Running While Travelling
As part of a recent 3-week trip beginning in Eugene, Oregon and returning from Montreal, Canada, my girlfriend, Kathy, and I were able to run in a wide variety of settings. What struck me overall was how much better travelling can be when running is an integral part of the experience. With long drives and several hours of air travel to deal with during the trip, the benefits of running were obvious. Our physical and emotional states were positively affected and our experiences were enhanced.
Whether it was the beautifual, wild trails outside of Missoula, Montana or the dirt roads and trails around lakes in central Ontario or Quebec, Mother Nature consistently offered us natural and enriching experiences we would not have had if we hadn’t made running integral to our trip. Every morning, off we would go, exploring wherever we were, earning the “way to go” comments of our hosts, and always coming back with some story of our adventure – a vigorous workout, a fox that we saw, a loon calling to us, an unexpected sight, a shared experience.
Beyond the fun and informal runs we took, it turned out that our pre trip planning and a little luck also gave us the chance to run in two very different organized runs. One, the Missoula Marathon where we both did the Half, and the other, a 5K community run in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, Ontario.
In 2009, a comprehensive Runners world survey led to The Missoula Marathon being voted the Best Marthon of the Year. In light of that recognition, we decided to schedule our trip to have a first hand look at this marathon while simultaneously giving us the chance to pay a visit to Kathy’s pregnant daughter and husband in Missoula. So, what was it like to run in the year’s best marathon event? “Fantastic” is one word for it yet other descriptors are much calmer and understated in tone – e.g., informal, friendly, well organized, community supported – an event that was not a big or over crowded extravaganza. The entrants numbered less than 5,000, so this was not another New York or Chicago marathon; yet the size was just right to get the sense of feeling a part of a large group of like minded, running and walking friends. From its early 6 a.m. start on a perfect day for running to the postive mood of its finish, and even its low key Expo the day before the race, everything fell in place smoothly. We left Missoula glad to have had that unique “we tried the best” experience.
Fast forward a week, as we were fortunate to come upon a local 5K run that was a fund raiser for community programs in a neighborhood of Ottawa so we decided to give that race a try. In the spirit of community and family which were so prevalent at this event, we also decided to run the race as a couple, running together, experiencing the vibes that go with cooperation and relationship support rather than the more common feelings that come up when we would try to run as quickly as possible. And this different approach led to a whole different experience. Awareness of our fellow runners, the people cheering us along the city streets, the time to check in with each other and to absorb how fortunate we were to be healthy and fit enough to share in this activity – all in all, a special run on a special trip.
So, if you are not already a practitioner of “Running while Travelling”, I do suggest that you give it a try. You can’t go wrong!