Zalew Zyrardowski parkrun, 14th October 2023

A long overdue visit to Poland meant, of course, a chance to do another international parkrun. Although far from essential, a ‘Z’ was an achievable goal, so I opted for Zyrardów, a town just outside of Warsaw. I chose to stay in the town also, as the easy 20 minute train journey to Warsaw meant I could spend Friday exploring the city, but not have to fret about potential transport problems come Saturday morning.

After a mild, damp, grey day, this morning brought bright blue skies and temperatures getting on for 20 degrees, almost double that of back home!

Despite having done due diligence regarding cancellations etc, I was slightly concerned when I rocked up at the start around 8:45 with not a soul to be seen. The permanent parkrun information sign let me know I was definitely in the right place, and a couple of people duly appeared after about 5 minutes clutching the familiar signage.

The run director’s English was fair (dwarfing my three-word Polish vocabulary), but she directed me to another runner who explained the route. A short out and back up a tarmac pavement/cycle path was followed by 2 laps consisting of a longer out and back along the cycle path, with an oxbow loop along a dirt track by the riverside. The Polish briefing clearly made reference to my visiting from Newcastle in the UK, and I nodded politely at the round of applause.

I took the lead from the start, and immediately went wrong about a minute in. Although the u-turn sign was clear, there was no marshal, and as an obvious end of path turning point was about 15 metres beyond the sign, I ran past it, not wanting to inadvertently cheat! The shouts from behind let me know I’d erred. I didn’t make that mistake again!

Although fairly unremarkable, with the bulk of the run taking place up and down a perfectly straight bit of road, the sunshine made for a really pleasant run, and the diversion along the Pisia Gagolina mixed it up a little. The volunteers were also very friendly and encouraging, shouting out various things in English as I ran past, and fist-bumping me at the end.

The turnout was even lower than I’d expected, 16 runners making it the smallest parkrun I’ve experienced so far, but it’s clearly a dedicated little community who enjoy their Saturday mornings together. I was even handed a souvenir sticker afterwards by a small girl.

It’s not one I imagine many Claremonters are likely to find their way to, unless they’re in the Warsaw area and specifically after a ‘Z’ (of which there are a few dotted around the country) but I’d obviously recommend it if anyone does find themselves in that confluence of circumstances!

Laurie Johnson -