When I was leaving London my parkrun friends mostly said “will you start a parkrun in Geneva?” The answer was always “no”. I love my parkrun community but I could easily see that I wanted to start a parkrun, forgetting that I’d need to work my way through all the administrative and insurance issues, I would be doing it because I would be willing to do a lot race directing and volunteering. And just now I’m still in the stage where all I really want to do is run.
I was lucky, before we left London, to discover the Geneva Runners. They’re not so hard to find. They’re on Facebook and on Glocals, the social website for many things Geneva. It took me about six weeks to get around to running with Geneva Runners. But since then I’ve hardly looked back. I ran once a week with them for about 2 months, then have missed a few now and then, but Geneva Runners is very much where I’m at.
It’s very different to parkrun. It’s not a formal group. Really it’s just some friends who meet up three times a week to go running. At the core are some dedicated people who make sure that those three times a week always have familiar faces. And when I say friends, I mean a group that ostensibly has around 500 people connected to it, though the number of active participants is much smaller. They organise socials. They organise ski trips and all sorts of other things. When I say they, I really mean H, a woman who greeted me on first appearance, learned my name and has greeted me by name ever since. She does it with everyone. She remembers the details of our short conversations in a way that makes you feel connected. And it’s easy to get into the same sort of process, greeting everyone when you arrive at the start point and greeting everyone else who arrives. They do socials too, heading out after runs to the Clubhouse pub.
And then, a few minutes after seven, we’re off. I’ve run with Russians, Poles, Canadians, Americans, Australians, Turks, Swiss, Germans and French people as well as more whose nationalities I haven’t found out. It’s always the same route, unless you want to do more. Along the lake to the park, up to Rue de Lausanne, along to the botanical gardens, up Imperatrice, right to Pregny, left at the cafe, left on the brow of the hill, right by the church and down, then left at the road, immediately right, then right again until you reach Place de Nations. Diagonally across there, down France, across Lausanne and back to the lake. Phew! You got that? I only ask, because there’s only one thing we don’t seem to do at Geneva Runners and that’s directions or maps. But as long as you run with someone who has been before, you should be okay! And there are lots of variations on it that you can do and many do.
Today was my first time with the Garmin watch and it felt good. I pushed myself all the way, helped by a German guy who I know I’ve not kept up with before. Afterwards he was apologising for not having been able to go faster, whereas I was amazed that I kept up with him and two other guys who we ran with. Back home, checking over my stats, cross-posted to the Strava app, I can see that I did the Geneva Runners course in 39:48, which is several minutes faster than I’ve ever done it before. Woo!
For the Janathon stats, I include my runs from home and back too, giving me a lovely 7.24 miles in 1:02:10 at 8:35 minutes per mile. I ran 5k in 25:02, faster than my best ever parkrun time (though helped by some downhill) and I ran 10k in 52:35. Good times.