Time to get muddy

We wrap up our quarterly lifestyle guide with an overview of fall’s best – and muddiest – runs

Autumn approaches with its fabulous russets and golds. Yes, many find the indoors more attractive, but more and more Danes are sticking to their outdoor exercise activities. 

Mud, mud, glorious mud

In autumn, there’s nothing Danes like better than running in an event that ‘tastes of bird’ (an authentic look and feel, preferably with lots of mud) such as the Eremitageløb in Dyrehaven park north of the capital or the Marselisborgløb in Denmark’s ‘city of smiles’, Aarhus. And more mud can be found on the cross country trail, where DGI (Danish and Sports Associations) running clubs organise open fixtures that you don’t need a club membership to enjoy. Take part in a few and you may well find yourself joining a local club – one of the best ways to meet the Danes and get seriously integrated.

Cross country, discovering it

The cross country circuit is a great place to meet the Danes. The events are small and friendly. If you live in one of the cities, you won’t be more than an hour or so from a cross country event, and you’ll see nooks and crannies of the Danish countryside you never suspected. The courses may be muddy, but the distances are forgiving, well-suited to anyone who has joined a running club beginners programme following a bit of overindulgence over the summer holigans. You’ll find Løb med DGI schemes for beginners all over the country, or if you want to get in shape for the corporate DHL jamborees, why not get your employer to sign you all up for the dedicated in-house training schemes run by DGI Medarbejdermotion (medarbejdermotion.dgi.dk)?

King of the mountains

Once regarded as the purview of dads escaping from the wife and kids at weekends, mountain biking in Denmark has become a serious family affair. The biggest club in Denmark organises a kids cup series in the Copenhagen area, and more and more of those errant dads are now to be seen with mum and junior in the woods, either on their own or with club groups working up an appetite for the Sunday kaffebord. If mum isn’t with them, she is probably at the local triathlon or adventure race. Danish mums like mud too (dgi.dk/udover/paakanten.aspx).

The biathlon for bruisers

On 22 September in Feddet, near Præstø, an hour south of Copenhagen (with a good Sat Nav), you’ll find this running/mountain bike biathlon, which is being put together to kick off the lead-up to the 2013 DGI jamboree in Esbjerg. Events down south are well-organised with an informal, laid-back approach,  cheap no-frills entry fees and a guaranteed mud quotient (dgi.dk/forening/storstroemmen.aspx). 

Parkrun for the public

Every Saturday, Parkrun takes place across the country (three venues in Copenhagen, plus Hillerød, Aarhus, Vejen, Esbjerg, Nibe) at 9am. Danish runners of all ages gather for this free 5 km race, after which the results and photos are posted on the website. It is suitable for any ability, including beginners who walk and run the course, and many families take part: the only rule being that kids may only run with a smile. You register just once and then take your personal barcode along whenever you want to race. At most venues you’ll also meet visitors from abroad – particularly from the UK, where Parkrun is huge (parkrun.dk). 

DHL: everyone should try it once

Put together your own team of five runners, each of whom must complete the 5km course, passing the baton onto the next team member upon crossing the line. Over 100,000 competitors took part in the DHL Stafetten last year, celebrating before and after their leg with their colleagues from work. If you have signed up, but have not yet started training, DGI medarbejdermotion runs sessions for company employees, or you can try one of the many Løb Med DGI schemes across the country. The races are in Odense (Engen-Fruens Bøge, August 14-16) Copenhagen (Fælledparken, August 27-31), Aarhus (Mindeparken,  August 21-23) and Aalborg (Kildeparken, August 29-30).

Jonathan Sydenham, originally from the UK, enjoyed getting muddy on the rugby pitches in his youth, which might explain why he today enjoys cross country running. He is a sports consultant at the DGI (the Danish Gymnastic and Sports Association), an umbrella group for around 5,000 local associations, which massively vary in size, from the dozens to the thousands. 

For four weeks at a time, four times a year, our aim is to give you all the seasonal lifestyle advice you need to thrive in the areas of gardening, health, food and sport. When should you plant your petunias, when does the birch pollen season normally start, which week do the home-grown strawberries take over the supermarket, and which outdoor sports can you play in the snow? All the answers are here in ‘A plan for all seasons’.

Gardening, tips, by Toby MusgraveHealth tips, by Caroline CainFood, by By Dittemaria SøndergaardSport, by Jonathan Sydenham