)

shame this article didn't come out 1st
Mao Oliver-Semenov, Krasnoyarsk
25/01/2013 08:39
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