Rheinpark Parkrun, Cologne

Rheinpark parkrun route. A one-lap made up of a couple of loops with a view of the Cathedral on the way back
Rheinpark parkrun route. One lap, head North and away from the Rhine to start, under the bridge and on the path near the river before turning right and coming back down the long straight, under the bridge again and along the river to the start/finish

There’s plenty of public transport in Cologne (see the course page for more), and it’s very accessible given the 9 euro ticket, but I chose to walk to Rheinpark. I was based very near the other parkrun, Aachaner Weiher in the Hiroshima-Nagasaki park, but it was still only a couple of miles to walk to Rheinpark.

Riverside view, with a sign high up saying "Rheinpark Tanzbrunnen" to welcome everyone. A large river cruiser is moored on the far side of the river, with Cologne's skyline behind it.
Welcome to Rheinpark

There are toilets 400m from the start, with a free urinal for men and a cubicle that’s €0.50.

The start and finish are in the same place, just beyond (if you’re approaching from the South) a covered part of the walkway in front of the Rheinterrassen Köln.

The word parkrun is chalked onto the tarmac, with further words explaining the concept just out of sight, further along the route. Blue pillars hold a concrete roof over this part of the riverside walkway
Chalk signs explain parkrun and guide you to the start

The start takes you right next to the river for a short while, before a right turn to head into a tree-lined loop. You’re very briefly taken out of the park, past a low concrete wall, before following the twisty route back towards the river. The top section of the course has two long straights, the first along a mud-packed or grassy path (depending where you put your feet or who is in the way), then back along a wide gravelly road. The latter seemed particularly long, perhaps because it was almost entirely in the sun on a day warming towards 34 degrees (but ‘only’ low 20s for the event).

A hard-packed wide mud path heads through a field with trees to both sides of the field
Heading North

The course is very well marked, with arrows to point you in the right direction and red cones on either side of the correct path. Despite that, one runner ahead of me tried to head through a narrow gap as we headed back towards the river – we waved her back onto the path, but her mistake was understandable, as we were looking for the path by the river, and going through the trees would have taken her closer. That North section, then, is by the river, but not right by it, which is worth bearing in mind.

A hard-packed muddy section in the middle of green grass shows where mostly people have walked
A potentially muddy path

Making the turn after the long earth path takes you onto a few cobbles and then that long gravelly section. Nothing much to do here but get on with it, as the route takes you past port workings and grass.

A wide gravelly road with hedges on the left and a grassy bank on the right. The grass is mostly yellow for lack of water.
Heading back South, a long gravelled stretch
The Zoobrücke is a concrete bridge, high above the wide tarmacced path here. A skatepark os on the left, and trees are dotted around by the sides of the path
Heading back under the Zoobrücke towards the finish

I struggled on the second half of the course, and was glad to see the bridge and some shade, before attempting a bit more of a gallop towards the finish. The Cathedral comes into view but by then I was more excited by the finish – from any distance, it’s easier to spot the complex that stands above it, and that covered walkway, than the parkrun flag, but you can’t miss the finish when anywhere near.

Cologne Cathedral is far away but still dominates the skyline on the far side of the river. A wide path heads along the riverside, with a large tree providing shade. A humped bridge (the Hohenzollernbrücke) in the distance leads to the city centre.
View of the Dom on the walk back

The whole event was well run and organised. There was no move to a cafe at the end, with people wandering off to do their own thing, and I made it back to the centre of town before it got really hot. There are a few cafes to the South of the route, which were opening up as I walked past, though they looked more focused on drinking, and I think I would have tried the West side of the river for preference if I’d fancied going anywhere. Instead, I enjoyed the sun and the warmth of the city before a well-earned shower back in Neumarkt.

Results from Rheinpark parkrun event 49, 13/8/22; 19 finishers.

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