Vääksyn kanava parkrun #65 Janyary 18th 2020

65th parkrun at Vääksyn kanava Finland

This was my second visit to the wonderful Vääksyn kanava parkrun. It really is a splendid location with the course running alongside the short strip of land between two large lakes with the canal (for vessels to travel from one lake to the other by means of the lock) on one side and the river on the other.

Three of us from Tampere parkrun attended today, my friend Nina (an RD and part of the core team in Tampere) and a junior park runner. Nina had volunteered to be the tail walker so they walked together. It was the youngster’s first time here - but her 8th parkrun! She’s determined to get that junior 10parkruns T shirt!
I was last here in the summer (when I managed to run significantly faster); and I promised myself I’d come back in the winter, as this time last year I saw fantastic pictures of snow-laden trees and the frozen lakes canal and river and really wanted to experience it myself. No such luck!
The parkrun was on, which was a huge blessing. (Here in the Nordic countries there’s always a risk in the winter that it will be too icy to run with safety). Last year the temperatures were such that there were many weeks that the temperature didn’t rise above zero and everything was properly frozen - we could walk, ski, skate and yes run on the frozen lakes and the hiking trails were fantastic for trail running too, but the situation in Finland this year is very, very different. The climate is in crisis. This winter has been the warmest on record. This week it’s been above zero during the day and this weekend it didn’t even go below zero at night: nothing is frozen, there’s no snow and while the running conditions were great today, Vääksy didn’t look or feel like winter at all. Boo hoo! The silver lining was there was no need to wear lots of layers and my face didn’t freeze and I can -hopefully- come back again next winter and try again! The lack of sparkling snow today was fully compensated by the warmth of the regular participants today.
Vääksyn kanava parkrun is, i imagine, what the original parkruns felt like. A smallish group of friends who live locally and who meet for coffee on a Saturday morning, but first go for a run together to see if they are improving (or not!). What’s really, really lovely about being part of the parkrun family is that simply by showing up at a parkrun and participating anyone immediately gets an ‘in’ into the local community! I’ve been here only once before, but today I was remembered by a couple of people who welcomed me like a rarely seen ‘cousin’ and a lovely fuss was also made of the four first timers (our youngster being one of them) 35 people (plus the volunteer team) participated today, seven achieved PBs. That’s a fantastic turnout for a small community!
Vääksyn kanava parkrun is a two lap course (you start in the middle, run the length of the canal to one lake, loop round, run back along the canal to and past the start until the end of the canal, do a u turn at the other lake, run back to the start - and repeat ... I like the course a lot in part because i don't run fast and it means i see other participants much more often. The course is mostly flat (one slight bump) and the surface is mostly firm gravel though the short loop is trail-like with firm sand and a forest path.
Here’s what caught my eye today:
  • The marvellous sunrise as we drive in
  • the views - the lakes might not be frozen but they looked splendid
  • the bench overlooking the water (it looked very, very tempting!)
  • a female participant, pushing a double-decker buggy with two young children! The tot in front ‘high fived’ me every time our paths crossed and the runner was very fast!
  • a group of friends - all blokes- who walked the course together, cheering and encouraging others (including me as I huffed and puffed my way round)
  • two ladies who also walked the course and were delighted to cross the line under 50 minutes
  • a guy who ran three (or was it four?) laps just for fun
  • a elderly stooped over gentleman who walked the parkrun course steadily and without hesitation. He struggled to hold his finish token at the end and the love and care from the volunteer was lovely!
  • my friend, Nina, who tailwalked for the first time today, encouraging the youngster round the course in many different ways
  • Sari, the ED, who after finishing her parkrun ran off and completed the route with the tailwalkers!
  • the enthusiastic volunteers who cheered, encouraged and high fived me and others and who kept themselves warm with hot juice from a thermos and offered it to participants after the run
  • the unofficial tailwalker (see photo)
  • And best of all the relaxed attitude at the cafe afterwards where chatting with friends over coffee and ‘laskias pulla’(cream buns) took priority over processing the results!

I had a fantastic time at parkrun today. Vääksyn kanava parkrun really lives up to its motto ‘for everyone’ I’m really pleased that parkrun continues to motivate and excite me (even if right now my running isn’t going that well!) and I love that meeting with parkrunners after the run is very much part of the event here in Finland. Huge thanks to all the volunteers who made the parkrun at Vääksyn kanava possible today and especially to Nina for making it possible for me to get here!

Lorna from Turku, one day we will have parkrun in our wonderful city!