When I saw that Team COCO international runner of this season was up for grabs, I checked out accessible parkrun venues in Europe. Found a Run. Found a flight there. Found a bed and breakfast nearby. Packed my kit and dictionary and scarpered off up to Edinburgh to catch a £24 Friday flight to Treviso in Italy.
Saturday morning I turned up in my Team COCO T-shirt at Parco Storga and said some words I had learnt on the way to Julia the organizer: “Buongiorno. Il mi chiamo Terry . Sono di con Squadra COCO. Sono volato in Italia ieri sera per fare la tua parkrun.” Julia said “Wow!!” in perfect English.
Go to a parkrun anywhere in the world with your bar code and you will find familiar rituals, logos and symbols, and preliminaries. You feel like a runner of the universe, welcome everywhere in foreign lands.
And what a lovely run. Two laps around a morning misty forest over golden Autumn leaves and shiny wooden bridges and watched by Italian squirrels. A finish with applause, water and cakes. And Prosecco. At 10 o’clock in the morning.
I was first over 60 and first over 65 and first overseas runner. Glory for Team COCO! All three first time ever for me after sixty three parkruns. And 11th place means eleven is my new Golden Number, my best ever position in a parkrun.
OK. There was only one runner in the race over 60 and one runner over 65 and one runner from overseas and there were only 18 runners in the race including the lady using sticks. And the little girl in the photo hammered me out of sight.
But my numbers still feel good. There is a madness in our native blood, which explains why there are over 500 parkruns in the British Isles and none so far in Germany.
I would certainly recommend getting to Treviso parkrun. You’ll love it. Also there are some other things to do and see in Italy other than the parkrun, including eating and drinking.
There are seven parkruns in Italy at the moment.
There will soon be a new one. On Mount Etna. If the phrase “Mount Etna parkrun” doesn’t make you want to grab your trainers and jump over your back fence and head lickety split for the airport, then your soul is not living la dolce vita.