Vallaskogen parkrun, Linköping, Sweden

Each country can choose a day on which they can hold an extra parkrun. Sweden chooses its national day, 6th June. Because it was a Monday, and also because it followed some national holidays in the UK, many of the runs in Sweden were busy – Malmö, which I ran in 2019, especially so. In 2019, we nearly set an attendance record with 144. This year, they all-but doubled it, with 287.

Route map of Vallaskogen parkrun.
Route map – one short loop at the top, then onto the longer loop. The marshal at the Lap 1 marker directs you three different ways – left (anti-clockwise) first, round the small loop, then straight on, down to the longer one and finally left again (clockwise), to head to the finish.

Vallaskogen was much quieter. They’d had an influx of tourists on the Saturday before, taking their attendance to 38, and today they were at a still-higher-than-average 27.

Vallaskogen is a nature reserve to the NW of Linköping. I was staying in Skaggetorp, a self-contained suburb further NW, but even that was a straightforward 4km walk to the start. From the centre of town, it would be much shorter.

Everyone meets at the edge of the reserve, still within the confines of the Gamla Linköping, an open-air museum preserving buildings and more from small-town Sweden of 100 years or more ago. The red cabins you can see in the start pictures above are typical. There are picnic tables to gather round afterwards, ground to lie on if you need it and toilets nearby.

There was one other Brit there, who managed to take better pictures while on the run, which I’ve reproduced below. Thanks!

An open-air area with picnic benches and the parkrun flag.
A gathering point
A tree-lined path with wooden fences on either side. The ground is covered in pine needles.
Pine needles on the ground.
A gravel path running through tree-lined surroundings
Me, running.
A marshal in hi-viz at the junction of several paths.
The busy marshal, here at the first turn.

The course is mostly on forest paths, which at this time of year are covered in pine needles, giving a slightly gentler landing. It’s all run on a good surface, and with not too much up and down, making for a quick course. Plenty to divert you as you progress, too, with trees and wildlife everywhere.

There’s a short loop to get you going before you head out into the forest. The course doesn’t take a right-turn it used to, because there are goats there – an unusual reason for a course change. I couldn’t spot the old route while running, though, and just followed the signs. On the main loop, you’re following yellow diamonds and yellow runner signs. I was lucky enough to have an actual yellow runner up ahead, so was in no doubt as to where to go.

The event can run with very few volunteers. The lady handing out finish tokens was also scanning people’s barcodes, which is perfectly possible but I couldn’t really stand by while she was busy, and ended up giving out finish tokens to everyone finishing behind me, which is why you’ll see me standing at the finish in the picture below.

Signs in Swedish at the finish line, warning people to watch out for runners.
The finish line.
A runner comes in to the finish line, tall trees surround the path.
The finish line from behind.

It was a glorious morning – later it clouded over – and so while others had things to head back to, Graham and I headed to a local cafe to chat. Dahlbergs cafe is just round the corner, and popular enough to have a queue to get in when we got there and when we left, some time later. Time spent in the cafe meant we were still in the museum when a concert of Swedish songs (that is the sum total of what I know about it, and that’s a guess) started later, and we stood for a while to let the atmosphere roll over us.

A crowd of people on a paved area stand listening to a small group of singers on a stage.
Listening to the music.

Heading back, I deviated from the main road that took me directly to Skaggetorp and found that just over the road to the North of the nature reserve is a whacking great forest (Rydskogen), which was a pleasure to stroll through, dotted with wide trails and smaller ones taking you off into the trees, along with a frisbee golf course to avoid getting in the way of.

Tall trees in the forest.
Tall trees.

I’d heard a few people saying they’d considered going to Uppsala but that they didn’t think there were trains. I’d considered Uppsala, assuming I’d stay in Stockholm, and there seemed plenty of trains, so bear in mind that one’s a possibility. Unless I’ve missed something, but I wonder whether the number of train companies means it’s possible to check one operator and not find trains – seat61.com recommends sj.se, which I used with no issues – buy the tickets online, in advance for the best price (see the possible differences below!) and just show the pdf on a phone if you have one.

Train times and prices from Stockholm to Uppsala.
Stockholm to Uppsala

Results from Vallaskogen parkrun event 80, 6/6/22, 27 finishers.

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