Over the past three years, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to travel to different parts of the world. Well, let’s just say the Northern Hemisphere, because although I was once about 70 miles from the Equator, I’ve never actually crossed it.
Of course, on all of those travels I’ve laced up my shoes and gone for a run. Running is such a great chance to see new places from a perspective that isn’t there when I am in tourist-mode. When I go for a run in a new place, there is a feeling of freedom to it, and my senses are a little more open to seeing things I might otherwise miss.
Here are four of my favorite places:
Central Park, New York – With all due respect to every beautiful place I’ve run in and around Chicago, Central Park is without a doubt my favorite place in the world to run. While I only get to New York once a year or so, our favorite hotel is less than a mile from the park, so it is easy to scoot up there.
Last year I had the opportunity to run the entire loop of the park, and it is amazing how such a beautiful place could be carved out among the canyons of buildings that make up Manhattan. The people that set aside the land for the park were true visionaries.
One thing I didn’t expect in the park were the hills, because some of them, especially in the southeast corner of the park, are massive. My two goals for Central Park are to run it during the summer when everything is in full bloom, and to someday finish the New York City Marathon there.
Rome, Italy – Actually, the Eternal City could be the subject of its own column, because it’s that epic. Imagine running in a city that is more than 2,000 years old: it’s a breathtaking experience, and not just because of the hills and pollution!
I was able to run twice while I was there, once I ran from the apartment where we were staying to the Colosseum, and the other time I ran to the Olympic Stadium. Since our apartment was close to the Vatican I made it a point to run through St. Peter’s Square on both runs. Running in a place like Rome is a surreal experience, and as I ran along I kept thinking to myself, “am I really doing this?”
Singapore – Singapore, as well as Dubai, where I have also visited and run, is the opposite of Rome, but just as fascinating. The city’s growth has only come in the last 50 years or so, which means Singapore is ultra-modern in terms of its architecture, innovation and technology. Because I like all that stuff, I enjoyed my runs there.
What makes Singapore unique as a running city is its climate – the heat index is typically over 110 degrees every day, and most people wait until late at night to run. I saw people running at midnight or even later to find the “coolest” part of the day to get their miles (or kilometers) in.
Since I didn’t have the luxury of running then, I typically ran in the late morning and enjoyed a nice path along the Singapore River that ran through the Clarke Quay, a small restaurant and bar district along the river. Thankfully there were plenty of vendors selling water along the route.
Monaco – I know a lot of people have this impression of Monaco that it’s this playground for the rich and famous, everything is gold plated and everyone drives supercars, but to tell the truth, while it is all of those things, it’s also a lot more “normal” than many might think. Despite still being a kid at heart who grew up in a small town in Central Illinois, I felt very comfortable there. I will say I did love seeing the supercars all over the place, and I even got to drive one too!
I enjoyed running in Monaco, and during my time there I took two different routes: one went on a path along the Mediterranean, and the other wound through the city along the famous Grand Prix of Monaco course.
The run along the waterfront was memorable because it had the water on one side and the city skyline on the other. Since Monaco is built into a steep mountainside, it gives off a towering presence. That path left the principality of Monaco and went into France, so I can say I’ve run in both places!
The route along the grand prix course went right through the heart of the city, but what a tough run. From the starting line in the heart of downtown to the casino one kilometer away, the elevation changes over 150 feet. Talk about a killer hill! Still, it was a blast running on such a historic racecourse.
Traveling to new places is always fun and exciting, and going for a run in a far off place in the world always adds to the experience.