Swedish Woman Runs Solo Across Iran

Ultra-runner Kristina Paltén ran 1,144 miles across Iran by herself in an epic quest for understanding.

"I have just started, and I am really f--ing scared," Kristina Paltén says directly into the camera in Swedish.

Not even one mile into her solo run across Iran, the ultra-runner's fears about what she's doing briefly overwhelm her.

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She's planned to go solo for 1,144 miles across a country where she doesn't know the language, a country not always known for being welcome to Western women, a country she's chosen to challenge her own prejudices, reports GearJunkie.com.

No stranger to discomfort, Paltén set world records for 12- and 48-hour treadmill runs. She had no previous connection to Iran but decided to embark on this run to experience the distance, the country's natural beauty, and to challenge preconceived notions, according to documentary filmmaker André Larsson's description.

Starting in the city of Bazargan last August, her route dipped south to Rasht, traced the shore of the Caspian Sea, headed through Golestan National Park, and finished at the border with Turkmenistan to the east. The run took 58 days, and is the subject of Larsson's forthcoming documentary called "Alone Through Iran: 1,144 Miles of Trust."

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In Iran, traffic ends up being more intimidating to Paltén than the possibility of a physical attack, she says in the trailer below.

People who don't even have food themselves give her food, she recounts, choking up a little. I'll freely admit that I'm a sucker for documentaries that highlight the kindness of strangers. The recent "Batkid Begins" and the 2012 film "Craigslist Joe" come to mind.

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For her run, Paltén pushes a three-wheeled stroller piled with her belongings. Early on, her stroller flies a tiny Swedish flag but before long it's accompanied by the flag of Iran. Although Paltén is doing this by herself, she is hardly alone -- and I don't just mean the small film crew following her.

Groups of people, no doubt curious as to what she's doing, approach her. Some even run and bike alongside in support.

"Welcome to Iran," a male shopkeeper says as Paltén goes to purchase a bottle of water. He won't let her pay. "You are my guest."

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