Galkowo Stories and Tips

On your starters orders

Mazury  Photo, Masuria, Poland

About three weeks ago we went on our second trip to Warmia and Mazuria. This time it was because my son was running in a 10k trail run in a small village called Gałkowo . We didn’t actually stay in the village but we stayed not too far away in a village close to Lake Inulec, called Zełwągi . We arrived late Friday night at our accommodation, made some food, had a walk to the lake and then went to bed knowing that we all had to be up early in the morning so my son could register in the race.

A good night’s sleep is something we didn’t have as my grandson was up most of the night with a high temperature. He would not go to sleep at all and was very fretful. So my son could get some rest before his run I took Alex, my Grandson into my bed and he lay on my chest and eventually fell asleep.

The run started at 10am, this was the 10k trail run but a marathon was being run as well which started at 9am. My son figured that if he arrived just before 9am he would be in time to register for his race. It was a bit of rush job getting everyone organised but after a quick cup of coffee and some bread rolls we all huddled in the car and made our way to Gałkowo .

Gałkowo is a pretty village in the countryside in the municipality of Ruciane-Nida. It is famous for breeding horses, stud farms and competitions. Across from where the race had been set up was a stud farm and we were allowed to look at the horses. It was interesting to see some horses being exercised in an undercover auditorium. There were 6 horses walking in a circular route with a metal divide behind each horse’s rump. They would walk so far and then change direction. This was a continuous process and the horses seemed to enjoy being walked.

The race event was set up in a field across the road from the stud farm. To reach this field we came into the village from the back and parked the car in another field along with other cars. This field was undulating and a bit marshy so we had to tread carefully with a pram as we didn’t want to be bogged down.

The PA system, media stalls, registration table, food stalls and deck chairs were situated in a large area separated by a fence, originally used as a paddock for the horses. T Mobile was one of the sponsors and had a couple of camps set up, inflatable tents where you could sit inside out of the sun. It was set out and looked well organised although I did think the commentator‘s voice was far too loud and eventually irritated me.

While my son went off to be registered we walked around to see what was on offer for the children, things to keep them occupied while their Daddy was running. There was an area opposite the media circle that had a bouncy castle; a large trampoline netted in so small children couldn’t fall off, a mechanised merry go round with small wooden ponies on, a stall selling popcorn and candy floss. My son informed us that his running time would be about an hour so there was enough here to keep the kids occupied; also we could walk across the road to the stud farm to look at the horses.

The queue for registration was quite long and we were worried that our son wouldn’t be able to register in time. We saw the marathon runners run off at 9am which was very exciting and then about 15 minutes before the 10k race was due to start we saw our son near to one of the media tents. He had in his hand a bag containing a free Nike shirt advertising the event and his number which I had to pin on to his shirt. He looked calm and collected and said he would like a walk around to see if he could find one of his students who was at the race. We said that we would go and find a place in the shade on the opposite side of the road near to the start area so we could get a good viewing spot.

We managed to get a great spot under trees where we could see the start of the race and the road ahead. As the runners started to line up behind the starting line the media started to line up on the other side. There were quite a few camera people from one of Poland’s TV News show and one girl walked up to us and took some photos of my granddaughter. She was obviously taken with her bright pink Hello Kitty floppy hat. Once the announcer started to count down I got really excited and couldn’t wait for the camera people to get out of the way so I could focus on my son. I couldn’t see him at first as there were over 500 runners. As they slowly started to run off I managed to see him and waved. Within minutes the runners were on their way through forest paths following the route of the trail run. We walked back to the children’s play area to play with the kids until it was time when we heard the announcer call names over the loud speaker of the first runners to return.

Although both the information & media areas were well organised I think both could have done with more shade as it was a scorcher of a day, both kids and myself were over heated and for the life of me couldn’t find a drinks stall. There were a couple loaded with water and energy drinks near to the start off but they were for the runners on their return. We had to keep walking to find shade under the trees.

Eventually, we heard the announcer call the first few names of the runners on their return. We thought we had better stand on the roadway to look for our son returning so I could get a few snaps of his victory. It was fun and exciting to see the runners complete the race. Many children were waiting for their Daddies to return and some would run out into the road to shake their hands or ‘give them 5’. My granddaughter was getting excitable and couldn’t stop jumping up and down. Suddenly we heard our son’s name shouted out from the PA and we could see him running up to the finish line, I was so excited that I didn’t focus my camera on him and ended up taking a photograph of the runner in front of him. I thought he would be cross about this but he laughed about it. Trust Mum!

His time was 57 minutes and he came about 200th,I thought this was very good to say it was his first race. He walked back to the trampoline area to sit with us, he was pretty tired but soon got his breath back, he was wearing his brand new shiny medal attached to a blue ribbon. I felt very proud of him.

He told us that the race was a tough one as it was quite hilly in places but he seemed happy with his progress and pleased that he had a brand new racing shirt, a medal and lots of free energy drinks. It cost 50 zloty (approx. £10) to enter the race. He also found out later that the organisation could have booked him some accommodation which would have been cheaper than where we were staying.

As we walked away to the car park runners were still passing the finishing line and one of the highlights was that an old German guy, aged 82 had passed the line. My son thought this achievement was remarkable.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when my son invited us to the race but I really enjoyed it and it was a lot of fun. All the children’s facilities were free. The environment was rural and very pretty, my only two small grumbles were that it was very hot and there weren’t any shady areas. I will certainly go again if he enters next year.

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