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Date : 19th September, 2019
Time : 1h 19’ 50”
Number of runners (total to date) : 45 (6387)
Run map and details : https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/4078442219
Luxembourg has been much in the UK news recently. More specifically, Podiumgate, when Prime Minister Xavier Bettel admonished a podium left empty by an abruptly otherwise engaged Boris Johnson, made the headlines.
A rather bizarre incident that we decided to re-enact on the run – something which, I suspect, has never been done before.
However, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s roll back to the beginning.
The Fat Betty Running Club – named after a hill that one of the founders (Dan) used to run up – meets at 18.45 on a Thursday evening in the Independent Cafe. So that’s where I met Guido (another founder), Dan and the rest of the club.
From there they took me on one of the most scenic urban runs I’ve ever been on. To try to understand why it’s such a remarkable place to run, its worth getting a grasp of the basic geography.
The city centre occupies a picturesque site on a salient, perched high on precipitous cliffs that drop into the narrow valleys of the Alzette and Petrusse rivers, whose confluence is in Luxembourg City. The 70 m (230 ft) deep gorges cut by the rivers are spanned by many bridges and viaducts – this video may give you a sense of it.
Our route took us over the Passarelle Bridge and down to the Petrusse river. From there we ran northwest along the Petrusse before doubling back on ourselves and stopping under (I think) the Pont Adolphe for the photo at the top of the blog (taken by Dan from the bridge).
Various climbs, views, mermaids ponds and bridges followed
until we eventually reached the Pfaffenthal Kirchberg. As you’ll see from the video below, there are two ways to proceed. The sensible way is via the lift. The other way is by running up about 1000 steps. As my challenge is called Run the World, rather than Get a Lift Round the World, I felt obliged to run it…
From there we crossed over the Pont Grande-Duchesse Charlotte and headed to the Prime Minister’s residence for our re-enactment. I played Boris Johnson and the rest of the runners represented Prime Minister Bettel giving vent to his frustration while I endlessly repeated that we were leaving on 31st October come what may…
Not sure we resolved Brexit but all good fun!
From there we sprinted back to the Independent Cafe for the now traditional post run plank. (The background to this slightly eccentric habit is that a number of us have taken on the Six Pack Challenge and a combination of running and planking is a good way to develop a six pack.)
Where I also had the pleasure of meeting up with some old friends from the UK – Alistair and Helen with their now all grown up daughter Hannah.
Inevitably we got talking about Brexit and Helen told a story about the lead up to the Johnson visit. Apparently all the British parents at their daughter’s schools, normally calm and peaceful people, are so angry about Brexit that the pre-visit discussion wasn’t just about demonstrating in the day – which they did – but also about what they should throw at him. I understand a milkshake was the favourite option…
Anyway, enough about Brexit. I’d like to finish with a huge thank you to Guido, Dan
and all my fellow runners for a brilliant run round Luxembourg.
To everyone I met in Luxembourg, I’d love to see you in London on 4th July 2020 for the UK, and final, leg of Run the World!
If you’d like to help fight cancer then I and, far more importantly, cancer sufferers around the world, would be immensely grateful for any donations to Cancer Research : https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dan-Thompson11
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Facts & Stats
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.
Luxembourg, officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a landlocked microstate in western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south. Its capital, Luxembourg City, is one of the four official capitals of the European Union (together with Brussels, Frankfurt, and Strasbourg) and the seat of the European Court of Justice, the highest judicial authority in the EU. Its culture, people, and languages are highly intertwined with its neighbours, making it essentially a mixture of French and German cultures, as evident by the nation’s three official languages: French, German, and the national language of Luxembourgish. The repeated invasions by Germany, especially in World War II, resulted in the country’s strong will for mediation between France and Germany and, among other things, led to the foundation of the European Union.
With an area of 2,586 square kilometres (998 sq mi), it is one of the smallest sovereign states in Europe. In 2019, Luxembourg had a population of 613,894, which makes it one of the least-populous countries in Europe but by far the one with the highest population growth rate Foreigners account for nearly half of Luxembourg’s population. As a representative democracy with a constitutional monarch, it is headed by Grand Duke Henri and is the world’s only remaining sovereign grand duchy. Luxembourg is a developed country, with an advanced economy and one of the world’s highest GDP (PPP) per capita. The City of Luxembourg with its old quarters and fortifications was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 due to the exceptional preservation of the vast fortifications and the old city.
The present-day state of Luxembourg first emerged at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. The Grand Duchy, with its powerful fortress, became an independent state under the personal possession of William I of the Netherlands with a Prussian garrison to guard the city against another invasion from France. In 1839, following the turmoil of the Belgian Revolution, the purely French-speaking part of Luxembourg was ceded to Belgium and the Luxembourgish-speaking part (except the Arelerland, the area around Arlon) became what is the present state of Luxembourg.
Luxembourg is a founding member of the European Union, OECD, United Nations, NATO, and Benelux. The city of Luxembourg, which is the country’s capital and largest city, is the seat of several institutions and agencies of the EU. Luxembourg served on the United Nations Security Council for the years 2013 and 2014, which was a first in the country’s history. As of 2018, Luxembourgish citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 186 countries and territories, ranking the Luxembourgish passport 5th in the world, tied with Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States.
World Bank Data
Here’s the latest World Bank data for Luxembourg – with the year 2000 as a comparison.
|GDP||$69.5 bn||2018||$21.3 bn||2000|
|Population||608 k||2018||436 k||2000|
|Primary school enrolment*||101%||2016||100%||2000|
|% below poverty line***||NA||NA|
|Life expectancy at birth||82.7 yrs||2017||77.9 yrs||2000|
|GNI per capita||$69 420||2017||$46 640||2000|
*Percentage can exceed 100% due to the inclusion of over and under aged students
** Metric tons per capita
***The World Bank notes that the methodology can vary between countries and over time within a given country. (While much of the World Bank data generally follows understandable trends, this number often oscillates wildly suggesting that different methodologies are frequently used over time within a given country.)
Greatest Sporting Nation Data
Finally, here’s the data from Greatest Sporting Nation on how Luxembourg performed in the global sporting arena in 2018:
Global Cup – 104th
Per Capita Cup – NA
The Global Cup aggregates results from over 1000 events across 80 sports to produce the definitive annual ranking of international sporting success. The Per Capita Cup uses the same data to produce an annual per capita ranking.