Unique places for running

Jorge García Palomo

“If you’ve never done it before, running can change your life, your perception about almost everything around you. There are many studies about this, but I won’t bore you,” says Alberto Hernández, chief editor of the prestigious magazine Runner’s World España. “Running is very simple: just you and the road. If you can enjoy that moment, you’ll want to repeat it over and over,” he tells Fresh People Mag.

Are the surroundings where you exercise really that important?, we asked. “Very important. Running in ugly places is a drag. But when you’re in a beautiful setting, it’s very enjoyable. Sometimes you can even get too mystical,” says this journalist before suggesting an inspiring course in Spain: “El Pinar de Antequera, in Valladolid. You run and run and never stop. It’s attracted runners like Mayte Martínez, Isaac Viciosa, Álvaro Rodríguez and Teodoro Cuñado. And currently, Saúl Ordóñez, Spain’s jewel over 800 metres. Not to mention writer Miguel Delibes, on a bike or on foot.”

An essential book for runners

Just you and the road… Now everyone can and should find his own road. That rural or urban ‘garden of Eden’ that motivates, a unique place in which to, in this case, enjoy athletics. Because yes, “on every continent there are places to awaken happiness: running beside the sea, in the middle of the African jungle, on Icelandic glaciers or in the heart of a city.” Words from a book that’s probably essential for runners: 100 lugares únicos para correr (100 Unique Places for Running, Ed. GeoPlaneta). Its authors, Mathieu Le Maux and Nicolas Gardon, who are experts on the subject, relate their experiences, give sports advice and provide much practical information about the chosen destinations. One hundred incredible places that should be visited at least once in a lifetime. “It’s impossible to be exhaustive, and we’ve probably left many out. It’s probably better that way,” they confess. These pages, filled with excellent photos of each location, reveal the passion of some people who love what they do.

They say that everything began, as is so often the case, “with that 10-kilometre race organised by the neighbourhood athletic club, and with a friend who had recently been converted to the running doctrine and convinced us to take part.” Starting then, they experienced a kind of epiphany, and went on to be able to get into “the small routine that is created stride by stride.” A sporting revelation that has gotten out of hand: they can’t travel without a pair of running shoes in the suitcase or the boot of the car. “Nowadays we run everywhere, all the time, to prepare for the umpteenth marathon or to break a personal record, but above all to see the world.”

Running all over the world

The Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania… 100 lugares únicos para correr presents with wisdom and rigour some ideal places for running all over the planet. Plans for accelerating the pace, step by step, toward paradise. Among other attractions, Mathieu Le Maux and Nicolas Gardon feature the New York Marathon, a huge event watched by nearly 2 million people in the streets of New York, and which they define as “the Holy Grail for runners from all over the world.” Not for nothing, almost half the spectators are from outside the city. Pure adrenalin. As is the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon, in Colorado (USA), in a uniquely beautiful setting. And do you know about the ultra marathon of the Tarahumara Indians in the Barrancas del Cobre? It’s held in Chihuahua, Mexico, and is one of the key events in trail running. It arose from a 16th-century tradition, when members of this tribe used to cross this region. Barefoot. A real accomplishment. And if we visit Norway? At Tromso we can submerge ourselves in the Arctic world during the Midnight Sun Marathon, in a unique setting, as is the Grand Raid de la Réunion, a French island in the Indian Ocean. And the list goes on.

These are 100 really dream locations. For example, who’s up for a run through those open-air museums offered by the marathons in Paris and Berlin? Or the most touristic on the planet, Rome, which begins and ends at the spectacular Coliseum. Or the most original one, in Athens, that legendary city where everything began around 490 BC. And in  Asia, did you know that there’s a race long the Great Wall of China?  And that the highest marathon in the world is in the Indian region of Ladakh, at between 3,000 and 5,400 metres in altitude? And what awaits us in Oceania? Among other idyllic but extremely demanding suggestions, the longest path in the world, the Te Araroa Trail (New Zealand) with more than 3,000 kilometres and no shortage of options, each better than the last.

And in Spain, Mathieu Le Maux and Nicolas Gardon recommend Barcelona and the Costa Brava. “The problem with Barcelona is not in knowing where you’re going to run but in knowing where you are not going to run. “The city satisfies every need,” they write. “All along the coast there are small fishing towns, trails close to the sea that lead to wild coves and hidden beaches.”

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