It’s the day of the Samarkand Half Marathon, the streets are closed to traffic, and runners of all shapes and ages from all over the place have converged on the city to give it their best shot. As former marathoners ourselves (one and done for me on that!), we love to watch bodies in motion but today we’re running for the mashrutka to Urgut…a nearby town known for its 1000-year-old plane trees and vibrant textile market. I’ve got my sights set on vintage handmade robes and camel-hair shawls but it’s the people that catch my eye, just as they do everywhere we go in Uzbekistan, the place with the endlessly fascinating faces. Back in big city, the marathon is just wrapping up, the runners are eating pizza and posing for pictures in the park around the giant statue of Samarkand son and Uzbekistan’s first president Islam Karimov (whose authoritarian regime ran from 1991 until he died of a stroke in 2016), Shout out to the lady selling smokes and Saran-wrapped hamburgers at the finish line!