Poland parkrun Double – “Z kim sie zadajesz, takim sie stajesz”
For those who have not read a report by Nikki and I (Nikki Tarrant –Collingwood AC, and Tim Gray – Chiltern Church Runners) there has sometimes been some confusion about who writes what – so just to be clear I write in this font “Tim Gray” and Nikki writes in this font “Nicola Tarrant”. Italics are from the itenarary. Good luck.
Friday 9th May
“Depart Stanstead at 06.10 on Ryanair flight to Gdansk, arriving Gdansk 09.15.”
That all sounds pretty straight forward doesn’t it? That was the first line of our itinerary, but it really doesn’t do justice to our efforts (and occasional confusion). Some of us booked hotels near Stanstead, and had a leisurely start (between 3 and 4). I did opt with the hotel sleepover option and meet some of the others for dinner a beer. This did mean I could get up at 4:15am and as I don’t do morning this was the best option. Others were up at 2 or even earlier. Some came from other airports – sometimes this was expected, sometimes not – Mystery Matt from Manchester (Stoke in reality, just using Manchester airport) was one source of confusion – Luton airport another, but least said about that the better! One really quite key member of the group arrived after the check in gate had closed – but Ryanair were all smiles and helpful, what could have been a tricky start (mainly) went well.
“A parkrun Poland team member will meet us for the transfer to the 3*Hotel Blick in Gdynia.
After settling in and lunch, Jakub, the parkrun Director for Poland and his team have then offered a choice of a visit to the Old City of Gdansk and the Solidarity Museum others can visit the attractive coastal resort of Sopot . We then plan to have an early supper in Sopot.”
Czesc (Hi) from Poland – we made it in two small coaches after Peter did his best to count heads and we milled about to make that as hard as possible. This was funny watching us all be rounded up as we did our best to not stand still as we compared parkrun stories.
We nearly all got access to our rooms despite being 2 hours ahead of check in, but one or two did need to hang on a little, which they did very stoically. This wasn’t really an issue as we only had a short turn around. I was more bothered about food so headed up the high street with a few others in search of a strong coffee and something to eat. This is when we discovered the love of cake shops in Poland. Back to the hotel for a short walk to the train station.
Jakub arrived as promised, and was the consummate guide as we embarked on our day by train to Gdansk – “Please keep your train tickets, you will need them tomorrow” we are told.
I think perhaps Peter Fordham (trip organiser) is a chap who likes to set challenging goals for himself, and so we set off for some whistle stop tourism – the museum and then the Monument to Solidarity, the piece of shipyard and Berlin wall, an armoured car, the old town, coffee stop – which by then I was desperate for, Lech Walesa’s office, tourist shops, the largest brick built church in Europe, pirate galleon(?), the docks, stop for a beer, pictures of Gdansk flattened in the war now painstakingly rebuilt – to be honest I get tired just writing about it – and I’m sure I missed stuff in the whirl.
This was a brief tour but we covered loads and kept us all awake. You really can feel the history in Gdansk and a realisation of how recent a lot of the history was. More cake shops all over the place.
We travelled back via Sopot and were reminded to keep our train tickets for the next morning. In Sopot we had a lovely meal (more beer, more coffee) at a restaurant owned by a parkrunner. Like all the restaurants we went to individual bills meant the whole ‘who had what’ calculation nightmare we suffer from in the UK was neatly avoided. This was so helpful for paying bills and was done seamlessly – England really could learn from this. One table (mine) held everyone else up because we had not heard the ‘ten minute warning’ and had ordered dessert (Also Dave (Wimbledon) and I were putting the world to rights)– never mind, it was very tasty! And by the time we had all got out the restaurant and finished chatting we were all together again.
Back to the hotel, evening briefing including a reminder to hang on to our train tickets and instructions to leave” just after 8”, “the parkruns at 8”, someone shouts, “sorry, just after 7” – towards the end “so please be prompt for 8, I mean 7” – everyone is tired by now. Not sure if some people went for drinks, not sure if I went for drinks, by this point knackered. Certainly James was busily interviewing for the parkrun show, as he did throughout the weekend.
Saturday 10th parkruns day!
I was really excited to try another parkrun in another country. So far every parkrun I have been to abroad they might as well be somewhere in England as its all the same, except for the odd sponsorship flag. The hotel put on an early breakfast (6am – 5am UK). Splendid, but can’t do it justice as parkruns ahoy! Yes more cake on the buffet!! More people have mysteriously arrived late at night – was there a plane I missed that did not go so early you could hear the first sparrow of the day farting?
We gather to go to our first parkrun, then on to Gdansk,” ready to go, does everyone have their train ticket?” – one person has forgotten (Tony) and scurries to get it. The parkrun is a short walk up the road and we stopped to check out where the evening restaurant was. We leave at around 7/8/7/8/7 – we finally settle on 7 and get there early for some pre run chat, and photos.
The 1st parkrun is Gdynia parkrun at 8.00 a.m. – and it is along the beautiful promenade – pancake flat on concrete and tarmac this is a fast fast course – with the sea to our left, and cannons to our right we set off. Becky is particularly impressive with crutch and moon boot to keep her splinter fracture under control she parkruns in under 41 minutes – the ‘tourist results’ are at the end of the report for both documents. We come from over 20 different parkruns (Roundshaw have 4 parkrunners the biggest contingent) and over 20 clubs (Chiltern Church Runners have 3 – we are also the slowest club! Ranelagh Harriers, Stragglers and Reading Roadrunners field 2 apiece).
There were PB’s for some runners returning to Gdynia; David Allison, Ian Giggs, and Ingrid Wagner (achieving her goal as she had said before the start she was hunting for one). Hannah Oldroyd almost equalled her, and the courses record as she achieved a first female finish. Whilst Peter Mannion achieved 2nd place (by age grade) behind Mary Humphries – with a very impressive 80.73%.
We also had support from Teresa who was under the weather and unable to run, but did cheer us on. Thanks for your support, hopefully next time you will be able to run it.
“Around 9 am transport will be provided to take us to the Gdansk parkrun for 10 a.m.”
A small fleet of taxi’s arrive and we whizz off to Gdansk. Some of us use the portable toilet (except for Dave [Bromley] who finds a ‘luxury’ toilet at the local garage – I think maybe some bling, a television, minibar etcetera. There is a camera man who briefly speaks to Steve and Pam – later to come out in one of the two very cool videos that are quickly produced after the weekend. The course is a mixture of one winter and one summer lap through a gorgeous park, with brief but lovely sea views, the two laps differing does claim some casualties as a small group of tourists over shoot on a corner that would normally be signed but has been overlooked, slowing them up a bit – yes that would be me (Nikki) and Ken. Most of us are fortunate enough to be on the tail of a local when we come to it, as otherwise I for one might well have done the same, I’ve got previous for getting lost though! David Allison is the only one of us to PB. Hannah again is the first female finisher – peter mannion is again 2nd place by age grade, with Steve Darby 3rd by age grade as well.
”We then return to Gdynia to freshen up”
Time is not on our side and Peter and Jakub flag down yet more taxi’s to get us back to the train, but they can’t be everywhere at once and our taxi starts of in the run direction – “Gdansk station” we say in flawless English, “Which one?” says the taxi driver equally clearly. “We don’t know we say”, but thinking fast and indeed clichéd “but they do, follow that taxi!” – we all make it to the right station, our taxi driver seems as relieved as we do.
Most of us settle for a quick change but Dave (Bromley) runs from the station to the hotel to fit in a quick shower – nice to see a man with priorities Dave. Panic – we need ID to pick up our race numbers, people look for passports, driving licenses, or credit cards. Fifteen of us scramble for the race start. We make it with 10 minutes to spare before number collection is due to close.
“ and for those not running the 10k at 1pm it is suggested that you spend the rest of the day exploring the Gdynia coastline or town”
Which I think many did, though I know one went to Gdansk, and another may have had just a little nap.
For those running the 10k we had a little rain, a brief dramatic hailstorm – and lots of fun, with tremendous support for the nearly 6000 runners from the Polish crowd. Speaking for myself I had a nice time, chatting away and a long downhill around 10k led us back to a chunk of the Gdynia parkrun we had done first thing.
Thanks Tim for running with me. Really fun – and topped off with a large hot dog and beer after the finish (anyone who says they saw me having this whilst going round is a liar – though I did nearly ask for a sip of someone’s beer at one point in the run as we ran past a bar) We were very close to grabbing the beers from the locals. Some people also got PB’s whilst there which shows the course has potential. The downhill stretch back to the sea was my favourite part.
Jonathan and Tony have to leave us, the first to go back, it has only been from late Friday to Saturday afternoon we have all been together.
“ before meeting up with the parkrun team for supper and drinks.”
More glorious Polish (Italian) food, more beer, then off to the bar for more beer (Lemon, pink grapefruit, and banana for me before I retire) – I hear the flavoured vodkas come out later. Yes, and I finally found Polish cider J
Sunday 11th May
“Pre- breakfast run for some, then weather permitting, by ferry or rail to Hel Peninsula, for lunch and afternoon.”
The Happiest parkrun in Poland! Polish volunteering in Gdynia “the town made of dreams and the sea” – Isabella Cigert (Gdynia parkrun – been volunteering for 5 weeks).The best Gdynia parkrunpedia, great interview with one of the volunteers about parkrunning in Poland, history of Gdynia. Interview done on a boat in the Baltic Sea, travelling to Hel. – Nikki you heard this bit, can you add more? Properly best to listen to the parkrun show as this summed it up nicely.
Some of us travel round Hel on little electric golf carts, others walk – apparently athletes don’t use golf carts, regardless I smile and wave, smile and wave as we sweep past those on foot. I did enjoy that too.
There’s loads of history to take in, the peninsula (briefly an island at one point during WWII) has had a town since 1198, it was one of the last Polish army strongholds to fall in the last war, and the last german occupied area of Poland to fall. Also some beautiful countryside and beaches.
Some of us even saw the seals.
The boat leaves at 3 sharp – shortly after Jakub checks in with Peter by text
“How’s it going? J”
“4 missed boat, 3 overboard – other than that all well. P”
“Shall I order a smaller coach for the morning? J”
In fact we all made it, but some with less time to spare than others.
Poor Steve and Ken (both Roundshaw) were both having a little nap on the ferry home from Hel, when suddenly they found themselves doing a slot for the parkrun show, which they handled well despite their rude awakening.
Meals out for some in swish conditions, beer and pizza in a takeaway with 4 tables for the self named ‘grumpy old men’s group’ – then the hotel bar for one (or two) more beers. We also found the bar we were meant to be in on Saturday night which was laid out like a boat. Lots of vodka flavour options – I loved the black cherry vodka the best.
Then back for some more parkrun show recording.
Then an early night - well we were in bed just before midnight.
Monday 12th May
We depart Gdynia at around 07.45 by coach for the flight departing at 10.15, arriving in Stansted at 11.30
More breakfast, though Matt and Dave (Wimbledon) have already been out for a run, Steve (Bedford) times it perfectly to walk in after them, giving the appearance of having run, without needing to have done so.
We say our goodbyes, sometimes more than once as the airport processing arrangements split us and reunite us in unpredictable groups. We head home.
Overall I had wonderful parkrun tour and would not hesitate to recommend the trip to any parkrunner. I know we talk a lot about drinking, but not everyone was. You also don’t have to do it all if you wish to do it at a slower pace and miss bits out. Although I do think you benefit from just going with it as it is well organised. The Polish parkrunners were very welcoming and both courses offer a PB potential time. The 10k was an added bonus, although you may want to do more training than me. It was a nice way to see more of the town and a good course. Thanks Tim for getting me round and listening to me go on. I have met some amazing parkrunners who I look forward to meeting again in the UK. Also a massive thank you to Peter and Jakub for all the organisation and look forward to the next one.
"Hi All! On behalf of our parkrun communities and mine I would like to thank you all for joining our parkrun events in Gdynia and Gdańsk at the weekend. It was the great pleasure for us to have you over there! Thanks to your presence we had an opportunity to witness the true parkrun nature of an initiative coming beyond the borders (I still wonder how many parkrun events were represented). I hope that you enjoyed your time despite the weather that was not perfect. Congratulations on your results in particular new PBs at Gdynia and Gdańsk! Hopefully, you can set new ones next year! I would also like to thanks for your donations that will support event resources in Poznań.
Some of you have already seen photos taken at the events. Those who haven't please go to our FB pages at https://www.facebook.com/ParkrunGdansk?ref=hl (Gdańsk) andhttps://www.facebook.com/pages/parkrun-Gdynia/138077303012134?ref=hl (Gdynia) where there are tons of photos as well as nice videos of the two events. Enjoy!
Finally, a big thank you to Peter who have started it and spent a lot of time to make it happen! Very much appreciated!