No, I didn’t run around the world. But I did go for runs in lots of places as we circumnavigated, and I wanted to write about that a little bit. Bringing my running stuff was a relatively late decision, made a couple of weeks before we left. I’d never brought my gear with me on any of our longer vacations (one exception: nine years ago when we were in Italy for a wedding and I was training for a marathon), but this was… well, this was way longer.
And, I’m a nicer, better person when I get a little exercise in. So I brought my stuff. Boy, I am glad I did. I’m a morning person – Julie and Fi are not. When we were in a place that made sense, I got up early and went. I ran in cities, I ran on beaches, I ran in small towns and mountain towns. I found it particularly helpful on travel days; burning out some energy before dealing with trains and planes and taxis and the inevitable snafus was pretty helpful. Also, if we were in a new place, I’d sometimes discover things on foot that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Running… it’s helpful to everyone!
My Favorite Places I Ran, Ranked
- Sydney, Australia. The best city for running, and it’s not particularly close. Starting from Circular Quay, you can run in either direction along the waterfront – towards the parks and the opera house, or to Darling Harbor. Both are magnificent. The views are stunning (The bridge! That water! The ferries!), the path is carless, well-marked, and varied, and did I mention the views?
- Stubai Valley, Austria. The valley is replete with walking/running/biking paths that turn into trails the higher up the mountains they go. I ran from our front door to the villages up and down the valley, and was able to turn them into fun loops along the riverside. It’s impossible to get lost, and the location is unbeatable.
- Hyde Park, London. I was coming off of COVID while we were there, so my legs felt leaden and my lungs were a bit weak, but Hyde Park is an absolute gem. Quiet, verdant green, with early-morning horseback riders in weird uniforms doing odd equestrian things. Lots of other runners, too – it felt very much like a thing.
- Edinburgh, Scotland. A surprise entrant to this one (for me, at any rate). From our hotel I was able to easily get to the paths around Arthur’s Seat, which was devoid of cars and sunny at seven in the morning. As I rounded the top I heard some pump-you-up music playing, and I descended smack into the Edinburgh Marathon! I ran alongside them for a mile or so, soaking up the always-fun race start atmosphere.
- Salzburg, Austria. There’s a path along the Salzach River. Run as far as you want, cross a bridge, come back. If I lived there I’d happily do that every day.
- Aguillar de Campoo, Spain. Beautiful running paths up to the dam, and down along the river. Nothing too amazing, but great running.
- San Sebastian, Spain. I ran every morning here (our hotel room was small, and there was no way to not wake the others up when I was up early without going to the bathroom to read). The paths along the waterfront and around the castle are quite pretty, and I was happy to note that by the third day I was recognizing other running regulars and the morning beat cops. Also, there’s something pretty special about the quiet of an early Sunday morning in a town like that. It’s a special kind of quiet, like a sense of relief that the Saturday night crowds have finally gone to bed.
- Caunes-Minervois, France. Up the road a bit from Au Pont Romain is the entrance to a trail system; it climbed up the hillside to a ridge, then down to the village. I ran it in the mornings before the sun had topped the nearby hills, and it was wonderful. The one day I ran it late in the sun, it hurt.
- Burlington, Vermont. I love Burlington. I’ve been running there over fourteen years of visits, and there aren’t many better path systems than the Champlain Bikeway. The morning view from Overlook Park with the sun shining on the Adirondacks and the lake is choice.
Pekutatan Beach, Bali. I got about thirty minutes in before sunrise, and hoo boy, was I sweaty. Bonus points for the semi-stray dogs that followed me for most of the way.
Second hottest place? Duxbury, Massachusetts during a heat wave. Ugh. I dunno how East Coast people live in the summer.
On the treadmill at the Carlton Hotel Singapore gym. Running in a gym is a total bummer, but Singapore is hot enough to make running inside feel like the only real option.
I’m home now as I write this, getting back to my favorite runs in San Francisco. And if you look at my ranked running spots above, there’s a pretty obvious common thread: Running is best where you’re on a path with no cars. Cars are loud and dangerous. So, despite what you might think, the best places to run aren’t in the country or the suburbs. They’re usually in cities, and cities with separated pedestrian spaces are the absolute best – no matter where in the world you’re running.