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Pints & Parkruns: Tychy

A first foreign foray in Upper Silesia

By Andy PottsPublished 2 years ago 3 min read

I picked a good day to visit Tychy parkrun. It was the 200th edition, so there was a celebration in the air. For a first-timer, especially one who doesn’t speak Polish, that meant a reassuringly large turn-out. There was no danger of getting lost, even though the signposts around the park refer to an earlier version of the parkrun route.

Tychy's course loops around Polnocny Park, one of the many green spaces in this new town. The name comes for the Polish word for ‘quiet’ or ‘tranquil’ and, for most of its history, the town lived up to its billing. Then came the white heat of post-war Socialist technology and rapid suburban development. Able to start more or less from scratch, town planners had the opportunity to construct the communal dream. Modern-day Tychy is a spacious mix of wide streets and low-rise apartment blocks interspersed with frequent parks. Polnocny, or Northern park is an extension of the Park of City Solidarity in the shadow of the town hall. It's flanked by schools and within walking distance of the city stadium, an athletics track and a swimming pool. Parkrun is a good fit in a district dedicated to exercise.

It’s also a good place to run. Three laps around two small lakes make for a lovely environment. Regular readers might recall my preference for running next to water, and may have guessed that this partly reflects the likelihood of flat paths at water level. Tychy doesn’t disappoint: the lakeside tranquillity is inspiring, the paths are smooth and well-paved. And, at the end, a finish line on a small island gives space to gather over tea and cake (at least, on special occasions).

Tychy was also my first experience of an overseas parkrun, and a first hint at how things can be the same, yet different. The briefing proved oddly familiar: the language changes, the sentiment doesn’t.Volunteers are applauded, milestones congratulated. Those congrats are a touch more formal, though. This was the first time I saw a run director handing out certificates for 50-timers and 100-timers.

Another distinctively Polish feature was the piped music – themes from Star Wars, 80s soft rock classics in the Final Countdown mould and, oddly, a local cover version of ‘Living next door to Alice’ complete with Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown’s monotonous interjections rendered faithfully into Polish. Buggies and dogs joined the run, as did a couple of girls on roller blades. While British runs tend to be fairly strict about keeping dogs on appropriate leashes, here we had at least one running free for the first lap until he got bored and went off in search of more interesting scents.

What came across most strongly of all, though, was the sense of community familiar from parkrunning back home. Regulars are much-loved and warmly welcomed, and there is always a friendly word for a new face. Arriving for the 200th edition was a stroke of good fortune, but landing in Poland at any time would be a good introduction to international parkruns.

The pint

Tychy’s most famous attraction is the Tyskie brewery, which has since established a market for itself in the UK. It’s big enough to cast a wonderful hoppy smell across the town, sparking Proustian reflections of childhood trips into Sunderland when Vaux was working at full pelt. And the converted chapel turned brewery tap isn’t the worst place for a drink.

Disappointingly, though, 400+ years of brewing tradition have seen Tyskie morph into one of the global brewing behemoths. As a result, the end product is safe rather than spectacular. Drinkers in search of greater inspiration are better heading to Wielokran. This little gem keeps up to 10 brews on tap and specialises in sourcing the efforts of Poland’s burgeoning craft scene. Locally, the Obywatelski browary, based in a cultural centre just beyond the main railway station, is the big noise and it has a solid enough lager that looks like a permanent feature behind the bar. But the real delight is exploring the beer card: the highlight of my trip was a dangerously quaffable chocolate orange stout from the Maryensztadt brewery in Zvolen, more time would have allowed for an extensive study of the state of Polish independent brewing.

Visited: April 30, 2022. Time 24:45

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About the Creator

Andy Potts

Community focused sports fan from Northeast England. Tends to root for the little guy. Look out for Talking Northeast, my new project coming soon.

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    Andy PottsWritten by Andy Potts

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