There are 30 days in September, and we already had our favourite. There were exactly 30 parkrunners at the lovely Vääksyn kanava parkrun on this sunny morning, together with the friendly volunteer team lead by Päivi, making for a wonderful morning.
So why were we two visitors from England here at all? Well there was one last week of school holiday left, the weather in much of Europe has been too hot for us, we’ve had a lot of rain at home, and we do love to explore. Narrowing the search down to Scandinavia, wanting to head for somewhere we’d been but not for long, we settled on Finland. With a number of lovely parkruns to choose from, and wanting to spend some time away from Helsinki, Vääksyn ticked all the right boxes for a Goldilocks parkrun, not too far and not too near, not too city, not too rural.
The Vääksy canal connects lakes Vesijärvi and Päijänne, and is Finland’s busiest boating canal. You can get here by boat from Lahti, we chose the easier to organise train from Helsinki to Lahti and bus connection.
We arrived on Friday afternoon, in time to visit the city museum with a fascinating display on fishing lures as well as an exhibit showing the rock tunnel which transports clean water all the way to provide for the city of Helsinki. We had a lovely dinner in the restaurant by the lake, and loved to see the houseboats moored on the water’s edge, with barbecues cooking dinner, and we already wanted to live here.
But this is a parkrun report, so onto Saturday morning. We gathered by the canal, just down from the clever boat lock / lifting road bridge, meeting Lorna and Nina, who we recognised as the lead cheerleaders for parkrun (and everything) Finland from the world tourists group. The route itself is a double out and back along the length of the canal, lots of chances to encourage and be encouraged by other parkrunners as we ran. The canal also has a lovely stone war memorial with the names of the fallen marked on individual pillars, as well as a clever eel catching box by the adjacent river, so when you visit do make time to look around more slowly. Readers will also be very happy to know that there is a nice little cafe right by the canal, where you can get coffees, pastries and ice cream, seating shared with some giant teddy bears and a unicorn.
The first finisher this week was young Oliver with a ‘Oma ennätys’ of 22:20 - or personal best as we’d call it, followed by Juho with the second of 3 best times achieved today. Kati was the first female finisher, not far off her best time too. We were the only 2 first timers today, it’s great to visit a parkrun which is very much for the local community, and loved to see the wide range of participants.
Thank you to the lovely team of volunteers and all participants. You have a lovely town and parkrun, and we hope to be lucky enough to come back again.
Best wishes, Justin and Lawrence