This year we were hit with a realization that UxC’s Annual Virtual 5K has become an industry mainstay as we began fielding questions about the timing of the event as early as April. It is exciting to see both the growth of what started as a small group of industry friends sharing an occasional run at conferences and our annual event that was borne out of necessity in the middle of the pandemic. While running together at conferences is the ultimate unifying experience, we at UxC are partial towards the virtual run as it enables us to bring together a much broader group of industry participants from across the globe.

Last year was the first time UxC made public one of our numerous charitable donations we do each year, donating for every kilometer covered by the Atomic Runners to two charitable foundations in Ukraine. This year, we decided to focus our $5,000 in donations on a single goal, selecting ANS-ENS Ukrainian Nuclear Workers Humanitarian Fund, which benefits our Ukrainian nuclear industry colleagues. The choice is not accidental. Ukraine’s nuclear industry is struggling to function in a war-torn country, operating nuclear power plants in extreme circumstances to ensure the country keeps its lights on. And of course, the military occupation of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant (ZNPP) remains a top concern for our industry and the world. In the 1950s, nuclear power was shared with many countries through the Atoms for Peace program, bringing with it development and prosperity. As nuclear power plants were never meant to be held hostage like ZNPP, this year’s Virtual 5K was a run for peace.

We asked the Atomic Runners to put in the distance and they more than delivered. The 2023 virtual run has surpassed all our previous records as we logged in 435 kilometers in 9 countries across 5 continents!

Reaching this distance was not easy as large parts of the Northern hemisphere were gripped by intense heat. For many, running early was key, but it was still very, very hot and the kilometers dragged on for what felt like an eternity. So here is our promise to all of you – UxC’s 5th annual virtual run will take place in May 2024. One advantage of doing the virtual run in July is the fact that we were able to incorporate a physical run during NEI’s Nuclear Fuel Supply Forum in Washington, D.C. There were 14 Atomic Runners that showed up bright and early to run our established route to the Lincoln Memorial before tackling a busy conference day.

As part of this year’s virtual 5K, we gave out shoutouts and our coveted Golden Sneaker awards to various Atomic Runners along the way in our weekly updates. And while there were amazing feats by many along the way, there are two teams whose achievements we want to especially acknowledge. Team Cameco, led by Ashley Kambeitz, covered 45 km together, with Cameco matching the $450 that UxC will be contributing on behalf of the Cameco runners!

Team Paladin entered the event in full force. Together, they covered 100 km’s on two continents! You read that right. Paladin went all out, and we are still astounded how they managed to unite so many folks in the company and include the entire management team.

We also asked the Atomic Runners to share thoughts on the following two questions.

What has been your favorite conference location and why? Where would you like to travel for a conference?

The varied responses provide a multitude of ideas – and I know all of us certainly hope both the Nuclear Industry Institute and the World Nuclear Association will take note of our extensive wish list!

“I don’t remember the location, but my favorite conference was the first conference I attended. I remember Dennis Barr describing “speed dating.” I was sure he was crazy, but every word was true. My most memorable location was Las Vegas: “Meet us in the Starbucks.” “I’m at the Starbucks.” “No, the other Starbucks 3 miles from where you are.” For this conference, I brought the right attitude but the wrong shoes. I like the west. Let’s do Phoenix or San Antonio or Cheyenne. Not the west, but how about Nashville?” – Karen Radosevich, Entergy

“Conference/location we enjoyed in the past: The Hague.

Conference location suggestion for future conference: Barcelona.” – Team Paladin

“Favorite conference – Istanbul 2013 and the protest candle lanterns floating from Taksim Square over the reception venue. Venue for future conference – somewhere on the African continent such as South Africa or an aspiring nuclear country like Morocco or Ghana.” – Dave O’Keefe, Centrus Energy

“My favorite was Madrid – it was a very hospitable location. I am eager to go to a conference in France, China, and South Korea as it would reflect these countries’ role in the nuclear energy and fuel industries.” – Anna Bryndza, UxC

“My first ever nuclear fuel related conference was the inaugural WNFC in San Francisco in 2001. Since then, I honestly have been all over the world for industry events, and I have many different favorites. What I love about our industry is that it allows us to visit places as varied as Istanbul, San Diego, Banff, and Milan, among so many other wonderful cities. Not only do we get to learn about new and interesting cultures, but we discover this with friends and colleagues from the industry. Conferences are what make our industry truly special. I look forward to traveling the world with many of you in the coming years, including hopefully to new parts of Asia, Africa, Australia, and South America!” – Jonathan Hinze, UxC

“What has been your favorite conference location and why?

  • Atlanta was beautiful
  • Denver, CO; great conference, beautiful city and state
  • South Carolina – It was so amazing. Lots of history in the area
  • Montreal – convenient, well laid out, beautiful and unique Canadian experience

Where would you like to travel for a conference?

  • Heard Spain is wonderful so would love to go there
  • Tokyo would be nice.
  • Nova Scotia/East Coast of Canada
  • Singapore or Iceland – beautiful in very different ways, but focused on the future so could learn new perspectives on growth hands on” – Team Cameco

“Favorite Location for a conference: NYC, because I love to run in Central Park. Where I would like to travel for a conference: NYC, because it is a 30-minute train ride from my village, and I love to run in Central Park.” – Joe McCourt, NYNCO

“Favorite was Lisbon because it had wonderful food, a great climate, and plenty to see. Istanbul was amazing too but… not one I’m keen to repeat right now. Where do I want to travel to? Inside the States – Naples or Denver; outside of the U.S. – Paris.” – Matt Cameron, Duke Energy

“Favorite conference location? London! Usually a good turnout and generally lures partners from all corners of the globe. It also offers a fantastic choice of bars and restaurants to meet up. For anyone who arrives early or stays late, the prospects are endless for all kinds of entertainment (tourism, shopping, musicals, theatre…).

Where would I like to go for a conference? Any place that would attract a good crowd from our industry is a good place to go. From a purely egoistic standpoint, it would be a place where I rarely go myself like South America, Africa or the Middle East.” – Jesper Floren, UG

“Without a doubt I consider WNFM conference in 2012 in Banff as the most memorable event for me. I was not only more than 10 years younger but also 10 years less experienced, which means I followed presentations and absorbed a lot from business meetings. I accompanied my today’s retired colleague Miroslav Sedina who was well respected and helped me become a part of the whole nuclear fuel cycle community. The landscape and Cigar Lake tour contributed as well to calling it my favorite conference.

Where would I like to travel for a conference? I must say that after so many years and events I prefer attendees to locations. Quite often there are only a few opportunities to leave the venue (welcome receptions, Atomic Runners, farewell dinners) but matters are people, their experiences, skills, opinions.” – Tomáš Vytiska, CEZ

“Sydney Australia 2009 – It was a great city with wonderful international feel and great food. It felt familiar in its English-speaking and western world ways, and yet very other-worldly in its nature surroundings (kangaroos, wallaby, cockatoo, giant bats…) that felt so far away from home.

Would love to visit an Asian city with a large presence/influence in the nuclear industry, such as Seoul, Tokyo, or Beijing.” – Rob Lee, Constellation

“I am still a ‘rookie’ when it comes to conferences comparative to this well-traveled industry, but it’s impossible not to have a good time in Vegas (NEI 2022).

Where would I like to travel for a conference? I believe Idaho would be appropriate given the amount of work being done at Idaho National Laboratory on nuclear and fossil-free energy systems. I’m not sure if we could actually take a tour due to security restrictions but Sun Valley is only 2.5 hrs away from the lab and would be a great spot for a conference in the U.S.” – Todd Howard, Centrus Energy

“I like keeping London and Paris in the mix because they are easy to get to and offer opportunities for side trips to vendors. For USA… I wasn’t around but I heard Miami was good. I prefer a city center or somewhere beach-y all things being equal. That’s my two cents!” – Jason Murphy, Constellation

“My favorite conference location so far has been Ljubljana. We had great attendance and Slovenia was a beautiful country to explore. I would like to travel to Banff – I have heard stories and seen pictures from the conference there in 2012 and it’s a place I have always wanted to visit.” – Scott Spencer, Southern Nuclear

“Favorite conference location: Ljubljana, Slovenia. Why: it was fun to do Atomic running in the rain! Next location: Brazil.” – Keiyu Maruyama, WNA

“I had greatly enjoyed the past conference in Lisbon a few years ago for the beautiful fisherman’s town and delicious seafood cooked in different style from what we do back in my country. I definitely wish to join a conference in Australia just because I’ve never been to any place in southern hemisphere!” – Shigeo Fujinami, TEPCO

“My favorite conference was Edinburgh. It was a beautiful, walkable city, and just the right size for our conference. I would love to go to Jackson Hole, WY.” – Elizabeth Roberts, WMC

“My favourite conference location so far was Lisbon. For the future I would like to go to Prague.” – Sibylle Schönenberger, KKG

“My favorite conference was Vegas. Would love to go to Huntington Beach next!” – Florie Knauf, NEI

“My favorite conference location of late is Savannah. NEI conference in Savannah in late 2021 was the first time the industry got together after two exhausting years of COVID lockdowns, monotonous Zoom sessions, and deferred gym sessions. To me Savannah was a long-anticipated reunion and a chance to pat each other on the back and share a story or two. Also, the then newly dredged Savannah River was once again offering passage to the heavy lift ships. Watching those majestic giants leisurely passing by was a memorable sight!

Where would I like to travel for a conference? I think Copenhagen or Stockholm would both be spectacular locations! A rigorous, but fun Atomic Runners challenge trail would be on me!” – Alex Michshenko, Kazatomprom

It was amazing to see our group grow along the way as we welcomed new and returning runners to the club. If you would like to join the Atomic Runners, please let us know and we will ensure you stay tuned about all our running adventures. Run with us in London in September, in Charlotte in October, or virtually!

We want to thank all for participating in our Atomic Runners for Peace event. Together, we are a nuclear family!

This article was originally published in the July 31, 2023 issue of the Ux Weekly.

Anna (Anya) Bryndza joined UxC, LLC (UxC) in 2008 and currently holds the position of Executive Vice President, International. In this capacity, she is responsible for analyzing government policies as they relate to the nuclear fuel markets worldwide. In this capacity, she manages UxC's Policy Watch service. Ms. Bryndza is recognized as the industry's leading expert on nuclear power and fuel developments in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with a comprehensive understanding of the current state, ongoing trends, and prospects for Russia's vast nuclear power complex. She has presented at the nuclear industry's key international forums, including the World Nuclear Association's Symposium (London), ATOMEXPO (Moscow), and NEI's Nuclear Fuel Supply Forum (Washington), among others. Ms. Bryndza has been interviewed by worldwide press publications, including a number of Eurasian media outlets. She is trilingual (English, Russian, and Ukrainian) and holds a dual degree of Bachelor of Science and Arts in Economics and Political Science from the College of Charleston and a Master of Arts in International Trade and Investment Policy from the George Washington University.