Don’t you love that feeling when your country plays a match at the Football World Cup? Or when you compete in a massive sporting event? Sometimes sports are simply more fun when done or watched with thousands of people. It creates a special atmosphere not felt when running through the park by yourself and can be quite addicting. If this applies to you then take notice of the following.
6.4 kilometres south of Groningen is a small place called Haren. The University of Groningen has some facilities for the life science department there and everyday students together with commuters create a steady but relatively small stream of traffic between the two towns. Once a year though this stream explodes when 20.000 people choose to run from Groningen to Haren together. It’s called the Four Mile Run and it’s immensely popular: starting tickets are usually sold out within a few hours! Apart from recreational runners there are 400 (international) athletes and people running for charity. If you like a good run every now and then competing in this event is a must.
Running events are fashionable in Groningen. If you’re a female then you can compete in the Ladies Run. Just like with the Four Mile Run its name says it all, this event is for ladies only. See how fast you can do the 5 or 10 kilometre track, just remember to save some energy for a nice smile when you finish because all competitors carry a chip; a photograph is automatically taken when you cross the line, all exhausted and sweaty. When you’re a die hard-runner consider running half a marathon in the Bommen Berend Loop. This event is named after the German Bishop Bernhard who besieged the city in 1672; hence the name ‘bombing Berend’. The relief of the siege is still celebrated each year on the 28th of August and everyone in town has the day off, even students!
When it freezes hard during the winter months, tours for speed-skaters are organized on the lakes to the south and southeast of Groningen. Tracks are swiped clean on the ice and you can sign up for skating 10, 20, 30 km etc. If you’ve never done this before: don’t worry, everyone is allowed to skate on them recreationally.
These are just examples open for public competitors; each sport naturally holds its own events. Enough to do for an active person, but apart from competing yourself it’s also possible to just watch if you’re less energetic. The two largest clubs in Groningen are the football and the basketball team. Visit the Euroborg football stadium, and watch the pride of the north F.C. Groningen play a match for the eredivisie (primary division). Or watch the Gasterra Flames basketball team compete for the national trophy each year.