(#ThrowbackThursday to my Milano Nord parkrun – I wrote this almost a month ago but may have forgotten to press “publish”…)
I like to think myself jet-setting, well-dressed and sophisticated kind of guy, cleverly concealed under an unshaven, underdressed and usually grumpy façade.
Which is why my list of 31 parkrun’s to date read like the Harper’s Bazaar list of 2016’s most glamorous destinations: Mile End, Southampton, Jersey and Eastleigh.
This weekend I’m continuing the theme by running the Frankfurt Marathon. I’ve never been but I’m fairly sure it’s Germany’s most enchanting and spectacular city.
And as befits my usual training inadequacies, I chose to spend the previous weekend with 7000 Southampton fans watching football, drinking beer and eating pizza in Milan.
So 4am on Saturday morning, I was sat in our hostel reception chatting about whatever it is you chat about at that time in morning and sipping another refreshing carbohydrate drink made from hops and barley.
I was woken up four hours later by my bunk buddy who reminded me I had decided to go to parkrun. Pulling on my running gear in semi-dark and cursing my decision-making, I left the other five to sleep and wandered out to the local metro station.
It is pretty much a tradition that I turn up late to most things, but especially parkrun. The frenzied run/bike/drive to the startline, often as the runners disappear into the distance is a common sight among the parks I frequent.
The clock ticked down to nine, I broke into a jog, entered Milano Nord park and spotted a group of sporty looking girls and guys limbering up.
As I’ve said before, I like parkrun but I had added incentive for attending this one: I might actually win (I am also aware that parkrun is non-competitive).
Having looked at the previous week’s results, the winner came in a minute under my 5K PB which meant that even with my night of drinking and pizza eating, I might still get on the virtual podium.
But obviously some other Southampton fans had the same idea (or they were just legitimate tourists and not as competitive as me). There were a couple of Eastleigh Striders vests on show, in fact, too many vests for me to have any viable chance of getting top ten. Anyone in a vest is faster than me, FACT.
Anyway, the attitude to the start time was…continental at best. Sometime around 9.20 we set off on a lovely, flat two loops around the park. Unfortunately, my legs didn’t get the memo. It was almost as if they were weighed down by copious amounts of amazing food and drink (thinking face emoji)
It was crisp, quiet and the course weaved through light green trees with none of the usual autumnal colours of. It actually felt more like spring. We weaved past a concrete oval where cyclists were whizzing through in perfect formation. Somewhere on the 2nd lap, my legs remembered what they were supposed to be doing and I overtook a couple of people to finish 13th – my joint highest finish ever.
I also remembered the true spirit of parkrun and cheered in the other runners as someone handed out treats. I was hungry at that point but it turns out that biscotti is drier than a stack of Jacob’s Crackers and I almost choked on their Italian kindness.
In total, 47 people finished the 5th ever Milano Nord parkrun. It was amazing to see the beginnings of something that will hopefully grow and spread the parkrun message further in Italy. I’d love to go back in a few years, maybe without indulging in Milan’s entertainment the night before though.