Destination Race Running
When I first started running seriously approximately 3 years ago, I remember thinking how absurd it was whenever a runner told me they were travelling for a race. I couldn't fathom why anyone would find such a nonsensical excuse for travel! Last month, I ran my first real destination race at the Victoria Marathon - 8K category. Taking the ferry over to Victoria from Vancouver a few times in the past couple of years, I know pretty much all the best tourist attractions, some of the best restaurants and have a fair amount of knowledge about the areas and cities surrounding Victoria. Now completely convinced that destination races are the absolute best, I'd like to convince you as well:
1) You get a beautiful bird's eye view of what the city is all about
A city's race route is often carefully handcrafted to showcase its best! A lot of thought goes into mapping it and the race route often covers distinct parts of the city. For instance, the BMO Vancouver Marathon route covers three of Vancouver's iconic neighbourhoods-- Mount Pleasant, Yaletown and Coal Harbour, as well as arguably our city's most scenic places, the Seawall and Stanley Park. Similarly, many marathon routes around the world cover areas you wouldn't want to miss if you were simply vacationing or visiting for the weekend.
Fun fact: if you only have 24 hours in a city - run the last 5-10K portion of the annual marathon route. It's usually the most exciting part of the race and is a quick way to understand the landscape!
2) You learn more about the people in the city
The running community - both spectators and runners alike - in a city tells you a lot about the people you will meet as you travel around. There is nothing like getting out for a race at 7am and meet the most inspiring of people. You begin to feel grateful and really understand how supportive the running community is all over the world. American Marathon runner, Kathrine Switzer, once said "If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon" (or even better, run one!) and I can't agree more. Sure, you may be wondering why you have to travel for one when you could run a marathon in your own city. But here's the thing, running in a foreign city where you do not know anyone is an amazing and unforgettable self-discovery experience. When you're in a new city, your senses are automatically heightened so you're more aware of everything going around you making it all the more spectacular and rewarding.
3) Just because
You don't really need a reason to run a destination race. It's the perfect excuse to plan your vacation or where you would like to visit next! Almost every city has their own marathon race series throughout the year. Distance Running is an awesome resource to check out all the races taking place around the world and gives you a brilliant introduction to many interesting ones taking place. Once you open it, I doubt you'll be able to stop yourself from planning your runcations. Don't tell me I didn't warn you... ;)
Have you taken part in a destination race? Leave us a comment - we'd love to learn more about your experience!