Guest Post: Pied Piper in Portugal
Today we have a guest post from our Aussie internet friend, Loz. Loz likes nerding out and is curious to try new things. During his trip to Europe in 2011 he participated and enjoyed various sports from parkour to ultimate frisbee. He is a diehard wrestling and basketball fan and was fortunate to experience both in several countries.
He is currently setting the table for his mission to visit the 30 NBA Cities, he hopes this will connect him with as many interesting people as possible. You can check out his basketball blog HERE
and his travel blog HERE
and follow him on Twitter
During my Eurotrip in 2011 I had several memorable sporting moments that connected me with awesome people and even graced me with a few prizes. Nike’s Lunarun in Lisboa, Portugal earned me my highest honor. I had stumbled onto the event en route to an art opening near Bairro Alto, when I noticed a stage was being set up at Camões Square with runners milling about. I inquired about the commotion and was told it was a “Pied Piper Run”. I had been introduced to a similar concept at Hash Run in New York weeks earlier. I signed up and in the 30 minutes I had to spare, downed a steak sandwich and cerveja whilst enjoying the early stages of the Europa League semifinals featuring a historic 3 teams from Portugal.
Though I consider myself active, I have just a handful of experience with organised sport and zero interest in the gym. On the eve of my lone time tackling Sydney’s iconic ‘City to Surf’ (13km fun run) I arrived home at 4am after a late night at a board game cafe. I’ve found that I’m driven by pride but interestingly it leads to a competitiveness only within that moment. I’ve never really mastered anything and have no motivation to train. I will try anything once but it seems I’ve taken that literally. Its a character flaw I’m working on, but in this instance was arguably an asset.
When I arrived for the start of the race I asked some locals about their previous experience. They explained it was the third in a series of weekly running events
. We would be given an unmarked map with 5 checkpoints and clues to their whereabouts. The information gleamed was particularly handy as all the announcements and written instructions were in Portuguese. Regardless, I’d only been in Lisboa three days, so the clues would have made little sense anyway. The eager crowd loosened up to playful warm-ups over some cheesy hype songs. This was going to be fun.
When the starter’s pistol fired, the hundreds of runners scattered frantically. I followed a group and ran within their stream. The event doubled as a great way to see the city as we passed several districts and “miradouros” (overlooks) I had yet to visit. I realised my strategy of shadowing would only yield a modest finish, so I had the foolhardy idea of breaking away from the pack. It was a potentially costly decision, as I didn’t see a soul on my new path. I eventually found my way to the main road and the welcome sight of other racers, luckily happening onto my final checkpoint near where we started and would finish.
We congregated by the square as we waited for the rest of the pack to trickle in. Pizza and agua were served and I reconnected with a few runners I’d met before the race to compare notes. They informed me earlier that there were prizes for the first place finish as well as a lucky draw winner. While chomping my pizza I curiously asked what was going on. He explained that the announcer was calling out for number 73, his friend interjected “Nah man, he’s saying 76″.
That was me! I ran excitedly towards the stage rifling through my tote bag, the moment hung as I searched for my winning passport. Found it! Apparently they’d already moved onto the second number as no one had claimed number 76. Phew! I got on the podium and held up the large novelty cheque and flashed an award winning smile.
I ended up returning for the 5th and final Lunarun 3 weeks later, punctuating my unforgettable time in Lisboa. That run itself ended with no prizes but was capped by a pillow fight gauntlet at the finish and a party by the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara.
My stay in Portugal amounted to 2 magical months that included road tripping with vagabonds and spending a month with my Brazilian ‘Familia Feliz’ in Porto. The cheque allowed me to personalise a shoe of my choice. It was only fitting that I’d create a design honoring my time in this amazing country. The shoe was red, green and yellow based on the national flag. I had befriended an employee of the sports store days earlier and sought his counsel for the Portuguese phrase I’d have stitched on the shoe. I wanted it to encapsulate the serendipity, connectedness and good spirits of my time here – “Tudo Bom!” – It’s all good!