American Will Run 230km Across Belarus To See Grandfather’s Home

I am setting off on an epic journey, to run 230 kilometers in Belarus. A challenge to find myself and my roots by pushing myself to the physical limit.

Where did I come from, who were my relatives and what made me who I am today?

Belarus is calling

These are the questions that bother Jared Goldman, an American who has been living in Berlin for 18 years.

And the answers, he hopes, lie along the way through from the rural areas to the busy cities of Belarus.

“Starting in Minsk I will attempt to navigate myself out of the city and on to the open road. My goal is to run on average 30-40 km a day in order to reach my goal of Kažan-Haradok 250 kilometers away from Minsk.”

Kažan-Haradok is the village Jared believes his grandfather and great great grandfather were from. Based on a family tree paper he found in his parents documents.

Out of the past and into the new

(In the first person)

I remember my grandparents as a small child and going to their house for Jewish holidays. I can remember the smells, the furniture, and lots of old people giving me kisses.

Jared’s father by the photos of his ancestors from Belarus. Credits: Jared Goldman

Who was my great great grandfather? Where did he grow up and why did he leave?

This journey is not only about pushing myself to my physical limits, but it is a journey through my family history and to learn more about where I come from. This is also an expedition to meet new people and learn new things.

Jared Goldman’s father with his parents. Credits: Jared Goldman

To organize an event like this, I rely on many moving parts. So far I have been in contact with journalists, hostel owners, and found Facebook groups specializing in Jewish genealogy.

Hopes and challenges

In an interview to Svaboda.org, Jared spoke on some other challenges he may face during his run along Belarusian roads.

Since most of the roads have no emergency stopping lanes, the runner will have to avoid highways with intense traffic. Besides, the fact that local drivers are not used to sharing roads with runners doesn’t make it any easier.

“I hope there’s less traffic on some of the smaller roads. I may start out very early in the morning to avoid traffic. It also might be a whole lot cooler at that time of the day,” says Jared.

Moreover, Jared did his homework and even sent a letter to the Belarusian Embassy in Berlin to avoid any surprises with the authorities on the ground.

“A world hidden, but not gone and with a bit of dedication, trust and ingenuity I am slowly chipping away at the layers that I hope will make this project work.” 

Want to join Jared in his epic marathon across Belarus in August? Contact him via his Instagram or Twitter.