Neckarufer parkrun, Esslingen

Neckarufer parkrun route
Neckarufer parkrun route. East to start, back past the start/finish line then West, over a covered bridge.

Several of the events in Germany put on an extra parkrun for German Unity Day – their equivalent ‘one extra run’ for the UK’s Christmas day, Canada Day and Sweden’s National Day. Friends joined me in Stuttgart to hop on a train to Oberesslingen (the stop after Esslingen station, 20 mins from Stuttgart Hbf – catch the 7:55 or 8:25) to run it.

Paper Berlin Wall at the start, 'die mauer muss weg' and 'Freedom' written on it
A paper wall at the start.

With plenty of UK tourists, plus locals from other runs that weren’t offering an extra event, it was a festive atmosphere throughout. Several of the event team are from the UK and have been based in Germany for years, so can switch between the two languages with alacrity, helping everyone feel at home. As a tribute to the occasion, we had a paper ‘wall’ set up on the start line, for keen people at the front to break through.

Group of runners posing in front of the paper wall
My club mates (mostly – also Teri, fourth from left, and Mark, on the right).

We were there in plenty of time to look at the route. The start is a tiny downhill, flat with a small rise towards the turn around point, just over 800m away. Out and backs are great for spotting everyone and letting you run not just with those at your pace.

View of people gathering at the start, in front of an 'aching läufer' sign
View from the bridge (not run over, but we walked over it to the cafe on the island).
View of the river, trees on either side and clouds mostly obscuring a blue sky
Looking down the river from the bridge.

After the turnaround, and a gallop with the river on your left, you pass under the bridge shown above, with the start on your right, and head along for a while longer. It isn’t totally straight, though, with a tight turn onto a narrow wooden bridge, and another 180 on the path beyond taking you onto a snaking, if short, downwards section. It’s probably possible to run it very quickly, but the snaky nature made that difficult on a first attempt.

View of the briefing over an apricot-shirted runner's shoulder.
Chris, the event director, switching from German to English in the briefing.

The rest of the route is straightforward, and soon you’re turning – at roughly 3.3km – round a cone to head back to the start. That snaking downhill is now a sapping short uphill section. This parkrun has previously had between 13 and 36 participants, so 104 loaded the course up, but we were fine, with a few people checking their stride or making sure not to swing wide onto the bridge if someone was coming the other way.

Runners around a cone at the final turn
Celebrating the final turn (just over a mile to go from here).

Post run we mobbed the cafe; finding our cards generally didn’t work we jumped on the few people who had enough cash to make sure the cafe’s good start to the day didn’t turn into a lot of poured but unpaid-for drinks. There is another run (Kräherwald) even closer to Stuttgart, and Monrepos is just to the North and a similar time away by train (catch the 7:38 or 8:08 S-Bahn), so you have options in the area. Consider Neckarufer if you fancy running by the river, and testing hip sway on the twists.

View from the riverbank; trees on the opposite bank showing splashes of orange and red
Autumn colours on the river.

Results from Neckarufer parkrun event 27, 3/10/19.

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