I was in Milan over Christmas and I thought I couldn't miss the parkrun of the city where I was born, writes Grazia Manzotti. It was a nice experience.
It is in a big park in the North of Milan. They all meet in a running shop, where there are toilets lockers and showers. Very impressive organisation, but it would not work at Tonbridge with 500+ runners. I got there and they immediately made me feel very welcome. There were 8 more parkrun tourists, 4 from England including myself, 2 from South Africa and 2 from Ireland. Considering the total number of runners was only 54 that was a high percentage of tourists. We all walked from the shop to the start together and there they took out the flag. A massive Italian flag they use to start the parkrun and to take photos with tourists. They immediately got some photos with me and the flag and the other tourists. Apparently it is not just a flag - it was the flag which was used to start a 100 miles world motorbike race where Italy won.
The start should be at 9 but I was told it is like well around 9.00. They always take a group photo before the start, they give some briefing both in Italian and English and then they start and it was around 9.10! The course is definitely a PB course 2 laps around a flat park, but they did say it was really icy as it was -4!
It was very icy indeed, you could see thick ice on the path so it wasn't the day to try for a PB! I enjoyed the run and as soon as I finished, I was presented with a massive slice of panettone (the Italian Christmas cake) and a full glass of prosecco! Well that was a surprise. It certainly doesnt happen in Tonbridge! I really enjoyed the atmosphere, such a friendly parkrun. I got dragged away by my dad who had been freezing to death waiting for me. He said to me how come you were talking to them as if you had known them forever? and I said they are runners… us runners, we are a friendly bunch! I shall be back next time I go to Milan! Oh and my time was like 20 seconds off but they did tell me sometimes the time is kind of approximate as it is not the Olympics!