Planning your own half marathon calendar for 2019, I hesitated for a long time whether or not to go to the city of Gniezno to take part in the local half marathon. The reason for the hesitation was the financial issue, because as many as two trips abroad (to the cities of Pila and Gniezno) in a month with travel and accommodation would be a bit expensive for me. But looking the other way, I didn't really want to miss the opportunity to visit the first historical capital of Poland.
After a short hesitation, I decided to visit Gniezno and take part in the half marathon "Bieg Lechitów“. It turned out that this decision was correct because the trip turned out to be very interesting. And to save on accommodation, I decided to conduct some small experiments.
Registration took place on the official website of the main running event of the city of Gniezno: bieglechitow.pl. Everything is as usual: you specify your contact details, name, and the desired size of the T-shirt.
The road to the starting town
In 2019, I visited Poland very often. Based on his past experience, he chose two cities for himself, where it is cheap and convenient to fly from Kyiv- Warsaw and Katowice. From there it is very easy to get by train to any other city in Poland, where a half marathon is held. I got to Gniezno this time through Katowice. Departure from Kyiv was scheduled for Friday the 13th. It was not the best idea - instead of leaving the airport at 14:00, we managed to leave the Ukrainian capital only at 19:00. At the same time, my flight was constantly postponed until late at 18:00.
Initially planned to get to Gniezno via Poznan. But upon arrival in Katowice, it turned out that there was a direct train to the city and I did not have to change. The journey by train took about six hours - most of that time I overslept to regain strength after the flight.
I started my acquaintance with the historical capital of Poland from the monument to Przemysl II, which welcomes guests of Gniezno not far from the city railway station. For Poles, Gniezno has a special sacred significance, because there are many historically important locations. I would especially like to mention the cathedral, and not far from it is a beautiful monument to Prince Lech, which is hidden nearby in the park. According to legend, Lech saw an eagle's nest (the eagle depicted on the national emblem of Poland), so he decided to found the city of Gniezno on this place.
If you are not a connoisseur of historical monuments, then getting to know the city can be easily transformed into an interesting quest. Sculptures of the berserker hare, which appears in front of the audience in various figures, are hidden here and there in the city. For me, Gniezno became the third city, after the Green Mountains and Wroclaw, where I met such small interesting figures.
Starter packs were issued from 18:00 in one of the city schools. No interesting sports exhibition, such as SportExpo, was held here. After receiving my package, I went to the place where I was supposed to settle.
This time I did not book a hostel or hotel. To save money, I decided to go on a small experiment and take advantage of the offer of the organizers of the half marathon "Bieg Lechitów" to resettle the participants of the half marathon. All willing participants of the half marathon could settle in the hall of the sports complex. I already had a similar living experience when I ran half marathon in Slavutych.
What can you say about this option of living during a running event? The main thing is a very budget solution that helps to save well on travel from 50 to 200 zlotys. The participants of the half marathon were placed in the gym - the first to get quite comfortable seats on small mats. For me, such as "housing" turned out to be extremely inconvenient.
Probably, this option of accommodation is more convenient for local runners, because a participant from another country may simply not be able to bring a comfortable travel mat or sleeping bag for the night. It wouldn't fit in my tight backpack anyway, so I had to choose a karemat book, and instead of a sleeping bag - a blanket, so that my backpack could still be stuffed with things for running.
In addition, on the road, it happens that you are on your feet all day, after which there is no desire to sleep on a hard floor. Although I can't say that I will never resort to such a life hack again with living in my running adventures.
The “Bieg Lechitów” half marathon itself was very exciting, as the starting and finishing areas were located in different places. In order for all participants of the “Bieg Lechitów” race to have easy access to the starting line, the organizers took care of the transfer from the gathering place to the starting point of the half marathon.
The launchpad was set up near lake Ledinets. In the middle of this lake is a small island, where you can see the ruins of an ancient palace that belonged to the first Polish kings of the Piast dynasty.
The route of the "Bieg Lechitów" half marathon was completely paved and passed through the surrounding villages and fields, and only at the end passed through the streets of Gniezno. The finish area was located near the local cathedral.
The start of the race "Bieg Lechitów" was scheduled for 11:00. In the morning, all participants went to the buses that were to take the participants to the starting point of the half marathon. The journey there took about 30 minutes. Since there was a lot of time left before the start of the half marathon, we decided to take a short walk around the island and the museum, which was located near lake Ledinets.
According to the custom, the participants of the half marathon were divided into groups according to their time. This time I wanted to run for 1:45 hours, but it turned out that I gave up a little time. After half marathon in Pila, the “Bieg Lechitów” race became the second race in which I ran after my pulse.
I can't say that I like this way of running. Especially when the heart rate starts to rise, there are many distracting and confusing thoughts, so you have to somehow bring your heart rate back to normal. And it's just annoying. It used to be much easier for me to run when half marathons were accompanied only by good health and speed.
This time I started again with my friend Serhiy. Somewhere up to the sixth kilometer, we stayed together, after which I slowed down a bit, and he ran forward. After the fifth kilometer, my dreams of improving time began to crumble. So I decided not to hurry and try to get the most out of running and admire the surrounding scenery.
The strongest support was waiting for the participants near the finish line, although small groups of fans were scattered all the way to the half marathon. I was worried that on the way there would be sections of the road with cobblestones, but it was all paved. The only inconvenience during the half marathon was the scorching sun, from which it was impossible to hide.
The “Bieg Lechitów” half marathon turned out to be very unusual and exciting. The great merit of this is the historical background, namely the starting and finishing platforms.