A Run in Every Country

One of my goals for this adventure has been to run in each country we visited, and I have managed this to date, recording each of them on Strava, a phone app which tracks your progress by GPS. Since we have been stuck in France, this challenge has changed somewhat, but that’s the nature of most things today.

The Strava app encourages you to sign up for challenges, such as “Run a 5k this month” and being a shallow sort of fellow who doesn’t like to back down (see the horrid cricket jigsaw) I have found these quite a useful way of forcing myself to run. For instance, I signed up for the March 10k badge which meant that I had a fabulous morning running along the Danube in Budapest.

The runs started with a dark evening getting lost in the wetlands north of Amsterdam. Slow, wet, meandering, getting darker with each minute, but a start which gave me hope and a small kernel of inspiration that this might just grow into something that I might enjoy.

Brussels was another exercise in getting lost, this time finding myself in the tabloid-favourite “terrorist hotbed” of Molenbeek, before heading back to Grande Place and tourist loveliness.

No picturesque windmills or guildhalls in Rommerskirchen, outside Cologne. But a couple of very impressive power stations. I did this one in my Where’s Wally carnival top too.

An early morning in Berlin gave me a beautiful view of the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, before the tourist hordes (remember them?) arrived. I even remember feeling a bit like a runner on that one.

No tourists at all in the Oder Delta, but I saw my first ever wild boars in the wild – I don’t know which of us was more startled – and ran to the accompaniment of woodpecker rattles.

My run in Kraków would have been better had the bridge I wanted to cross not been completely shut due to tram works. Quite a lot of central Kraków was blocked of because of this, and it was raining. Bleurgh.

Budapest was my favourite, and longest, run. The early morning Danube, Imperial Palace, and Parliament were magnificent, and I was pleased to have completed my 10k challenge.

From one Austro-Hungarian capital to the other, and though we were much less central here, I thought I would try to spot the wild hamsters we didn’t see the day before, in the great Viennese Central Cemetery (Schubert, Beethoven, Boltzmann, Schönberg, allegedly Mozart, and countless others). I’m not sure running in a cemetery is appropriate, but it was early, so there were not many people around to be offended, and the dead did not seem to mind.

Since then, we have been locked down in the Chartreuse in France. I managed my “usual” 5km once, before the restrictions came into force, but since then the regulations are such that there is a limit of a 1km radius around the house, and a maximum of an hour.

In the spirit of challenging myself, I signed up for the April 10k badge at the end of March, so I have been plotting how to do this 10km within the time limit. This should be achievable (I can normally do a 5km within a not very impressive 28 minutes) but it means working out where to go, and how to be back in time, given that there is hardly anywhere flat here, and there are not many circular routes within the permitted radius.

The other thing is that we generally use our permitted up-to-60-minutes-outside time for a family walk, and I also signed up for an April walk challenge, so my days for running are very limited. I can generally count on the Mondays that I go to a supermarket in a neighbouring town, but not much else.

I am enjoying this though, and I’m enjoying being fitter and stronger. It’s also a chance for some headspace alone, which is always welcome.

Tomorrow is a Monday. This post is another way of making me do this. Wish me luck.

Ben