This week at Tampere parkrun we demonstrated what a global phenomenon parkrun has become when the event hosted visitors from as far afield as the Arctic Circle and the Gold Coast in Australia.
These two locations are 15,000 km apart but it’s not just distance that separates these two places but climate and culture too.
For Paula Raudasoja this was her first parkrun, taking advantage of a trip down to Tampere (where her children were running in the Tampere Indoor Junior Games) to run her first ever event. Paula comes from the city of Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland and home to 60,000 people.
Perhaps best known internationally as the home of Santa Claus, Rovaniemi is a thriving tourist destination and a great place to see the Northern Lights. (But no parkrun there yet!). Tampere may be the world’s most northernly parkrun, but it’s still another 700km or an 8+ hour drive to make it up to Rovaniemi.
Paula runs all year around to her work as a nurse, and she thought parkrun was a great form of running event where it was easy to participate. She will be back!
From the other side of the world came Tony Jennings, from the Sunshine Coast, Australia. He is a rather more experienced parkrunner, with this being his 227th parkrun. His story of how he reached Tampere is a great parkrun tale! The Tampere event team received the following message last week:
“I usually run in a very hot tropical climate. I have done 96 different parkruns in Australia and one in Singapore. Last week after sweltering in another hot and humid day”
I decided to do a run in England as they a had a cold snap and some snow. On arriving here in England, it’s cold and wet, but no snow. So I did a bit of research and decided to find the snowiest parkrun on the planet. From looking at a whole load of photographs, I chose yours, so I’ll be there Saturday.”
True to his word, Tony turned up in Tampere, this time slightly heavily dressed than the previous week! (See the photo at the head of this article, with Tony together with fellow runner Svetlana, who had herself travelled from St Petersburg, Russia).
Tony explains more about what introduced him to parkrun, and what he loves about it:
“I started parkrun almost exactly five years ago (30/03/13) and have been attending almost every week. I love the idea of a free community event that promotes fitness, a bit of competition if you want it and the opportunity to use it as an excuse to travel. Since I started “touristing” I’ve been to places in Australia I never would have gone otherwise. Now I’m experiencing the same in the wider world. I like to have theme that keeps my interest in parkrunning fresh. I’m not really a natural runner, so I like to turn the trip into an adventure. Back home I’ve cycled multi days to parkrun, kayaked 70kms to parkruns and driven over 2000kms round trip for a 25 minute run in 24 hrs.”
“This current trip was a spur of the moment desire to find the most northern parkrun in the world. Then turn it into a tour of Finland, Norway and England with three parkruns over three weeks. Interestingly my main motivation for parkrun specifically is that I have a pesky heart condition, and I know that at least once a week I can run my guts out as hard as I can in the relative comfort that if I collapse, I’ll be in good company. In fact the person who introduced me to parkrun was also a cardiac athlete. As for my visit to Tampere, it was awesome! The contrast to the conditions I usually run in was truly dramatic. Which is another aspect of what I like about parkrun. On a flat warm course I’m sub 24 minute on a good day, at my home hilly trail run I’m sub 32 minute on a good day. So the cold and snow conditions at Tampere sit right in the middle.”
“I really enjoyed the friendly welcome I received and help with my tourist activities too. Doing the sauna and lake plunge was invigorating and Olli taking me to the hockey was fun. I would definitely recommend Tampere as a place to visit for parkrun and all this lovely city has to offer.”
So although 15,000 km may divide them, parkrun helped to bring them together, two people from the opposite ends of the globe. parkrun is truly a global phenomenon!
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