Yesterday I took part in the 5km run in Sofia for the second time. I had been putting off taking part previously as I thought that I wouldn’t be good enough to join in and that it would be too difficult. After some persuasion I joined last week and I loved it! So much so that I returned to run again this weekend!
The 5km run is held in South Park (Южен Парк) every Saturday morning. There are also 5km runs in Burgas, Plovdiv and Varna. Currently the run start time is 9am, however in the winter months the start time moves back to 10am. To find the starting point head from the fountain and look for all the tall flags saying 5km Run (next to the outdoor gym and table tennis tables). The 5km run is very well organised and you can choose whether you’d like your times to be recorded anonymously or with your name. If you’d like to keep a track of your results you should register on their website before you join and then print out your barcode to take along to each race.
When you arrive you’ll see everyone gathering around and doing some warming up. There’s a place where you can leave your rucksack/jackets while you run near the start/finish line which is really convenient. When it’s time to start everyone heads to the start line which is marked out with chalk. My advice is this, if you’re a good runner, get yourself to the front, if you’re not, stay towards the back. The reason for this is that the ‘good’ runners start very fast, if you’re not running at their pace you will just get in their way! I stay towards the back so I can start at my own pace, it’s not a race for me, I’m just trying to improve my own time! If however you’re fast and competitive then race away, they sometimes have prizes for the best runners! There are also some cool incentives, such as a free t-shirt when you’ve completed 50 runs. Just 48 more to go until I get mine! 🙂
At the end of the route you will run through the finish line, usually with lots of encouragement from the organisers and spectators. You will be given a tag which you then take along with the barcode that you printed to the guys and girls with the yellow vests and orange dishes. They will scan your tag and barcode which will allow them to register your time and ranking in the website. You can then check all the results online usually later in the day. You can see the last results here. If you don’t want your name on the site just simply hand in your tag and they will register you as an anonymous runner.
It’s free to take part and usually there are between 200-300 people. It’s great for people of all ages and I’ve seen people running with their children, their dogs and even pushing their baby in a pram! There’s no excuse not to try the 5km run, even if you’re not a great runner, you don’t have to race and if you lose the crowd of runners there’s plenty of markings around the park to ensure you follow the route. There’s also one organiser who will run behind the very last person meaning that you won’t be alone if you find yourself at the back.
I love the encouragement that running with this group gives me, I’ve already achieved a personal best time and I’m working on improving it further each week! I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the organisers for all their hard work and for making this possible!
In addition to the Saturday run in South Park there are other runs that they organise too, you can find out more on their Facebook page. Unfortunately the website and Facebook page don’t offer English explanations but I’m sure using google translate or a helpful friend, you’ll figure out the details!