by Lewis Carlan in Stories, image by Dan Foy

Thank you, Pavel Yablochkov

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When I mention the name Pavel Yablochkov, I would be very surprised if anyone has heard of him. Honestly, I did not know of his existence until recently. But as runners, I think we owe Mr. Yablochkov a big thank you. In 1875, because of the “Yablochkov Candle” the first electric street lights were born. By 1890, over 130,000 electric street lights were in operation in the USA. Eventually, they popped up all over the world.

At this point, you may be asking yourself where I am going with this? Why am I writing about Pavel Yablochkov and electric street lights? Ask yourself this instead – “Have I ever used a lamp post as a measuring stick to add a little more distance to my run?” Odds are the answer is yes. I know I have. So many times, I have thought, “All I need to do is get to the next lamp post and I’ll be satisfied”, only to repeat that phrase over and over at every lamp post.

When the time comes during your run to pick that lamp post you want to reach , take a good look at that street light. Its standing there almost majestically, stretched out and hanging over the street. Doesn’t it resemble a finish line at a race? It almost appears they are all ready to pat you on the head for a great effort. You can almost hear them talking to you and saying “You can get to me! Don’t stop now! Keep running, keep pushing!!” And when you do reach the lamp post there is another one a few meters away saying the same thing. Oh yeah, how many runners have reached their desired lamp post and slapped it as if to give it a high five? I’ve been guilty of that many times!

The lamp post can play a big part of our running development. Beginner runners have been known to start their running lives by running from lamp post to lamp post. I have heard phrases like “I went running today and was able to run the distance of 5 lamp posts without stopping” and ” I ran past 13 lamp posts before I had to stop and rest!” and ” I ran 15 miles but didn’t want to stop until I got to 1 more lamp post” You get the picture.

I am sure that when Pavel Yablochkov was doing his part in electric street light history, he had no idea that he was not only illuminating our streets but benefiting runners from all over the world. So the next time you choose a lamp post to run to, thank Pavel Yablochkov. Now if i could only find out if Pavel was a runner…..




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