Dietenbach parkrun, finally a German flag!

Back in 2018 we had a December trip to Berlin, and as we were flying there on a Friday night, I’d planned to go to a parkrun on the Saturday morning. However, once we had checked in and dropped off our bag, our flight was cancelled (and you would not believe how many hours it takes to get back a bag that only 5 minutes ago was in your hand…)- anyway, the next flight was not until the Sunday, so although this meant I got to go to Ellenbrook Fields parkrun on the Saturday, it meant I had not managed a new parkrun country.

Fast forward to 2024 and the German flag was going to be mine! We were heading to Europa-Park, a theme park in Germany, and happily there was a parkrun about a 25 minute drive away.

A few pictures from Europa-Park

We had a good few days in the park, plus one day where we hopped back into France to visit Colmar. We’ve been there before for the Christmas markets, so it was wonderful to visit in the summer. There are loads of good markets in that region- Strasbourg, Mulhouse as well as Colmar (and all reachable by train which is what we did each time), and then Saturday morning came around.

Beautiful Colmar and a pretzel

Andy had agreed to drive which I was very relieved about. We had driven our car and the roads were all fairly empty, but I am just so bad at interpreting the satnav if I am driving somewhere new. As we drove I kept looking at the maps thinking that if I had been driving, I would have taken that section of the exit- I would have gone wrong twice and one of those would have been driving back up the motorway in the wrong direction. He drove because we had to check out and then were driving to Disneyland Paris on the way home, so it made sense to go from parkrun rather than wait for me to get back and then leave.

The parkrun sign to direct you from the car park, the briefing and more of the signs.

The directions on the website were excellent- the car park was pretty empty as I think lots of people walk or cycle from the town centre (Freiberg), and there were instructions to leave the car park in the direction of the park (rather than walk towards the road), walk right and then next left, but as soon as I left the car park I could see the parkrun sign, and some little signs with arrows showing which way to go. As I took a photo of the purple pop up someone offered to take my photo. She commented on all the green, and I thought she meant all the greenery behind me, but she meant my top and hat!

Purple pop up photo and the foreign parkrun signs never get old! I love trying to guess which one means finish, which one means start etc.

I wasn’t there really early, probably around 8:40, but at that point there were only volunteers setting up the finish funnel. One volunteer came over to me straight away and began talking to me in English, saying he knew I was a visitor because of my 250 shirt! He talked me through the course, pointing out the part where we share a cycle lane so to watch out for bikes, and showing where the one marshal would be on the two lap course. He asked about how many people my local parkrun had, and when I said a couple of hundred he was almost apologetic that they didn’t have so many, and said that the weather would keep some of the sunny day runners away (the fair weather runners or the sugar people of Bushy Park…)- I said that some in the UK were much smaller but that I liked visiting them all. The RD then spoke to me, asking if I could give him some feedback after as they like to welcome visitors, and then checked if I was OK if they did the main briefing in German (which of course I was!). I always feel a bit sad that I can’t speak German. My paternal grandmother was Austrian (but she died before I was born) so my dad speaks pretty good German, but in school we learned French, and then we moved house mid year and the school I joined had German lessons, but as I’d missed the first half year I just never got the hang of it. I feel like I know a few nouns (Kartoffeln), but even words like ‘thanks’ I have to think consciously of because I automatically go to French when abroad.

Anyway, the run briefing was very baffling, even though I know what they will say, the only part I worked out was when they thanked the volunteers as the RD read out the names of every one. He also mentioned “UK” and pointed to me. Before the briefing a few more tourists had turned up, and another volunteer had shown them the course map and then shown everyone their visitors book. I recognised one of the people as J├╝rgen┬áKrauss from Bake Off. At the briefing once they mentioned I was from the UK, he walked over to me and asked whereabouts, so we began chatting. I asked him and he said he goes to one in Brighton, and as I’ve done all 5 there, we could chat a bit about them. I was so sure it was him, but by that point it felt too late to actually say anything, plus if you know me at all you know I feel super awkward around anyone remotely famous (and even get starstruck meeting Disney characters) so I just kept the chat to parkrun. He ran with me for a bit but thankfully soon sped off. I felt like I was struggling a bit- I’d not run all week as I’d had a cold, and although my cold had cleared up my legs felt so heavy. (Look below to see my spectacular positive split with each mile being slower than the previous one!) But this wasn’t about a time, it was about enjoying the run which I certainly did.

The route was fab- two flat laps of a really varied park. You took in some open grassland, ran around a lake and then had an out and back section under trees and amongst long grass.

The well-signed course (and Jurgen heading off in the distance), and me being very happy to be running after a week off!

The parkrun route was very well signposted, with lots of arrows and cones marking off corners. They seem to have a spread of participants, not just loads of speedy runners, with a few people walking as well. It wasn’t busy, with 48 finishers on that day (and around double that the week later when I checked), but I could always see people up ahead, and on the out and back part I could see people behind me too.

After I finished a few of the volunteers asked me how I had enjoyed it, and then I ended up chatting to another tourist from the UK who had been in France but had persuaded her husband to detour over the border to take in a parkrun- sounds familiar! I made sure I signed the visitors book and then briefly spoke to the RD before heading back to the car because we had to hit the road! I’d packed a jumper to wear straight away, and made a tea to have in the car, and then later on we stopped at services and I changed properly. We didn’t get to our hotel at Disney until the afternoon so I didn’t have a shower until then- that’s the longest I’ve been parkrun fresh for!

Tea for the journey, finish area, finish token and change of clothes.

You don’t get a text result with an overseas parkrun, and the email didn’t come through until around 7:30pm, so I was a little relieved when it came through and I could finally claim my German flag! But of course it isn’t just about ticking off a country, it was a really enjoyable place to visit and the team were so friendly, I’m so glad I got to go there.

The gorgeous drawing on the cover of their guest book, my new flag and my message- It was raining so I was trying to write quickly so I could put the book back in the box!

And the updated Vonoroi map! I love looking at this so much.

So, that was parkrun country number 8 for me. I’ve sort of got them in pairs- UK and Ireland, USA and Canada, Denmark and Norway, and now Netherlands and Germany. My next parkrun country is going to be even more challenging with the language barrier than Germany was, so we shall wait and see if I end up getting there.

Do you like visiting different countries for parkrun?

PS a few Disney pics! One by the castle, the castle rainbow coloured at night, the main mice and then the vegan burrito which was the best dinner after no lunch as we were travelling all day.

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