Thursday 24 May – Day 1
The parkrun HQ tour of the Nordics needed to be a tightly-run ship, as there was a lot of ground to be covered. Straight off the plane we headed north to Uppsala parkrun, where we were greeted by three members of the core team, Mattias, Eleanor and Regina.
We gathered at the local landmark, Pelle Svanslös, where the tail (or rather lack of one) marks the start line, and then strolled along the river in unseasonally glorious sunshine along the route of the parkrun. Strong wills were required not to hop into the Fyrisån river running alongside us; instead we headed back for the first of several fika-stops this weekend at the parkrun café, Konditori Fågelsången.
From there it was back south along the E4 motorway to Hagaparken, where there was a friendly bunch of parkrunners waiting to greet us. Paul was interviewed by ‘Sverige på Fötter’ (‘Get Sweden Active’ might be the best translation) and showed off his new found Swedish language skills on film.
It was then time for a jog around the Haga parkrun route, stopping of course at the iconic landmark of the Koppartälten (Copper Tents) for a quick snap.
Later we gathered at Mosebacke Terrassen with other Core team members and key volunteers from the Stockholm based parkrun teams. It was a stunning evening and the view across the city didn’t disappoint.
Friday 25 May – Day 2
The first stop for the day was Oslo, although half of our party almost didn’t make it after taking the wrong turn on the way from the gate to the plane, passing into a corridor through a door that shut behind them……
Landing in Oslo it felt more like southern Europe as we walked off the plane in the baking heat. We made our way to Tøyen parkrun and ran around the park, which was full of sunbathing Norwegians.
Paul was determined to get in the full 5km, and so was the only one of the team to make it up the hill four times. That Norwegian freedom run is now logged! Coffee afterwards in the delightful courtyard café in the Botanical Gardens gave us a real taste of Saturday mornings here at Tøyen parkrun.
From there it was then onwards to Copenhagen, switching to the train to get us over the bridge to Sweden and to meet the team at the relatively new Malmö Ribersborg parkrun.
Not quite enough time to jump in the pools at the Ribersborg Kallbadshus, which would have been tempting, but at least a chance to talk to Phil and Katherine and hear about their experiences so far in getting Malmö Ribersborg parkrun established in Sweden’s third city. It’s a beautiful route and the team are doing an amazing job.
Finally it was then back over the water to Denmark for an evening get together with representatives from all three Copenhagen events, Amager Fælled, Amager Strandpark and Fælledparken.
These core team volunteers have been keeping the spirit of parkrun alive in Denmark for so many years, and never miss an event. True dedication and a love of what parkrun offers and stands for. Thank you to all of you for what you do.
Saturday 26 May – Day 3
Our choice of Copenhagen parkrun was dictated by where we were heading next, and as that was north, it was Fælledparken that we plumped for on Saturday morning.
This is held in a delightful city park, where the route takes you three times around the tree lined perimeter of the park, surrounding a wonderful green expanse in the middle. It was another stunning day in Scandinavia and already at 9.00 we were glad of the pockets of shade on the route.
Like most of the events in Denmark, the route is marked out by small arrows on the ground made of flour, an ingenious and environmentally friendly way of marking out the course. You can also write out other relevant information too!
We had a great turnout with 141 people taking part, breaking the previous course record, and only a few shy of the 146 record previously set in Amager Fælled parkrun.
This was followed by a well-attended parkrun brunch, where we mingled with parkrunners from all around the world. You don’t expect to meet many runners from Azerbaijan, but here we did, along with the core group of dedicated Danish parkrunners, many bearing 50, 100, and 250 shirts, a reminder of how long parkrun has been going in this corner of the world.
We then headed north to check out a prospective new venue at Helsingør. The proposed route takes you on three loops around the famous Kronborg castle, and we know that when this one is up and running it’s going to be a real ‘destination parkrun’.
Prospective Event Director Thomas Hvidt walked us around one lap of the course, bringing us back to the finish point by the harbour. Watch this space on this one.
Several hours and a few hundred kilometres later we were drawing up at the small but perfectly formed Vejen parkrun, to meet Klaus (with a K) and Claus (with a C).
Like the other Danish events, with out any fanfare, this team have been delivering their event every week (without a single cancellation!) for 8 years, despite the fact that their average attendance is only in the teens. It’s an intimate affair, but you will be assured a warm welcome if you come and run here (its proximity to Legoland means that visitors from overseas find their way here quite frequently).
And what a delightful route. After 1km out on a wider track, you then run three laps of an enchanting deciduous forest, winding your way on a trail through the trees, before heading back to the finish.
The last stop for the day was Esbjerg, a port on the west coast of Jutland. And once again, the parkrun course did not disappoint.
A two-lapper, this took you through shady forest, out and around a lake, across a couple of small bridges, all on gently undulating gravel trails.
Later in the evening we met Run Director Beinta, who shared with us her story of how she first agreed to volunteer at parkrun to encourage a friend, and now finds her passion for parkrun undimmed after many years and hundred of events later.
Sunday 27 May – Day 4
After a short drive, we find ourselves in Horsens, where we are checking out a route for a potential new event.
Bygholm Park is a delightful setting for a parkrun, the well-tended parkland and lakes reflecting the elegance of the manor house situated at the start and finish and which is now a busy hotel.
We take one circuit of the two-lap route, and hope that we will be able to return one day to run on a Saturday morning.
Then it’s on to Aarhus, Denmark’s second city, and to Brabrand parkrun, which can be found in a country park on reclaimed land in the west of the city.
From the starting point of the parkrun, we climb up a hill to get a panoramic view across the course, which looks amazing.
We’re then received at the home of Henning Lorenzen for lunch, and are greeted by a familiar sight, flour arrows to mark the way to the lunch table!
Finally for the day, the team flew onwards to Helsinki, ready for the final leg of the trip. To be continued…..
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Last week I was over in the UK taking part in a ‘parkrun Global’ Operations meeting. They collectively make sure that everything works properly on a Saturday morning around the world. It’s been a chance to see how the decisions for parkrun events get made, and have the opportunity to also contribute to this process,…