For those who strive to maintain fitness while traveling, running is one of the more accessible forms of exercise. All you need is a good pair of running shoes, a nice stretch of trail/road/shoreline and the will to pound some proverbial pavement and you’ve got the potential for a great workout. And let’s be honest, after those long nights of partying and the accompanying feasts (ahem, binges), we can all use a good workout. More to the point though, a prime benefit of running while traveling is the ability to explore your surroundings in a manner that you otherwise wouldn’t; runs of 5, 10, or 15+ miles allow you to see more of your location and to see it differently than if you were walking, driving or part of a tour group. Not only do you set the pace and the direction, but, if you get up early enough as most runners do, chances are you’ll see an entirely different side of your destination – one that’s bathed in the honeyed and lilac hues of dawn.
Speaking of destinations, a lot of runners have began embracing the destination race where you travel to a location to compete (or complete…) a run. Marathons are the prime example of this phenomenon with people flooding the streets of London, Chicago, New York, Tokyo and countless other cities annually, and in increasing numbers, to test their intestinal fortitude against 26.2 miles. To cater to this crowd, several groups have formed to unite runners and create a community around destination racing, such as the 50 States Marathon Club
and the 7 Continents Club
. I’m obligated to mention that I’m on my own quest to run 57 marathons
(50 States + D.C. + 7 Continents), so I’m biased in my fondness for destination racing and the opportunities it presents for travel and challenge.
Marathoning and destination races aside, I reiterate my original point, that running is an excellent way to maintain fitness while on the road and to explore your surroundings. But what about you? Are you a runner and, if so, any memorable runs you want to share? I’ll get this list started with some of the more poignant non-marathon runs I’ve had:
- Midnight run in Reykjavik with a couple of loops from the “pond” (Tjörnin) to the Pearl (Perlan) and back.
- Sunrise run along the south rim of the Grand Canyon. I would suggest leaving the headphones back at camp for this one.
- Running from Temple Bar through Phoenix Park in Dublin. The city was just starting to get going and commuters clogged the main downtown arteries…slow going, but rewarding once I got to the Park. So lush, so green, so open.
- From the Embarcadero over the Golden Gate Bridge and back again. Watching the fog form and dissipate on the horizon was as surreal a moment as they come.
- Finally, in my own back yard, numerous early morning runs on the Santa Fe trail in Colorado Springs, CO. I’ll never forget taking in the sweeping vista of rock and snow and star and sky. Pikes Peak, illuminated by the moon stood out in pure form.
Happy travels (and happy running)…