Pack your bags and lace up those running shoes because we’re heading to Budapest!
Budapest, a city that seamlessly weaves its rich history into a vibrant contemporary culture, was not only the backdrop for this year’s World Athletics Championships but also home to the ASICS FrontRunner International meet up. An event bringing together 150 Frontrunners from 33 different countries. With 11 members of the UK team attending, I was lucky enough to be one of them. It was my first visit to the Hungarian capital, and in preparation, I had created a TikTok inspired bucket list. What followed were three whirlwind days filled with excitement, camaraderie, and unforgettable memories.
Here’s a rundown of our experience:
Day One – Embracing Budapest’s Beauty and Heatwave:
Our adventure began with a morning photo shoot against the magnificent backdrop of Budapest’s iconic landmarks. Budapest’s architecture, from Buda Castle to the Gothic beauty of the Parliament Building, left me in awe. Being an architecture geek, I could have easily spent days exploring this city’s many stunning buildings. After completing the photo shoot, we had a few hours to squeeze in some sightseeing.
Cozzies on, we headed to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths, an iconic symbol of Hungary’s thermal bathing tradition. Nestled in a stunning Neo-Baroque palace, this complex boasts indoor and outdoor pools filled with healing mineral-rich thermal waters.
Later in the day, we embarked on a shakeout run, and to our delight, a surprise awaited us – a police escort to ensure our safety through Budapest’s bustling streets. The midpoint of the run transformed into an impromptu street rave, with tunes blasting from a camper van. The team’s boundless energy was matched only by the soaring temperatures. As we continued our run, spectators cheered, and some even joined in, making it feel like a true celebration of unity. It was a fantastic way to kick off our Budapest adventure, and we concluded the evening with a warm welcome dinner at ASICS house.
Day Two – ASICS Championships:
Our second day was action-packed as we set sail for Margaret Island, ready for the ASICS Frontrunner Championships. The island itself was a picturesque oasis nestled in the heart of the river Danube, where lush greenery and a tranquil atmosphere greeted us upon disembarking. As part of the ASICS Championships, we participated in a mini pentathlon – something I was looking forward to. Each discipline presented its unique challenges; however, we were fortunate to have a team of incredibly knowledgeable coaches. They were experts not only in their respective disciplines but also passionate about helping us improve. For someone like me, with limited experience in track and field events, this was a golden opportunity to learn and I enjoyed it.
We divided into 12 teams, encouraging interactions with fellow ASICS Frontrunner teammates we might not have met otherwise. The competitive spirit was evident, yet it brought us all closer together. This experience was one of my favourites, as it embodied what the ASICS FrontRunner Team is all about – a diverse group of individuals from various backgrounds, cultures, and all corners of the world united by a singular passion: movement. With the championships over, Alex and I had a free hour on our hands and decided to savour the moment. A chimney cake (a traditional Hungarian pastry we had heard great reviews about) seemed like the perfect way to refuel. We devoured those sugary spirals so quickly; if there were championship medals for dessert consumption, we would’ve taken home the gold and silver!
With our sweet cravings satisfied, we headed back to our accommodation to freshen up for the infamous ASICS black hat party (in case you are wondering, you must wear a black hat). Here, we danced, laughed, and celebrated our collective achievements – the perfect end to the day.
Day Three – Exploring Budapest, Danube River Cruise, and World Athletics Championships:
On the third day, our exploration of Budapest continued. Our first stop was The Fisherman’s Bastion, one of the city’s most celebrated landmarks, offering unrivaled panoramic views of Budapest. In the evening, we embarked on a dinner cruise along the Danube River. The ornate bridges and historic landmarks glittered against the backdrop of the night sky. We enjoyed the stunning views, and ate dinner as the boat transported us to the National Stadium for the World Athletics Championships 2023.
Upon arriving at the stadium, we were enveloped in an electrifying atmosphere. The buzz of the crowd, the sea of vibrant flags, and attendees adorned in their national colors infused the air with excitement. We were fortunate to secure VIP seats, providing us with an astonishingly close view of the action. Witnessing the event in the stadium was an unforgettable experience. It was truly a remarkable evening. I’ve developed a newfound appreciation for pole vaulting. I couldn’t get over the seemingly modest height of the bar, which appeared deceptively low on television.
To cap off our evening at the stadium, we couldn’t resist trying Langós, a Hungarian street food delicacy. Essentially deep-fried dough, it boasted a crispy exterior and a fluffy interior. It is typically served piping hot and adorned with garlic, sour cream, and grated cheese. Yum!
An Unforgettable Experience:
Budapest – you have been amazing, with an incredible, jam-packed few days in a beautiful city alongside an amazing, vibrant team. I cannot express how grateful I am to have had this incredible opportunity. A huge thank you to ASICS for making this possible and allowing me to be a part of this unforgettable experience. It will forever hold a place in my heart. Signing out with sweat, sunburn, and a newfound love of athletics. Now, it’s time to catch up on some sleep! Budapest, I will be back!