Sometimes we take for granted the wonders that surround us. Passing by them, day by day, they become part of the background scenery like so many grey cubicle walls or maybe the framed motivational poster of a mountain with a quote about “Inspiration” at the bottom. I wanted to create a social running group that could explore local treasures, running at an easy pace so that participants could both share their views of these iconic landmarks and gain new perspectives from the other runners. Along the way, we take breaks to capture to moment and catch our breath for more running and conversation. Local, Tourist, Transplant, Expat – all bring something new to the experience.
On Wednesday, August 7th, we held our first Run and Click with a local, a transplant, and an expat. The run was completed. Conversation was had. Photos were taken. Laughter and sweat were doled out in equal amounts. We had many great suggestions and lessons learned for the next event. I had already changed the name from Run & “Shoot” – Communist Warsaw, which may have scared some people into thinking we were going to be hunting Communists. Run & Click has the double meaning of a camera and when the runners “click” with the things they have in common. We’ll move the next run to a more amiable time and be more specific and consistant with out photo breaks. Also we can invite some photographers who might want to capture runners in the city, but not necessarily run themselves. Hopefully we can partner with a bar for beverages afterwards.
For our run, I used the Communist Trail map from Warsaw In Your Pocket, however we ran the trail in reverse and started at a classic piece of Communist era architechture – Warsaw Centralna. Hailed as a masterpiece of Polish modernism, the building was rushed through construction to be a showpiece for a 1975 visit from Leonid Brezhnev. We circled around the building, ran along the backside of Zloty Terasy, and ran directly into a great view of the Palace of Culture (PoC) highlighted by the setting sun. Our first stop was by the fountain on the northside of the PoC where we tried some running photos, but the runners were too fast and my camera was too slow!
After our break, we ran along the East Wall and down into the area of the Centrum Metro they call “The Frying Pan”. Construction in the parking lot area and around the Rotunda prohibited clear photography but it’s still interesting to see how the older buildings have been adapted to modern businesses.
After navigating the underground passages and coming back up into the light, we continued to run along Marzalkowska St. with its wide variety of architecture until we got to the grand square of Plac Konstytucji. Custom designed for state parades, there was no tickertape descending from the windows as we paused to capture the worker reliefs, the dramatic columns and corridors and giant trident street lamps.
At Plac Zwbawiciela we took a sharp left on Mokowtowska headed to monolithic government buildings on Krucza, passing by classic “milk bars” and newer restaurants occupied by hipsters. The streets and the sidewalks were tighter forcing more communication among the runners while dealing with pedestrians.
A final turn on Nowogrodzka allowed us to run by The Free Speech Monument in front of the former Department of Censorship, a very dramatic sculpture that takes up most of the plaza. The end of that street empties out onto a view of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers and it’s imposing architecture, now decorated by branding signs and chic glass encased bars and eateries, some nice venues to sit back and have a cold drink after the run.
Stopping short of Nowy Swiat, we discussed the next run being either a Royal Run visiting some of the old royalty landmarks or a Warsaw Uprising Run. We will repeat the Communist Run on one of the weekends this fall. Let us know which run you would be most interested in!