Ah, this has been such a long time in the making!
Fast forward over 2 years and I finally got to run there!
The Queen’s Jubilee meant that we had an extra day off work on the Friday before half term, and the day before was a training day, meaning we could book a Thursday night Eurostar and then have all day Friday to be in The Hague, minimising the chance of me getting lost. (And of course also sightsee).
The journey was good although there were very long queues at the Eurostar check in- at least unlike flying you know they are not going to let you get stuck in security. The train went to Amsterdam but we had booked to Rotterdam, and then it was around a 20 min train journey to The Hague, all very easy (apart from the ticket machines being outside of the barriers of the station in Rotterdam). Our hotel was right by the station which helped.
I will do a separate post on the trip, but I absolutely loved The Hague and am so glad that I went. Without the pull of the parkrun alphabet, I would probably have never been there, but I am so glad I did because it was a wonderful city- so pretty with canals and parks, but also by the sea with a huge sandy beach. Honestly, even if you don’t care about parkruns or alphabets, have a look at it.
The huge copper building in the centre of the park is amazing! Plus makes it easy to find the start. I loved the Dutch signs.
Zuiderpark parkrun is a few km from the station, and there was a tram (9) that went straight there. After my disaster in Dublin it was just sensible to get the tram there. I couldn’t quite work out the times, but they were pretty regular (every 10/15 mins), with pay stations on board to get your ticket. I had only packed a t-shirt, no long sleeved tops, but it was pretty fresh at 8am and so I took my rain jacket with me for an extra layer, and standing by the station in the wind I was pretty glad of it.
I got on the tram and tried to buy a ticket, but it said “no tickets available, no card purchase available, no cash accepted”- a woman approached me and asked if I was going to parkrun- she was too. I showed her my tram ticket from the previous day (bought on board) but neither of us could get the machine to work. We had to hope that if a ticket inspector got on the tram we could explain why we didn’t have tickets for that day. We had a lovely chat on the way- she was based in Brussels and had been doing lots of European parkrun tourism (that morning she’d got a bus at something like 4am to get over here)- it turned out we had been to lots of similar parkruns in the UK too.
The trams were easy to navigate as they all had electronic screens announcing the next station, so it wasn’t long before we arrived in the park and started looking for the start. I’d seen the big copper building on their course page, so knew to head to that. Of course we met more tourists walking through the park, and it didn’t take long to see the sign directing people to the start (if you walk the circumference of the building you will find it).
Photo op by the big sunglasses!
The run briefing was completed in English first, and then in Dutch, and of course there were plenty of tourists. We were warned to watch out for bikes and with perfect timing a bike sped past. Some people had emailed in about them completing the alphabet, other people were doing their 100th- it felt as if everyone was celebrating something. I took a few photo by the huge sunglasses, and some of the signs in Dutch (making the most of a new parkrun country too), and decided to tie my rain coat around my waist as I knew I would get warm running. I particularly liked the “Let op:renners” sign which means “watch out riders”- I think warning cyclist of runners?
Then we walked to the start and we were off! It is a fast course- two flat laps around the park. Lots to see on the way around, and a few marshals at key points who were all very enthusiastic. I had a total mental blank over what thank -you was in Dutch, but they all seemed to be speaking in a combination of English and Dutch anyway.
My pace was fairly quick (and a lovely royal flush negative split too)- 8:55, 8:46, 8:44 and 8:30 for the finish. But it was pancake flat with nice wide paths and not many runners so no congestion at all. I didn’t want to rush through and not enjoy the experience, I was so happy to be there after the 2 year wait.
There were 85 runners and I had token 50. I took a few more photos at the finish but didn’t want to keep Andy waiting too long (and we had a train to Rotterdam later in the morning) so I jogged the 1/2 mile back to the tram stop and got one a few minutes after arriving. Perfect.
Starbucks from the station to warm up after too!
So there we have it, the parkrun alphabet has now been completed. I am so glad that I chose this one as my Z, as it was a great place to visit and I am sure we will now go back at some point.
I do love seeing the new badge appear on the chrome extension (third from the left on the top row) and of course a new country flag, although sadly since Crissy Fields stopped I’ve lost my USA flag. I shall have to remedy that soon, as more parkrun tourism calls of course …
Have you visited anywhere that surprised you? Where has parkrun taken you to?