Day 9

31st August – Giessen

And so, here we are, after 870km, we have arrived in Giessen just in time for Schwanenteich parkrun! We all love parkrun so there was no way we were going to miss this. Amazingly everyone was up and ready for the planned departure time of 8am, and enthusiastic for yet more running.  There were a few complaints of aches and pains, but luckily our star runner Stanley seemed to be in good form.

Once again we were overwhelmed by the welcome we received from the Giessen runners. By now there were plenty of familiar faces, but also lots of new ones, who were probably curious about what a group of Brits were doing at their parkrun.  One of the familiar faces was Giessen Oberbürgermeisterin Dietland Grabe-Bolz who had welcomed us to Giessen the previous day and who was planning to run her first parkrun.

Coincidentally it was also Schwanenteich’s 50th parkrun, so a double reason to celebrate. In fact their inaugural event was 30th September 2018, when many of the Giessen runners were in Winchester running at our parkrun.  

A special “first-timers” briefing in English ensured that we all knew the route – particularly important for Stan. This was followed by a great briefing by the Run Director -Janina.  She had been inspired by Annie’s poem on our blog had written a special poem (in English) for the occasion.

When I was in bed last night,

I thought writing a little poem should be right

because today is a very special day,

it’s Saturday, so parkrun, okay,

but it’s Schwanenteichs number 50,

and to make it very nifty,

we have guests from Winchester here

for the friendship and twinning, not only for the German beer.

As Adrian said yesterday: They jogged all the way just to run parkrun with us

well, sometimes they used the bus,

but it’s still very impressive what they did,

and in the group was not just one kid, (but two)

so we hope you all enjoy your stay,

and that one day you will find your way, 

back again to Gießen – maybe to Schwanenteichs parkrun number … 100

and if you have ever wondered,

when this poem will end,

it’s in a few seconds, my friend.

Have a great run or walk

and during or afterwards an even better talk!

So now off to the starting line

and you all are going to do fine! 🙂

And we did “all do fine” …. Stan in particular, first finishing in a speedy time of 18:17. Obviously the multiple runs and late nights this week hadn’t affected him too much.

Stan was closely followed by dad Andy and two other Winchester runners made the top 10.  In addition six of our runners achieved age grade records for the Schwanenteich parkrun (well done Gill, Steve, Annie, Stan, Andy and Sam).  

The atmosphere at the parkrun was amazing, with everyone cheering and encouraging the runners coming in – the true spirit of parkrun. We were then treated to an amazing post-parkrun breakfast, with a huge spread of food and cakes. We were all very impressed with the facilities at the parkrun; showers were available so we showered and changed ready for our guided tour of Giessen.  

After all the activities of the last 8 days we were all feeling quite tired and maybe not particularly enthusiastic about walking further, but our guide was great, the tour was fascinating and it was interesting to discover a bit more about the history of our twin city.  The climb up the church tower, Stadtkirchenturm, was the perfect antidote to our aching quads (this statement may not be 100% accurate), and we had the added benefit of great views of the city. 

The rest of the day was free for us to explore the city further. Some chose to visit the Mathematikum, which was apparently fascinating. Others chose the less intellectually challenging option of a long lunch at a trattoria followed by ice-cream!

Overall we were impressed by our twin city, although we were rather surprised about the limited opening hours of the tourist information. Obviously tourists are supposed to adhere to particular hours.

We met up with our German friends again in the evening for more traditional German food and beer. Friendships were strengthened and plans for further running adventures with our German counterparts discussed.  We hope that we will meet up with them all again in the near future to continue this cross-European partnership regardless of what our politicians do to try to break allegiances.

870km, 5 countries, 8 days and over £3600 raised for Winchester Hospice – what an achievement! (By the way, there is still time to donate on our Just Giving page!)