Polish parkrunning

Polish parkrunning
Gdynia, Poland

Gdynia, Poland


Dave and I headed for breakfast. As is my wont, I turned first to the food area, rather than the people, which left it up to them to approach us. Possibly, Peter, who had organised everything, had gone up to several people saying “are you John?”, but I like to think we looked like runners, making it easy for him to work out that we were the final guests. We met people and ate, which counts as job done.

Gdynia parkrun is within walking distance of the hotel, so we set off, a riot of 50 and 100 club parkrun t-shirts. Jakob, Peter’s contact and Poland country manager, was there with course and finish funnel marked, so we could talk to a few locals, sign our names for the record (possibly for insurance, but that may have been a rumour) and pick up on the local fashion of greeting all the other runners with a handshake. Very cool. The run itself is a two lap out and back along the sea front, so would be lovely on a sunny day. It was clear if a little fresh for us, but with little wind we could go go go. An early leader soon yomped off, while I settled in with a group of 3 Poles. For under a k that worked, then I found myself moving away from them, only to find all three plus Hannah Oldroyd, who I knew of from PRF’s Facebook updates, moving past. I latched on again, and over the next couple of ks was able to move past all but one Pole who was clearly significantly faster and using it as an interval session. Once I got past Hannah, though, I used her as motivation and kept up my effort to make sure I stayed ahead as we made the final turn to the finishing 200m, ending up 3rd and pleased.

We stood around, waiting for transport to sort itself out for the Gdansk run at 11, but Peter had things sufficiently in hand that the casual approach from the rest of us worked well, with me jumping in the first car that had space before some rumoured taxis arrived. By now it was a bit cold, and my two layers was proving to be on the ‘not quite’ end of enough. The car was warm, at least, and once we’d done the polite thing and waited for our local friendly driver to change into her running shoes we jogged over to the start. We had time before the start, and talked about the cold. We were cold. It was cold.

A slightly bigger field here, and much more of a twisty turning course. Two laps, through and round the edge of the park, with a mixture of concrete and sandy paths, mostly concrete. It’s a quick course, if not a completely flat one. This time I settled in to the middle of the field, working through a little but not quite giving it full beans. It was good to warm up again, and we caught the train back for a shower and proper warm up and sort out. Double run, done.

Peter had all sorts of suggestions for filling our time, and as ever with a big group we were happy to be led, just enjoying the dynamic. We explored Gdynia, talking running and the challenges we were taking on. I, as usual, got enthused by the idea of a tough run and if it weren’t for the fact that I plan to be travelling, would probably have signed myself up to the alpine race Peter takes part in each September. I really ought to have a picture taken from somewhere high about my person at all times to remind myself of my folly-there is no way I could take on an alpine race in which on the descents “you can’t afford to think too much, just go and aim not to fall” and not panic on the way down. I was reminded of that later in the year, in Ireland; when going up Diamond Hill I was right on the tail of my retired walking companion, but on the way down he let me lead and had ample time to rest as I weighed every step before taking it. There’s an adventure race there, people throw themselves down that hill, I could barely walk it and the alps would be similar at best. Twit.

In the evening we met some Polish parkrunners for socialising and talking about running. The only problem there is that most of the UK lot didn’t know each other so we were just as happy talking amongst ourselves as breaking new ground; some of the Poles might have found us a bit ghettoised. The pub, though, had a great view of the waterfront, so everyone had an excellent backdrop to their evening. Dinner was back at the same, excellent, place as lunch, and while the young or young at heart went looking for bars-and were sore disappointed in their lack of activity-the rest of us headed to the hotel for a last drink. Plus, of course, a long lingering look at the day’s results.

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