Best Foreign Travel Destinations For Runners
It’s always a challenge to maintain your fitness when traveling, especially in foreign countries, but runners have an advantage because the clothing needed is light and it’s an activity that doesn’t require a workout center or special equipment.
A phone call or email to the hotel you’re staying at will usually get you information on weather conditions and good local areas for running. It’s easy for the avid runner to pack for traveling, because shoes and running gear will easily fit in your carryons or luggage. Running clothes dry quickly, so you can wash them in the hotel sink and hang to dry before the next morning’s run.
In my travels both for business and pleasure, I’ve used my morning run to scout out places to eat, tourist attractions and interesting neighborhoods off the beaten path. If you’re an avid runner, there are many places outside the U.S. that offer excellent running locales and often cater to the footloose with numerous paths and parks.
Here are a few foreign cities that are great destinations for runners:
When in Berlin, there’s no better way to sweat out the beer from the night before than with a run the morning after. Many of the historic sites can be seen on one run, including Reichstag building, Potsdam Square, Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column. The Tiergarten is an excellent runners park.
For help, Mike’s SightRunning Berlin has organised runs both day and night.
The beauty of Paris is best seen on foot and there is so much to see that runners have a definite advantage. Begin with the Eiffel Tower and the Arch de Triumph and branch out in any direction. The Eiffel Tower is also the perfect landmark to help get you back to your hotel if you get lost.
Yes, the cobblestone streets and occasional dog droppings will slow down your pace, but who wants to speed through Paris? Paris Running Tours has daily runs and will customise one just for you.
The birthplace of the marathon is Athens, Greece, so tracing the approximate course of both the original and the first Olympic marathon in 1896 is a great vacation for serious runners.
There are excellent tours for participants in the annual Athens Marathon – it’s a challenging hilly course so it’s not for beginners – and hotels in the Athens area can provide detailed maps of short runs past the landmarks that mark the birthplaces of both democracy and running.
I’m going to count Canada as a foreign destination because it’s another country and Vancouver is such a great city to run in. There are some great trails like the Baden Powell trail and fabulous beach runs, especially along the Spanish Banks.
The Vancouver Marathon takes in some good running parks so check a map of the route for more idea. One more thing about Vancouver – the weather provides lots of great running days.
London has it all for the running vacationer – great routes past historic scenery through beautiful parks and a vibrant running community with plenty of local races to join in. London is well marked for tourists so it’s relatively easy to find your way back to your hotel if you get lost.
Most running tourists in London make sure to go past Big Ben, the Tower of London Buckingham Palace and the London Eye ferris wheel on runs along the Thames River and across the Tower Bridge. Check the route of the annual London Marathon for more ideas.
The Great Wall, China
For runners who are also Monty Python fans: “And now for something completely different!” As China continues its growth, it has become a popular vacation spot for foreign tourists. The crowds and traffic in most big cities in China make it tough to run while visiting there – not to mention the pollution, if you remember some of the outdoor shots at the Beijing Olympics, especially prior to the marathon.
But one place is worth lacing up your shoes to run and see – the Great Wall. The best way to run the Great Wall is by scheduling your trip around the Great Wall Marathon or one of the many shorter races in the area – the brochures will give you information about training for this challenging run as well as how and where to obtain visas, best places to stay and transportation to and from the race. Even the fittest are advised to take it slow both because of the hills, stairs and fabulous scenery.
Run anywhere you travel
There are many more great foreign travel destinations for runners and organizations that can help plan a running trip. Cities that host the world’s top marathons and distance races usually have large enthusiastic running communities. An Internet search for “<city> runners clubs” is a good first step on your run towards a great and fit vacation.
About the Author: Paul Seaburn is a well-traveled former computer engineer and corporate manager turned freelance writer. His airport forays are just a warmup for the miles he has done around the world. Paul writes for a public radio weekly jazz-blues and comedy show, and for a variety of other websites, including Catalogs.com.