Jelenia Gora parkrun : The day we popped into Poland

There are things that seem like a good idea at the time. You know the sort, those genius ideas that suddenly don’t seem quite so smart..

Well maybe booking flights to Prague so we could do the Pardubice Wine Half Marathon admittedly wasn’t THAT bad an idea. It was the extra stroke of genius that tipped it over the edge. Which, coincidentally, is what the oncoming lorry almost did to us on the switchback roads that snake through the mountains between Czechia (as almost no one calls it) and Poland.

Hang on, I hear you say, Mountains… Poland… We thought you said Pardubice and something about wine ??

Well, yep. The problem is that some sort of mental hysteria has taken over the GinRunners of late. The unique and incurable mental condition that makes you ask “Where’s the nearest parkrun?” everywhere you go.

That’s why we found ourselves in a hired VW Polo (which we named Marco, no claims on originality here) heading gingerly down the long and winding road while the Polish HGV racing club thundered up it. I think it was what was called “an experience”, the sort usually prefixed with “near death”.

Our destination on this trip was the Polish town of Jelenia Gora which a) had a parkrun and b), erm, had a parkrun. Some complicated, and optimistic, arithmetic showed that we had time to run the parkrun there and get back to Pardubice in time for the Half.. if everything went to plan.

We’d booked into a hotel right next to the parkrun park and the best thing you could say about it was, well, it’s right next to the parkrun park. We’re big fans of sampling the local cuisine, although the chicken livers in a delicate raspberry sauce was every bit as nice as it sounds. Not very. Especially as the delicate sauce turned out to be a jar of raspberry jam.

Nope, not making that up.

Thought it was going to put in a reappearance later in the evening too.

The next morning dawned bright and cold as we jumped into Marco and drove the 500m to the start. When we arrived there was not a soul about, just a lot of red squirrels who looked happy to see visitors. As the 9am start time approached a few running types appeared. Always nice to see a parkrun milestone t-shirt so you know you’re in the right place.

The event team seemed to consist of 2 people, and there were about 18 runners including us. Everyone was very friendly with handshakes all round. They told us there were no Marshall’s but the whole route was marked with permanent signs so getting lost was difficult.

Even for us.

The route consists of three laps of the very scenic park. Coming from a land where red squirrels are scarce it was definitely odd to have to watch you didn’t trip over any of the wee critters. The place is pancake flat and just made for a PB attempt. We did consider it but there was the small matter of the Half Marathon so we decided to engage plod mode instead.

So we were just over half way round our second lap when the leaders went zooming past.

Nothing new there then.

After the third lap we crossed the line and had our barcodes scanned. We’re not used to low token numbers, but we’ll take the top-20 finish. Just as long as no one looks at how many were actually running.

The RD had even brought tea and coffee for everyone, and we grabbed a quick cuppa before jumping back into Marco to brave the mountain roads. We’d be fine as long as there were no delays on the way to Pardubice.

Fine, yeah, we’d have almost 20 minutes to park, return the car and get to the start of the Half.

We’d loved our first trip to Poland (liver in Jam notwithstanding). Although Jelenia Gora doesn’t quite have the alphabet attraction of its Z near namesake it certainly ticks all the parkrun tourism boxes. It’s well worth the 5 hour round trip should you ever find yourself in Pardubice..

Ok, that’s not likely but still.