Many of us have run it big events, many in long events, hands up anyone who knows of one which give free beer to competitors…..before AND after the race.
Hopefully that got your attention, more on that later.
5 parkrunners, of which 4 run in red and one purple friend embarked on a trip with a difference. parkrun is how we came about to first know each other, that lead to Keith Conkerton’s idea of a trip to do Poznan parkrun and then half marathon the day after. Andrew Fewster, Phil Harland and myself joined Keith from East Hull Harriers and Christian Davies from City of Hull.
We flew from Stansted London on Friday morning to Poznan via Ryanair. Poznan airport is about 15 minutes from the city centre and a bus can be caught (Route L) for a few coins that stops actually very close to the start of the half marathon. It’s a 15 minute walk to the beautiful square of Poznan, and we stayed just round the corner from there. A very functional & nice 6 story apartment block which we found ourselves on the 4th floor. A spacious apartment that sleeps 7 split into two bedrooms, clean and comfy.
After some gorgeous beers on Friday evening, we rose early on Saturday to have a 30 minute walk down to the local parkrun, just north of where we were staying.
parkrun, one lapper in a beautiful park with friendly people, does not do it all justice. The park is called Cytadela Park on the site of Fort Winiary, a 19th-century fortified area north of the city centre. It contains a military museum, military cemeteries, and the remains of some of the fortifications, it opened in 1970. This was Keith’s 5th time there and as he is a minor celebrity in Poznan (random guy started taking close-up photos of him in the square one night) he was instantly recognised and greeted by the parkrun organisers. After 10-15 minutes of introductions, chatting and catching up it was time to start the run. It’s not flat, it’s got plenty of loops twists and turns, a bridge, some aeroplanes and four tanks from I assume 2nd world war era. We all agreed to take it easy, as we all wanted to save what we could for the half marathon the day afterwards. We all ended up running harder the planned, but not too hard. Keith even got a course PB!
Saturday afternoon we picked up our race pack, which included an (allegedly purple) bag, a technical T shirt, a gel, number and chip, pasta dish, and a bottle of beer. Some of us even got a sponge in the pack…some of us really missed out there! Nice. Saturday night was one of deciding what to do. How can we stop ourselves drinking the gorgeous beer and slowing ourselves down for the half the day after? We ended up in church….well the church café that sells wine, beer and Irish coffees! Very slow drink in there good chat and early(ish) night.
Sunday came and it was an early start and after subjecting Phil Harland to his birthday bumps (well we would have but we needed to save energy) it was time to see what the weather had instore. Well the only rain all trip was on that Sunday morning 8am-noon. It made for a wet half, but one that was conducive to good running. It is a really flat course and I would suggest fast. There are 13,000 entrants to the half so crowding is an issue as we did not get into our pens early enough, like many people we were trying to stay warm and dry. The course is wide and can accommodate many people but first few miles were not easy if you wanted to go sub 8 min miles, next time we will get in position earlier. The crowds on the side of the course were plentiful, the support felt like a major marathon, in terms of organisation I must say it all felt like a major marathon. The course goes from the city out to the outskirts though a type of countryside and back into the city. It is flat but any downhill is really in the last few miles allowing for a fast finish, very close to where we started. Then it was time to meet up, get bananas, free beer and eat a free pasta dish. Lovely! Sunday night was spent rehydrating and eating. We met up with some of Keith’s old friends from parkrun then settled down in an all-night bar and chatted to locals and even saw some magic.
Monday was home day, the sun was shining and it looked like it would have been a great day to sit outside and drink beer. But as with any trip the end comes and back home we travelled. The trip minus beer money was about £150 including the half, what not to like!
The half results:
- Christian: 01:45:21
- Phil: 01:42:07
- Andy: 01:40:53
- Keith: 01:40:14
- Mark: 01:39:18