My first parkrun since my bottom injection, and can you guess what happens? Two days before parkrunday, I go out to see The Cure in Italy like the sad old goth I am, get absolutely trolleyed on cocktails with names like Paris Hilton and Julia’s Strap On, and fall flat on my face, too drunk to know what I’d fallen over but not too drunk to realise it hurt. So instead of turning up at Farfalle parkrun (“Butterfly parkrun”) in Padua with a hurty left leg, I turned up with a hurty right leg instead. Marvellous.
Here are some gems from the Google translation of the Farfalle parkrun website, with my own comments:
- Farfalle parkrun is run entirely on paths. Maybe “paths” has a different meaning in Italian. There were some (gravel) paths
- on the course, granted, but most of it was through a muddy, leafy wood with an assortment of trip hazards such as roots, concrete humps and random plastic bumps to test your ability to stay upright. To add an extra sense of jeopardy and excitement, one such section was alongside a large ditch, meaning that if you tripped you would not merely fall flat on your face as I am accustomed to, but plunge into muddy depths requiring rescue from the tailwalker (who, I noticed, had turned up in wellies). The forest was occasionally punctuated by a stretch of grass round a sports court, which reminded Rob and Jenny of everyone’s favourite course, Walthamstow.
- It consists of four laps per hour. Is this an aspersion on my running pace? Okay, it took me well over 40 minutes, but not a whole hour to do the four laps. (Rob spoiled the humour by pointing “per hour” was probably a mistranslation of “clockwise”.
- Each lap is 1235km long. Or just felt it. No wonder it takes an hour. ultraparkrun.
- There is a dog area where you can be free minded with your four legged friends. No comment.
After the first hundred metres I’d pretty much decided that self-preservation (and of course getting my first Italian parkrun) was my priority for this enterprise and thus I took it very easy, walking or jogging at snail’s pace for most of it and running the path sections. Despite finishing in 42:47 I still got my best ever finish place, 23rd (out of 28) and first (and only) in age group. I was mostly proud of the fact that I’d finished without falling over once!
The highlight of this parkrun for me wasn’t the course, though, but the feeling of being in a proper local community parkrun abroad. All the other parkruns I’ve done outside the UK have still been pretty dominated by British expats and tourists and while it is nice to meet other people like myself it’s never felt that different from popping down the road to my local. What I particularly liked was that the post parkrun routine of going to a cafe was just the same for the Italians, but with an Italian twist: instead of ordering a cooked breakfast, a latte and a pint, the Italians ordered foccacia sandwiches with mozzarella and parma ham (and rustled up a very nice ratatouille-like thing for the vegans), a “picollo prosecco” and red wine and espresso in tiny cups. Unfortunately I don’t speak any Italian so most of the conversation was a mystery to me but I’m sure I could make out the usual topics of conversation (milestones, tourings, PBs, marathons…) Everyone was lovely and welcoming which more than made up for the peril of the ditch. I’m hoping there will be more Italian parkruns in my future, most importantly Jenny’s home parkrun Roma Pineto which I am assured contains more hills but fewer opportunities to break your ankle.