Posts Tagged With: TPOT

Feeling the parkrun love – back to Bushy parkrun to join the TpoT troupe. #parkrunfriendsarethebest

Digested read: back at Bushy parkrun this week to meet up with Tralee parkrunners on Tour.  It was jolly nice.


Undigested read:

I wasn’t going to do another blog post about Bushy parkrun, because, well you know, maybe cyberspace is already awash with enough parkrun accounts, and then I went and you know how it is.  The fabulousness of the morning unfolded and it just seems a shame to let it pass undocumented.  Reading this account is optional after all, and I like the idea that I can capture my fond memories of the morning before they fade away entirely. Also, I really, really wanted to share this picture.  I don’t know who drew it unfortunately, but apparently a GP, presumably from Durham as Durham parkun originally shared.  So many truths within, perhaps not quite all universal ones – personally I’ve abandoned any aspiration to a new pb, and my alarm goes off way earlier than 8.10 – but the other aspects of the parkrun emotional rollercoaster I can completely relate to.  Particularly the axis (can’t remember if it’s x or y) that charts the shift from being ‘bitter and resentful’ to ‘loving life’!  So true!  Thank you J Stutchbury(?).  Great name by the way.  When I’m a best selling author I’m going to name a character after you.

parkrun emotional rollercoaster

Where was I?  Oh yes, heading off to Bushy parkrun.  The reason for this particular sojourn was to coincide with the pathologically lovely TpoT people!  That’s Tralee parkrunners on Tour for the uninitiated.  I have the extreme good fortune to have become an honorary member of this group that oozes parkrun love and general all-round fabulousness.  It was they who invited me to join them for my first bit of international parkrun tourism at Hasenheide parkrun last year.  The Tralee Troupe have tourism down to a fine art, cheap flights from Kerry airport mean they seem to relatively frequently take flight en masse and descend on parkruns the world over.  I wasn’t sure if they should be more accurately described as a troop or a troupe.  According to the interweb, troop apparently usually refers to a group of soldiers or people more generally, whereas a troupe implies a traveling contingent of theatrical performers.  I rest my case.  Any parkrun contingent including a juggler in their midst surely qualifies as the latter?  A toupee is something entirely different, and arises from either a typo or a spelling error, so hope we’ve cleared that up.

tpot juggling still

The real miracle is how they can literally remove 100 parkrunner regulars who head off on these trips, but still leave behind a fully operational parkrun with 200 plus people running the parkrun show. Awesome!

Hooray.  I have the official orange beanie that marks me out as such.  Not going to lie, it isn’t the most flattering item in my running wardrobe, but it is among my most valued ones, who doesn’t like glory by association?  I’m super chuffed to get to be an acknowledged part of such an awesome parkrun troupe.  Strictly speaking I think I must be on probation at the moment, as I’ve not actually yet got to run at Tralee parkrun itself.  One day I hope to actually go and run on their hallowed course at Tralee, and that will make my membership truly official. They haven’t actually said it out loud, but I know in my heart of hearts I can only ever be considered to be on probation until I’ve joined the Tralee parkrunners in all their glory in their native habitat. It’s little wonder that Tralee parkrun is most definitely at the top of my parkrun tourism destinations for the future.  I’ll need to renew my passport first mind

Oh, here is the picture of me modelling my TpoT hat.  ‘nuf said. When I’m a best selling author I’m not using this shot to illustrate my author’s bio, but I can still be weirdly fond of the beanie all the same.  After all, who wouldn’t experience a little puff of pride and pleasure and a frisson of joy for being able to sport such a beacon of shared identity and gain glory by association with surely the most famed of parkrun tourists anywhere!  If I’d given it a bit more forethought, I’d have adopted a t-pot pose for the picture as well, but not quite sure how that would work doing a selfie, which is not my area of expertise at the best of times, maybe the world has had a lucky escape on all counts!  I’m not saying I won’t try some other time, but some things are best not shared aren’t they.  We can take social media too far…


Where was I.  Oh yes, staying in Teddington, up early to allow sufficient time to get into my new sports bra – which I’m testing out for Brooks – it’s a juno, and doing ok.  Having wrestled into this, I headed off to Bushy park via my mum’s.  She was taking her honorary marshaling duties very seriously, and had all her kit laid out in readiness, including a bespoke sign for the TpoTs and her fine orange beanie, also gifted to her by the lovely folk of Tralee, partly as a ninetieth birthday present and partly to allow her to demonstrate support to the parkrunners on the move.  Hurrah!

It was blooming cold in the park, but really beautiful.  I’d been really worried about the ice and forecast of arctic conditions, but in fact, although there was some ice around, it was limited to patches and the roads were clear.  Mum would be making it through the magic gateway…


The sun was popping through the trees, and all looking fabulous as always. I love this park.  It’s extraordinary how it continues given the amount of people and dog walkers and everything else that use it every day.  Even so, you can feel like you have the whole expanse to yourself if you time your arrival right in the early mornings.

I borrowed some pictures from the Bushy parkrun facebook page, well they were quite fabulous. Some are mine, general rule of thumb is where a shot is blurry and erm, idiosyncratic, it’s probably mine, if it looks like a vision of heaven and is perfectly focused and composed, then it probably isn’t.  You’ll work it out.

I was distracted by squawking parakeets and silhouettes of stags in the park and the sight of seagulls standing around on ice and swans thrusting through it like ice breakers.  Eventually though, I saw a beacon approaching.  A fellow TpoTer.  These hats may not flatter, but my they do mean you can spot a fellow sporter of one at a thousand paces. Very handy.

I always get a little frisson of excitement arriving at Bushy parkrun.  The set up is so impressive.  A team was putting the finish funnel up – it is a thing of beauty, and elsewhere token sorter tables were being erected and other bits of purposeful blustering about were going on.  It’s the same but not at every parkrun.  Familiar elements but writ large here.

I dumped my backpack on a handy tree railing:


and then I soon found myself meeting and greeting my Tralee buddies, not seen since Berlin Hasenheide parkrun yet I feel like I know them, it was a grand reunion. There were so many of them.  I don’t know what the collective noun is for a group of Tralee parkrunners but it’s probably a magnificence of parkrunners I think.  That will serve for now at least.

Everything about Bushy parkrun is epic.  Today, there was (obviously) a flash mob, singing and dancing to celebrate a fellow runner’s 500th run.    They were wearing face masks and everything, which sounds a bit weird and stalkery when I write it down, but in context was both appropriate and brilliant.

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I don’t know why I was surprised. This is the parkrun that once had a fly past for someones milestone tee!  I’m sure I’ve seen a video clip somewhere, though I’m darned if I can find it just now… maybe one day.

It was a busy morning, what with various people trying to rendezvous with each other.  One of my Tralee buddies was lamenting that he couldn’t spot a friend he was trying to find, as although he’d promised to wear his 250 milestone tee in order to be distinctive, but frankly, here at Bushy parkrun they honestly aren’t that much of  a rarity!   In better news, I was able to reassure that yep, mum was coming. The cold wouldn’t stop her, but ice would have, but I’d checked her route from the nursing home and astonishingly it was clear.  Hooray.  It actually turned into the most unexpectedly glorious of mornings. At least one errant parkrunner is known to have come to regret rolling over in bed and going back to sleep on parkrun morning…

dont miss parkrun

I suppose as long as you learn from your mistakes, that is the important thing…  Like the running cup from lidl, and are those the Kingston phone boxes I see.  That’s pretty cool actually, but not as cool as parkrun obviously.  Fortunately there is always next Saturday.  Unless you live in Durham and a forest has been planted over your usual Durham parkrun route whilst you were sleeping.  I mean trees are good, and planting them is excellent, but a bit of communication might have helped all round…

Mr S-H was present, which was a surprise, as I’d have thought he’d be much too busy with his contra range right now. I understand he personally supervises every item produced, with some enthusiasm, if the photos are to be believed.  I reckon he might even iron on those spots himself you know, bet that bit is quite rewarding.  I have one of the sage base layer tops, it’s roasty toasty.   It’s official colour is ‘green marl’ by the way, but I have no idea what that actually means, except it probably means sage, just so you know.

personally made by psh himself

Maybe he was there because his better half was part of the fame-inspired flash mob.  (Cheery wave, I would have said hello, but you were mid star-jump at the time) wearing the face mask didn’t fool me.   Or maybe they were both there, with dog, because, well you know, parkrun is fun.

I was distracted by so many people to talk to, and such a hubbub.  The ground was declared to be icy in parts, so after the first timer’s briefing


marshals were dispatched to their marshal points, and

then we were all shooed a bit further over than usual for the Run Director’s briefing. They had slightly shifted the start to avoid a HUGE icy patch just before the ant hills.  This made the pre run understandably but uncharacteristically chaotic and I couldn’t honestly hear properly. I improvised and clapped along when it seemed as if audience participation was expected and then joined the mass scamper of the start when the parkrun was declared underway.

Considering how many runners there are, it was a good natured start.  I started a bit further forward than intended, so it seemed as if pretty much the entire field got to overtake me. Oh well, one day I’ll cause a sensation by overtaking someone, even if it is only because they have to stop to rescue a puppy from up a tree or something.

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Being in among so many runners is uplifting though.  I love that you get to hear the chit-chat of other runners, putting the world to rights, comparing running goals or injuries or good-naturedly trying to shove their 500 milestone running friend into an icy bog.  What larks eh?


She survived the support of her friends and made it through to the finish funnel and reviving prosseco though, so don’t feel too sorry for her…

survived the ice

On the way round were excellent marshals, including mini marshals with bells, warning of ice, and wearing their own special hi-vis for the occasion.

However, a special mention should go to the especially heroic paramedic ice marshal, who, disappointingly, wasn’t actually made of ice, but who put himself in harm’s way, by standing on a huge skiddy patch of treacherous ice, just before you turn sharp left beside the cricket pitch, shooing people away. That’s parkrun dedication.  And I thought standing in a line of human cones at the start of Graves junior parkrun was scary!  I’ve never seen a braver marshal than this top man today.  Hurrah to you my friend. There should be a special chrome extension badge for your profile for brave parkrun duties ‘above and beyond’ if I had anything to do with it.  I think something like this would be appropriate:

pow badge

I trotted on through the cold, admiring my fellow runners legging choices and taking in the views:

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As I approached the half way point, I was wondering if my mum would have made it out in the cold as planned.  Good news, I could see her bright orange hat like pulsing outwards like a radioactive beacon.  I was very pleased.  Even more pleased to find as I approached she already had a Tralee parkrun acolyte with her, and what’s more, she was successfully brandishing the signage I’d supplied for this purpose.   Nicely tooled up. Result!  🙂  The bikes aren’t hers by the way, in case you were wondering…

mum and TpoT signs

Though no, I still don’t know why the Irish flag has those colours.  Note to self, must google this…

Obviously I paused for the first of many photo shots!

It was fun.  There was quite a party atmosphere, so I elected to hang on and wait for others to get their photo ops and for further Tralee parkrunners to rock on up

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There was quite a multitude!

I feel I’ve really missed a marketing opportunity here!  It was a fair old pop up party going on at Elisabeth’s Corner today.  Eventually I saw a huge Tralee contingent, festooned with flags, weighed down with cards and coming round just ahead of the tail walker.  It was lovely. They presented cards, posed with photos, said lovely things.  All very touching to behold.

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Don’t worry though dear reader, she did her best not to neglect her regular runners, there were high-fives and waves a-plenty. It really is the best thing ever about parkrun, the feel good waves that radiate outwards.  Good will doesn’t weaken as it disperses, it magnifies.

be kind

‘In a world where you can be anything be kind’ is a good motto, and for me at least, parkrun personifies that ethos.  Kindness cubed and magnified in all directions.  Excellent multi-tasking going on there though, I’m sure you’ll agree, with waving at oncoming runners happening whilst simultaneously greeting those already present.  Look on in wonder and learn dear reader.  Impressive eh?

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So, I’d pretty much ground to a halt now, and the tail runners were coming round.  Now, I’ve been wanting to meet some of this fine cohort for a while now, as I keep seeing them in photos with my mum, and feel therefore like I know them even though we’ve never met.  I decided today was the day, and ended up walking round with the tails, which are multiple here at Bushy parkrun and all the better for it. The back of the pack is often the fun factory of any event in my experience, and Bushy parkrun is no exception.  It was really grand to walk and talk and share some laughs along the way too.  Love parkrun!

Said farewell to the marshals at Elisabeth’s corner as they dispersed once the tail walkers had come through

and then I sort of split my time between trotting ahead with the Tralee parkrunners for a bit, and then dropping back to chit-chat with the tails.  Busy, busy, busy.  The sun was out, the park looked gorgeous, as it always does to be fair, but I was so pleased that the weather smiled on tourists and home runners alike.

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Yes, of course we posed for photos along the way:


and I stopped to snap a few marshals, not sure I got the full set, but my I-spy book of parkrun marshals sticker book is pretty full:

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and on we romped

Until finally the finish funnel was in sight

and I stormed(ish) through, feeling like a winner, because everyone’s a winner at parkrun right?  Having a personal worst just means I got best value for time out on the course.  It was an emotional run, so much positivity, so much parkrun love, so much all round awesomeness.

and then ‘suddenly’ it ends. Only it doesn’t really, post parkrun celebrations were everywhere, cakes being doled out, prosecco poured, and cheery laughter permeating the park.

As one poster said, if Carlsberg did mornings…

if carlsberg did mornings

Until finally, we dispersed, and I headed back to my mum’s to admire her latest lot of cards, birthday cards this time, to complement the Christmas stash, all of which absolutely delighted her, as they did me. Thank you lovely parkrun people.

and that was that.  Job done, til next time.  Which pleasingly, would be tomorrow, with the monthly Bushy junior parkrun. Hurrah!  Two days on the trot with my lovely TpoTers.  Life is good.  🙂


Miss it.  Miss out. Just sayin!

HW atmosphere

Oh, and there is an official run report for Bushy parkrun event 774 2 feb 2019 here.

and an even lovelier one for the following week giving details of all the Bushy parkrun marshal points including Elisabeth’s corner for the 9th Feb report. Love this.

For all my parkrun related posts click here.  Or don’t. It’s up to you. You’ll need to scroll down for older entries though

Categories: 5km, parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ich bin ein Berliner?** Becoming an international athlete courtesy of TpOT and Hasenheide parkrun Berlin :) OMG!

Digested Read:  First foray into international tourism took me to Hasenheide parkrun in Germany.  Might be easier just to think of it as Berlin parkrun.  It was just like a ‘normal’ parkrun but in Germany, and surrounded by the Tralee parkrun family draped in the Irish tricolour!  How brilliant is that!  Who knew?

tpot classic shot

Unabridged account:

The undigested read is kind of complicated.  Sooooooooooooooooo very much I want to say, to be honest, you might find it a bit much to listen to it, but I won’t notice if you want to go off and do something and pop back later when I’ve run out of steam, could be a while though.  You’ve got time to make and drink a cup of tea, walk the dog and defrost the fridge.  If you don’t already have a dog, you’ve probably even got time to research which dog you’d like to adopt, argue with your family and friends about which might be the best fit, visit it, book in a home visit, wait for it to have its vaccinations and finally go and collect it and let it settle in over night before taking it out for the walk,  but it’s up to you.  If it’s cold outside you might be just in the mood for sitting on the sofa, watching TV whilst idly reading a random blog post in between scratching yourself and eating crisps, each to their own.

If I was in a position to re-home a dog, I think I’d currently go with Scamp, I can really relate to having awkwardly shaped hobbit feet and aspiring to achieve sole occupancy of a most capacious looking sofa, I think we’d get on fine.  Might need to organise a two-sofa household, but that’s doable…


So this was the weekend when I took my parkrun career to new heights by going international.  Berlin parkrun to be specific.  Hurrah!  There’s more to it than that though, isn’t there always?  It all began way, way back in the mists of time, about this time last year to be fair.  About the time my mum became launched as a parkrun icon.  Hopefully you know about that already, or we really are in for a long one.  Basically, my mum got featured in one of the parkrun uk news posts because at 89 she is a regular fixture on the Bushy parkrun route as she walks across from the care home where she lives to clap and cheer parkrunners every Saturday morning.  One of the regular parkrunners had dropped off a Christmas card for her, and mum was super chuffed to receive it.  She has been made an honorary marshal in recognition of her support, and even has her own hi-viz – I know of only one other marshal to have been honoured in this way.  Quite rightly, her spot on the route has become known as ‘Elisabeth’s Corner’ and is about the half way mark if you are visiting to complete your parkrun pilgrimage and inclined to pause for a selfie.  Anyways, on the back of her becoming a media sensation, Tralee parkrunners, who I now know are inclined to go off en masse for parkrunning related adventures, had already planned a Tralee trip to Bushy parkrun for early in the new year.  Unfortunately, when they went, my mum was poorly, but undeterred, they nipped over to the care home on the off-chance they’d get to see her anyway, and they did!  They showered her with good wishes and gifts. They’d wanted a photo to capture the occasion and set about trying to find someone before my mum interjected with the now legendary words ‘why not just take a quick selfie?’.  And they did – hang on, let me see if I can find it…

selfie tralee

There you go.  Isn’t that just lovely?  From hereon-in a legend was born and new friendships forged. The Tralee team contacted me and kindly sent me the image as well as the anecdote – I don’t honestly know which is more priceless, the photo, or the selfie request.  My mum has indeed come a long way from the first time someone tried to high-five her and she shook their hand instead, she’s a total pro now.  Can do high tens and everything:

mum kudos

Fast forward, and a few Facebook messages and emails later I found I not only had a framed photo of some ‘random’ people I’d never met on the mantelpiece in my living room, but also an invitation to join the TpOTs (that’s Tralee parkrunners On Tour) at a future time, specifically Berlin parkrun, which we all now know and love as Hasenheide parkrun, later in the year.  I thought about this a lot.  I mean, it’s silly really, getting on a plane and flying hundreds of miles to run 5k with a bunch of people you’ve never met… and then I thought, but why wouldn’t I?  How much fun would be had?  And anyway, for all those who think Germany might be a very long way to go ‘just’ to run/walk/jog 5k (unless you live in Germany already I suppose) two points:  Firstly, you are clearly not a parkrunner so will never understand though I hope one day you’ll come join the party and secondly) what is even more peculiar is people who go all the way on holiday to e.g. Germany (other destinations are available) for no reason at all, and therefore miss out on doing a parkrun.  Upshot was, I was in.  Accommodation booked, flight booked, we shall make it so.

I didn’t think about it all that much until a few days before departure.  I was a bit apprehensive, first time as an international athlete, and no idea what to expect, plus there was the burden of packing all that was needed.  Never, ever has it been more important to attend to this:

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I remembered mine, which is a minor miracle as I had to keep unpacking it to make sure I really hadn’t forgotten to pack it, thereby increasing the likelihood of leaving it behind as it was now removed from my case.  In the end I wore it – I have one of those original wrist bands, which are fabulous by the way.  Pricey, but has always scanned.

It’s ages since I’ve left the UK, and I’ve never travelled to Germany before so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  I’m always a bit apprehensive arriving in new countries alone, especially towards the end of the day.  I’m by no means an experienced traveller, but generally I try to arrive at new destinations in daylight and at the start of a day as it gives time to sort out any hiccups.   However, I can report that for all practical matters, obviously, the best way to undertake any international parkrun tourism is to get yourself fostered by Tralee parkrun, and just gatecrash their plans.  Worked for me.  They have their systems totally nailed and look out for one another too.

I did have to book my flight independently as I was travelling from Manchester rather than Kerry, but EasyJet were passable, and I got flights that broadly arrived and departed at the same time as their coach load – or more accurately plane load – of travellers was due.  Unfortunately, their flights subsequently changed which meant the expected meet up was no longer a given.  Originally I’d been landing 15 minutes before them, so figured I’d seek them out and follow them to the hotel, now they’d be arriving first.  Curses.  My flight was fine  My pilot was even awake enough not to overshoot the airport by dint of being asleep for example, which is apparently not a given on all aviation travels – check out this article ‘Asleep pilot missed destination in Australia if you don’t believe me and aren’t worried about being made too scared to ever fly anywhere ever again (though that would be better for the environment to be fair.’  I’d only got carry on luggage so it was super speedy emerging from the terminal, and then, as I stepped out into arrivals I saw the best thing ever.  It looked like this:

welcome to Berlin

A customised sign being brandished by a gang of broadly smiling, pathologically friendly and welcoming Tralee parkrunners.  They had made their way to find me and waited to greet me – particularly impressive as we’d arrived at different terminals.  It was the best thing ever!  In my half century of years I’ve only ever once before been met on arrival at an airport and it was wonderful.  I might have got something in my eye, not for the last time this trip either.   They not only had a sign, but the mobile phone displaying my name was playing Lucy themed music!  You can’t get very much more fabulous than that.  I felt quite the celebrity.  Plus, it was brilliant not to have to fathom the transport network and route to the hotel on my own.  Rather I could just parasitise the labours of this dream team, and all would be well.  Although we hadn’t really met before, well not all of them, a satellite mission to Graves junior parkrun and Bakewell earlier in the year had introduced me to some, we just went straight in for the parkrun family hugs.  Well, it would be weird to do otherwise after having shared my front room with at least two of them for nearly a year now.

I exchanged my pre-purchased 72 hour Visit Berlin Welcome pass for a physical ticket and guide book.  A wheeze well worth doing by the way, though make sure if you arrive at Schonefeld Airport you get the Berlin ABC Ticket. A,B and C are the different zones, and our airport was in Zone C.  An absolute bargain though, for duration of our trip, the 72 hour ticket costs €30.90, plus you get a map on arrival and a load of discounts on tourist attractions.  They’d worked out the route to our hotel, I just followed.  Good to know though, there is always time for a photo op, here I am surrounded by my welcoming committee and new best friends forever.  I look somewhat ruffled from my travels, they are glorious and gorgeous, radiating warmth and enthusiasm for the adventure ahead.

The journey to our hotel was very straightforward.  From the airport train station, there was an overground train to Hermanstraße, which took about 26 minutes. Then we changed and got the ‘true’ underground train for 2 stops to Boddinstraße. The hotel was about a 5 minute walk from there.  However, I only know this because I sheep like trotted along behind the person who had the right app on their phone to direct us. Which was fine until his battery went flat, and then fine again when the day was saved by the speedy production of a back up charger.  Tralee parkrunners are prepared for anything. I’d go so far as to say I’d feel safe with them anywhere and would happily follow them to the ends of the earth if they’d let me, though we may have to take it in stages starting with Berlin and with Denmark and Sweden to aspire to in 2020.

Although the main group of 100+ Tralee parkrunners had gone on ahead, we actually caught up with them in the hotel foyer where some were still good-naturedly queuing for their rooms.  They did everything good-naturedly though, so that can be taken as their default demeanour.  So it was I joined the Tralee parkrun crew to the Mercure Hotel near Tempelhof Airport (site of the Berlin air lift).  The hotel had revolving doors.  What more do you need to know?

Oh, and you had haribos in your room which was a nod to running clothes deliveries from wiggle so quite cool, even though I’m vegetarian so they aren’t really my thing, and they had a penchant for serving things in jam jars – humus and soup in the instance above.  What is that about and when will it stop?  I blame hipsters, even though I still don’t know quite what they are.

So, the logistical stuff.  It was great location being a short walk from the parkrun start, and a few hundred yards away from the nearest underground at Boddinstraße Berlin,had revolving doors (always a boon), and a breakfast that had my eyes popping out on stalks with its many and varied possibilities.  Without a parkrun to entice me outside, I could happily have spent all day there just grazing until I burst unceremoniously.  Fantastically quiet in the room too, so I’d recommend that option. It’s not a budget option but not unreasonable either if you book far enough in advance.

I actually arrived on the Thursday night, so Friday was free for exploring Berlin. That should really be another whole story. What I will say is that I did an Insider walking tour for ten euros that was in English,  completely brilliant and a good 5 hours duration.  Berlin is an amazing and fascinating city, albeit it obviously has a bleak and disturbing history.  Made me wish I’d allowed more time, and that I knew my history a bit better.  The underground was really easy to negotiate, but it was bitterly cold.  I can’t resist including a few pics, but I will resist the temptation to tell you all about it in detail.  I know, you can barely contain your disappointment, but you are doing a grand job of disguising it all the same…  I will get to the parkrun stuff eventually.  Think of this delayed gratification as just part of building up the suspense.  It’s going to be so worth it when you get to the climax I promise!*

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There’s just so much I don’t know about Berlin.  Not least why the armadillo has made the little boy cry or why balloons are kept in captivity there.  Still, plenty to discover for another time.  The double cobblestones mark the line of the Berlin wall by the way, that photo wasn’t an accident.  It was a sensory, emotional, cultural, historical and cognitive overload.  My head was spinning by the end, but well worth it, given limited time I’d 100% recommend it to anyone as a first stop to get your bearings and a sense of the city.

Then, finally it was parkrun eve, and in the morning it would be Berlin parkrun day.  Oh.  My.  Gawd!  So exciting.

I woke early.  The view outside my bedroom window was not promising, and it did look even colder than the day before, it being still dark and with an ‘end of the world’ type fog enclosing our glass towered sanctuary.


Breakfast was from 6.30 and I went and had coffee – an absolute revelation, proper coffee here, not the undrinkable offerings you get at most UK hotels – and a small bowl of porridge.  So hard to resist the temptation to face-plant into the smorgasbord of delights on offer, but I consoled myself with the knowledge I’d have tomorrow too.

We weren’t far from the park, but I had no idea where we were going so made my way down to reception to go with the mass exodus around 8.15.  Oh my, it was so exciting, emerging from the lifts into the foyer of the hotel and to see sights like this:

You just know you are about to embark on a fun morning when you are greeted with the view of a mystery figure in a shamrock morph suit first thing, surrounded by a sea of apricot parkrun shirts.  I was a little shy, because what with the Irish flags and mutual greetings all around it was indeed Tralee parkfunners on tour, this dear reader was quite literally an entire parkrun, decamped to a new destination.  Everyone knew everyone.., apart from me.  I shouldn’t have worried however, not only was everyone intrinsically friendly and open, I had forgotten I was of course a celebrity by association.  My  new best friends introduced me to their fellow parkrunners, explaining ‘you know Elisabeth at Bushy parkrun?  This is her daughter’.  Smiles widened, arms opened to embrace me, faces lit up.  It was amazing.  Is it bad that I’m ever so slightly regretting not having done the whole grumpy cat thing with my  mum and sorting out some souvenir merchandise in advance to have brought with me.  I mean, not to sell, after all, if Mr S-H himself has held back from exploiting parkrun for personal financial gain I’m not about to sell my own mother on the back of it, but I mean to give as gifts in order to ingratiate myself to others, a fine key ring perhaps, or a signed photo would have gone a long way to thank all these lovely people for their warm welcome and including me in this amazing adventure.  It was extraordinary.  How famous is she?  #loveparkrun #loveElisabethscorner

Once we’d formed a loose assembly, on some invisible signal, the migration began and the exodus commenced as we were disgorged through the revolving doors onto the streets of Berlin:

I don’t know if spiderman was particularly attracted by a fellow donner of a morph suit of if he was also just out for parkrun too.  Takes some balls to wear a morph suit I think, but that was OK, our shamrock man had an accompanying juggler to carry some, as you do, so that was all right then.

Hilariously, although it was but a short walk to the park, within seconds half the group was heading off the wrong way up the street and had to be called back into the herd. Actually, after I got to know the area a bit better I think you probably could have done either route, but it was still laugh out loud funny at the time.  The phrase herding cats springs to mind.  Alternatively, think ball bearings scattering across an ice rink and you’ll get the idea.  Still, ball bearings with cohesive instincts, as we did somehow regather, maybe mercury would be a better analogy, breaking apart and them coming together as one mass again once in touching distance from one another.

Anyhows, eventually regathered, we soon came to the park entrance and its associated photo opportunities.  Have you any idea how exciting this moment was?  It was!  Look, that’s me, by a sign in German in the actual park where the Hasenheide parkrun takes place!

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We wended our way into the park to the assembly point.  What was really extra exciting (and it’s hard to imagine that excitement could continue to build I was on such a high) was as we approached the start we could see what were clearly parkrun signs, but IN GERMAN!

And another thing. These TpOT troupers, Tralee parkrunners On Tour, is that they are absolute pros at this kind of thing.  Not only have they cracked the logistics, they’ve cracked the photo op, coming prepared with a fine flag as well as broad smiles and parkrun tops.  I was permitted the very great honour of posing behind one of the flags, as part of my transition into potentially becoming an honorary TpOT perhaps…  Something in my other eye now, it’s just wonderful to feel part of a gang now and again, a benign one like this anyway, I’m not aspiring to join the masons or anything like that.

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That’s some turn out!  Be impressed, be very impressed.

The park itself was surprisingly large and lots of trees and a welcome green space.  My regular reader will know that usually I put high value on there being somewhere around for a pre parkrun precautionary pee.  On this occasion there was nowhere obvious (though I suppose al fresco options are always a possibility).  Astonishingly I was OK, this could be in part that it was so very cold there was a major incentive to keep everything covered up as much as possible. Nobody would want to brave baring their buttocks in sub arctic conditions.  So I was fine, thank you for asking.

There was milling and chilling – literally and metaphorically, also flag draping and spontaneous juggling.  Remember the parkrun rules everyone, respect each person’s right to participate in their own way.

We found the Run Director and his entourage of volunteers.

The gathering point is an under cover sheltered area with a large mural and some benches which provided a useful dumping ground for bags and even some seating as well as protection in the event of rain.  On a serious note, the park appears nice, but is also something of a gathering spot for drug users and others on the fringes of society, so we were advised that you really mustn’t leave any valuables lying around as there are sadly ‘undesirables’ who might opportunistically take things.  On a cheerier note, there was a photo frame Hasenheide parkrun sign so plenty of opportunities for posing for pictures in all possible combinations of characters.  Excellent.  Some were more experienced at this than others, you could tell the old hands by their more creative displays and configurations with the frame.  I was slightly disappointed that someone corrected another tourist who was holding the sign upside down at one point.  Oh well.

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After much milling and chilling, and mutual photographing…

new friends.jpg

eventually the RD called us together for the run welcome. This was excellent, and in both German and English. There were some nice touches, the tourist crowd being so huge, he actually asked if there were any locals running, rather than tourists, and when it came to the briefing it was offered in two groups, one in English and one in German. The German group was but a scattering which was a shame in a way as it needs a local population to be sustainable, but remarkable too.

With their folded arms it makes it look like the parkrunners were a hard to please crowd, but in fact they were just cold. There was a lot of laughing, clapping of volunteers and acknowledgement of running milestones with certificates brought in from Ireland in honour of the occasion.

We were warned about bikes, or more specifically bike riders, who I gather can be well, erm let’s say ‘very focused’ on staying on their paths.  I heard this on my guided walk too, bikes here have super powers and no brakes.  We have been warned.  We were also told to beware of innocent looking lines of leaves, which might be gathered in storm drains, essentially turning them in to tiger traps, or at the very least parkrunner ankle turning traps, which is basically the same thing.  I didn’t notice these anywhere on the course, and then it dawned on me that of course I wouldn’t that’s because the leaves disguise the hazard doh!  It’s amazing I survived the run at all!

For those of you who like the course blah de blah the Hasenheide parkrun website describes the route as follows:

route description

Start and finish are at Café Hasenschänke, near the fairytale playground and the natural theater. The route consists of 2 laps. First, it is 250 m in a westerly direction. At the fork, turn left towards the path that leads around the park.Here, turn right onto the main path, which once passes through the park. After about 1 km you pass a mini-zoo (where, according to Andy, camels can be seen in the summer). In the 2nd round, at kilometer 3, it goes to the right and 200 m up the hill before it goes back to the circular route. At km 4.7, turn right onto the home stretch.

And it looks like this:

hasenheide parkrun

Honestly, I tend to rely on just following other people at parkrun, and hope there will be enough other runners that there will always be at least a couple still in view ahead of me.  This course has marshals too. Even so, I can report dear reader that it’s two laps, but they are non-identical, there’s a loop up a steep hill that you only do the once, unless you weren’t concentrating during the brief, in which case you end up doing it twice.  Oh dear.   Or maybe it was just that route wise, there some runners who were having such a good time, they wanted to put in an extra loop, it’s happened before I gather – Hallam parkrunner you know who you are.  This is by way of contrast to the Shenzhen Half Marathon in China where runners weren’t enjoying it quite so much  it seems and so 250 of them took a short cut.  Wouldn’t happen at parkrun.  Well, maybe the once, with the ill-judged Runners World report, but that’s history now.

For your edification and/or merriment, here is the critical junction which seemed to catch some runners out.

Run briefing over, it was just a matter of migrating the short distance to the start:

and then we were awf!

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I was a bit giddy with it all.  Torn between my desire to get moving pdq in order to warm up, and wanting to consciously store every moment.  I did inevitably have to pause to take pictures along the way, but you know what I’m glad I did, it anchors the memories in your mind.   There was lots to see, we went past an animal farm at one point with spotted guinea fowl just like we have in the enclosure by the lake at Graves Park in Sheffield!  Home from home.  The paths were wide, so it was good for accommodating different speeds of runners without congestion.  There were the usual characters, canicross runners, two guys attending Lee’s stag weekend who jogged along chatting throughout.  I know they were there for Lee, because their T-shirts said so, not because I have psychic powers.  I was a little more mystified by the person running with a bicycle tyre, though another runner seemed to be able to identify the brand and said it was a particularly high-end one.  Can’t say I’m able to verify this one way or another, but I suppose if it was that precious you wouldn’t want to let it out of your sight would you?  There was a juggler, because what is a parkrun without one person doing that and/or a morris dancer or three-legged challenge, and a fancy dress runner and a couple of flags and lots of cow cowls.  Hurrah!  All the fun of the parkrun fair!

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I found the route easy to follow, but can see why people ran the cobbled, comedy mound hill twice, just for the fun of it.  I found a post from someone else who’d run this route earlier in the year and they describe the route thus:

What a fabulous course, with a sort of comedy short hill in the middle which must be in highest point in about a 400 mile radius: you really have to go out of your way to find so much as an incline in Berlin.

A pleasing description I think we can agree.  And much more concise than I am capable of.  Oh well.  You’re still here aren’t you?  Guilty of collusion then, not my fault at all, I told you at the outset what would happen, so you have only yourself to blame for wasting these hours of your life you will never get back.

Of course, the run wouldn’t happen without the volunteers, who were all claps and smiles and words of encouragement.  Also, excellent directional pointing skills, which was important, what with the difference between the two laps.

It all seemed to go a bit more quickly than my usual parkrun, I don’t know why.   Soon, the finish funnel came into view, and flanked by parkrunners already home you could run in to the warm embrace of a parkrun welcome.  There was much cheering, and mutual delight at job done!  There were some fun across the finish line photos too

And then just like at ‘normal’ parkrun, there was the cheering in of the tail walker, and the migration of marshals back to the start/finish as they stood down from their posts.

tpot all done and dusted

All done and dusted.  Waiting for the final finishers, I got chatting to some other tourists who’d rocked up.  One was from Barnsley, which was somewhat surreal, especially as we’d been at the same Barnsley parkrun a few weeks ago when they were celebrating their 400th run.  Small world indeed.  I completely forgot to ask him if he bought anything from the carboot sale.  Oh well.

It was a mass move to the parkrun cafe.  The potential for this cafe was undoubtedly amazing, but they couldn’t really cope with the sudden and unexpected influx of numbers, and truth to tell one of the serving staff looked positively annoyed we’d all turned up.  Despite this, pretty fine cafe options were available, and there was a jovial and companionable mood as we all squashed in together, sharing parkrun stories whilst waiting for our coffees to arrive.

Coffees drunk, conscious the cafe had reserved our tables for others from 11.00 a.m. we departed in groups.  Returning to the hotel was another micro adventure altogether as we all mistakenly assumed someone else in our group knew the way back.  Honestly, I don’t know how it is I manage to survive living independently given my lack of initiative on occasions.  It was entertaining rather that scary, and we did make it back safely in the end you’ll be hugely relieved to hear!

All’s well that ends well eh?  Plus, got to see a fabulous giraffe mural en route, what’s not to like.

So in conclusion, yes Hasenheide parkrun was great.  I didn’t fall into a trap of leaves, I didn’t get run over by a bike or run the cobbled hill twice by mistake. I did have a lovely time, get clapped by marshals and cheered by a departing cani-cross runner and make some new friends on the way round. Hurrah.  It was all a fine parkrun should be.

It seems to be largely an expat affair at the moment, but I think it’s relatively new.  The team were great ambassadors for both parkrun in general and Berlin in particular, coping brilliantly with the large tourist influx – albeit TpOT had pre-warned them they were on their way!  Very welcoming, lovely route, though possibly a park I wouldn’t want to run in on my own.  Obviously, going with Tralee parkrunners added a whole new dimension to the occasion.  I really enjoyed myself – can you tell?  How very empathetic.  Though I  suppose it must be acknowledged that when I said delightedly to one of the other parkrunners ‘it’s just like ‘normal’ parkrun, but in Germany!  How amazing is that!’ he remarked, ‘for me it is just like my usual parkrun, because all the same people are here!’  Which is both pleasing and bizarre I suppose, if you think about it.  Either way, blooming brilliant. Thank you kind parkrunners of Hasenheide, you were awesome!

Thank you mein hosts all!  Of one thing we can be sure, that was awesome running!

tpot awesome indeed

You may be a tad less confident in identifying this picture as a portrait of the runner wearing it, but trust your instincts, you were right all along!  I know, the likeness is uncanny!

tpot uncanny likeness

If you’d like to read the official run report from Hasenheide parkrun you can do so here: Ein großes Dankeschön und toll gemacht an unser Team. Es kommen nicht jede Woche über 100 Iren zu Besuch.  Unser Laufbericht für den 24.11. A thank you to our local runners and volunteers“ ist nun online.

But frankly there is an abundance of reportage about the event, very appropriate and proportionate given the importance of the occasion.  You can read about the Tralee parkrunners left behind in their local run report here  with rhyme and reason too.  Then, because Tralee parkrunners know how to do their mass tourism with considerable aplomb and style, there is the official TpOT (Tralee parkrunners On Tour) Berlin parkrun report as well.  Another fantastic memento of a truly amazing weekend.  Plus, I get a mention in my own right, and can exclusively declare here and now I am officially recognised as eh hem an ‘HTpoTs” – honorary Tralee parkrunner on Tour.  Possibly Undoubtedly the greatest running honour of my entire life!  Tralee parkrunners, I salute you and I thank you.  You are individually and collectively epic, I just hope I get to see you on your home ground some time – assuming I can catch you on a weekend when you aren’t gallivanting off trying to nab another parkrun venue newly discovered to be on the flight path from Kerry Airport!

team photo

Oh, and you get your results email in German, which is very cool, and then if you check out the rest of your profile from that link, that’s all in German too.  Oh my gawd.  May the novelty of this revelation never end!

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And don’t get me started on the wow factor of the running challenges chrome extension – it’s like entering a whole new parkrun wonderland, and perhaps for fuller exploration another time.  Loving the Christmas tree and all-seasons additions that have only just appeared.  Simple pleasures eh?  Be like the clangers people, take time out to smell the roses – appreciate the little things – along the way!

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So, I’m sold on international parkrun tourism.  My ambition for 2020 is the New Year’s Day Double encompassing Denmark and Sweden.  What could possibly go wrong trying to cross a Nordic bridge?  To be fair, if anyone does die en route, as long as you retrieve their barcode and get it scanned I think that would be fine.


So International parkrun tourism for 2019 then, – who’s in?

#DFYP (Don’t Forget Your Passport) as well as #DYFB (Don’t Forget Your Barcode)

tpot no idea

Get me, now Honorary member of the TpOT.  I’m quite surprised there isn’t a special badge for that on the parkrun chrome extension.  One day maybe.

‘Til next time

Happy parkrunning y’all and auf Wiedersehen

For all my parkrun related posts click here.  Or don’t.  It’s up to you.  You’ll need to scroll down for older entrie

*or possibly not.  But tell you what, if you aren’t impressed, you can do your next parkrun for free, any Saturday of your choosing and anywhere in the world.  Can’t say fairer than that now can I?

**I don’t mind if I am a doughnut, as long as it’s a jam-filled one, not a circular one with a hole in it, which everyone knows is an abomination.  For the record though, Wikipedia says that the story is an urban myth. Shame really…  ‘There is a widespread misconception (outside German-speaking countries) that the phrase is incorrect German and in fact means “I’m a doughnut”. It has even been embellished into an urban legend


Categories: 5km, parkrun, running | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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