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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 January 2006, 16:21 GMT
Russian runners beat winter freeze
Marathon runners in the Siberian city of Omsk
Runners laugh off the biting cold
It is Orthodox Christmas Day in Siberia and temperatures have plunged to -25C. But rather than curl up in front of the fire, 1,000 runners have turned out in Omsk for a half-marathon.

Many of the runners were wearing just light sports kit or fancy dress.

Dubbed the "world's coldest run" by Russian Centre TV, the annual Orthodox Christmas event is the brainchild of the city's Walrus Club - whose hobbies include winter dips in local frozen lakes.

One hardy runner said he was happy to strip off and run around in the freezing conditions.

A half-naked Valeriy Salnikov told the TV: "Just look at the weather! You run and test yourself. We should celebrate Christmas in our natural state."

Russian runner Yevgeniy Zhitkov, dressed as Santa
"It's a sporting Christmas" says this Santa
One Santa Claus, aka runner Yevgeniy Zhitkov, said: "Most people spend Christmas at home around the table watching television, but we traditionally come out to run. It's a sporting Christmas and a sporting Father Christmas."

According to local people, -25C is a little chilly, but not a big freeze. Everyone who turned up for post-race celebrations in Omsk's town centre agreed though that it was a bit cold for just standing around.

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