Caffarella parkrun, 9th April 2022

In numerous visits to see our son in Florence, we had never yet made it to the local parkrun. On this trip we were having a week in Florence, then a weekend in Rome. Post-pandemic, the Florence run has moved to a park on the outskirts of the city that we didn’t know. We had arrived on the Friday evening, but we were tired, the weather wasn’t great and we weren’t sure how to get there. So we (or I should say “I”) decided that we would definitely do a parkrun in Rome instead.

There are two parkruns in Rome, but Caffarella seemed the easiest to get to on the metro, so that was our choice. We weren’t the first Claremont Road Runners to run at Caffarella – that honour belongs to Nina Jentl who ran in the summer when the temperature was over 30 degrees! In contrast, it was a fairly cool and overcast morning for us – much more suitable for running in.

We left our son in bed (he had said the night before that he would come with us, but what seemed to him to be a good idea after a couple of glasses of wine, didn’t seem so good when I took him a cup of tea at 7:45am!), and set off to get the metro from La Spagna, the station by the Spanish Steps. We got off the metro with a lass from Hampshire who was also doing the parkrun, so we found the start line together. In fact, out of the small field of 31, there must have been about 10 British runners.

Although the park itself appeared quite large and undulating, the actual course was fairly flat and, dare I say, fairly uninteresting – though there were a lot of rabbits! The pre-race instructions were given in Italian, though a few bits were translated into English (attention to dogs!) and we were off.

The first 500m or so were along a path, going slightly downhill, until we reached a large, open field. By the time we reached the field the leader had already pulled a fair way ahead and I found myself at the head of a small group pursuing him. There were two laps of the field, on grass and trail paths, before leaving on the same path and looping around a children’s play area to the finish line. Just before the end of the first lap, I was overtaken. By now the chasing pack was down to 3 of us, and, thinking that the new pack leader might be in my age group, I tried to keep up with him. I couldn’t quite manage it and was overtaken again near the end of the 2nd lap by the 3rd of our group, a lady who it turned out was from London (and frequently runs at Harrow parkrun where we go when visiting our other son!). So I came home in 4th place in a time of 20:11 which I was very happy with. It turned out that the man who came 2nd was in the 55-59 age category, so I not only won my age group but I now hold the age category record!

Gill didn’t enjoy the final stretch as she thought she was coming into finish without realising that there was a loop around the play park! She was then disappointed to be given a time of 30:03 when she always wants to be sub-30, but I think that it was an excellent performance by her considering how little running she has been able to do in 2022 (not to mention it being the end of a week of pasta, wine and aperol spritz!).

So our first parkrun outside of England was complete and it is fair to say that the atmosphere, support and camaraderie was just the same as at home. Must do the Florence one next time!

Tom Tinsley -