JUST WANT TO GET AWAY FROM IT ALL AND RUN SOMEWHERE?
The morning after I landed in Rome, I got up at 7 a.m., grabbed a taxi to the Baths of Caracalla stadium, and ran the Roma Urbs Mundi 10K. I doubt anyone could have told that I wasn’t a native runner because I was cheered on by Romans and visitors alike as I made my way past the coliseum.
A few minutes later, as I walked along the crooked cobblestone path, I looked up to see “the typewriter,” the memorial to Italy’s first monarch, Victor Emmanuel II. As we neared the last of Rome’s seven hills, another woman and I exchanged looks that said, “this is going to be hard.”
I finished the race, and then went back to the stadium stairs for a break. When a young runner’s son saw that I wasn’t hydrated, he tentatively handed me his cold container of frizzante. The surprise act of kindness made me feel valued and successful.
It only took one morning out of my weeklong holiday, but I got to see parts of Rome that tourists never see. Even though I don’t understand Italian, participating in a race put on by locals made me feel like a native. All I had to do was get up and put on my shoes.
The same can be said of other tourists and runners from all over the globe. In 2018, the New York City Marathon received applications from more than 87,000 people all over the globe. You can discover links to races held on every continent except Antarctica if you look on websites like active.com, RunnersWorld.com, and RunThePlanet.com.
Increasingly, tourists run in order to explore, and the same goes for runners. Here is a summary of five races across five countries, ordered from easiest to most challenging. By using one of these, you can experience your location as if you were a local for a while.
Harbour Day Run (3.1 miles; 5K), Hong Kong, China
Victoria Harbor is one of the busiest and most admired ports in the world, so last year Hong Kong held its first Harbour Day celebration to honor it. Three hundred to four hundred runners are anticipated to participate in the races this November at the Oriental Golf City driving practice and golf course. Located on the Kowloon Peninsula, where the former Kai Tak airport runway was, is where you’ll find Oriental Golf City.
The course overlooks the bay and the rugged mountains that surround Hong Kong Island. The course is reasonably easy and flat, and November is a great time to run it because that’s when the Hong Kong orchid tree (featured on the city’s flag and coins) and other flowers bloom.
Participants who sign up this year will receive free T-shirts, food, and other giveaways, and there will be music playing at the beginning and conclusion of the races to get everyone amped up. The fair also features competitions in golf, rugby, rowing, windsurfing, and sailing. Visit www.harbourday.hk for more details.
Adidas Run for the Parks (4 miles; 6.4 k), New York City, USA.
This is a family-friendly event, and if you choose to walk it, you’ll blend right in with the city’s many other pedestrians. The run is held in April, when Central Park in Manhattan is a pleasant 60–70 degrees Fahrenheit (15–21 degrees Celsius).
The route begins at the Bethesda Terrace, where you can see the famous Angel of the Waters fountain overlooking Central Park’s lake. From there, you can walk past John Lennon’s beloved Strawberry Fields, the Egyptian wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, down Cat Hill (where you can try to spot the predator cat sculpture), and back to the Bethesda Terrace.
The New York Road Runners Club, in conjunction with Niketown and the City Parks Foundation, hosts this annual competition and provides runners with a plethora of post-race swag. Enjoy the tunes and complimentary refreshments, including T-shirts, drinks, bagels, bananas, and apples.
Don’t overdo it on the bagel before the run, as there are plenty of excellent eateries within walking distance of the finish line in and around Columbus Circle. To learn more about the “Run for the Parks,”
Roma Urbs Mundi (6.2 miles; 10K), Rome, Italy
The race will take place on October 15 this year, making it an ideal opportunity to visit Italy. Highs average in the 60s (15° C), and the mountains, farmland, and seaside towns of central Italy are blanketed in vibrant fall foliage. Best of all, October marks the tail end of the peak travel month, when visitors won’t have to fight for hotel rooms or wait in lengthy lines at attractions like they would in the summer.
The event kicks off at the Baths of Caracalla arena, a popular gathering spot for Romans in the third century, and continues around the perimeter of the Imperial Forum, Campidoglio (designed by Michelangelo), the Colosseum, and the San Saba Church (where Antipope Constantine II was held prisoner in the eighth century).
The first half of the race takes place on relatively flat ground, but the second half is much more hilly. Participants are provided with water and snacks like croissants and yogurt after the run. You could also just do as the Romans do and use one of the city’s public water fountains.
Corrida de São Silvestre(9.3 miles; 15K), São Paulo, Brazil
In Brazil, even athletes know how to have a good time. Compete in the New Year’s Day marathon in Sao Paulo alongside 15,000 other enthusiastic runners. Many regular Brazilians and runners from other countries line up to join in the celebration, even though only the best professional athletes from places like Kenya, Korea, and Serbia and Montenegro are allowed to participate in this highly prestigious race.
The race, held annually on the day called after the saint who served as pope between the years 314 and 335, is one of the most important sporting events in Latin America. In order to promote his new sports newspaper, Brazilian media mogul Cásper Lbero arranged the first race in 1924.
Many participants still carry on the custom by racing while adorned with bells, capes, horns, and other accoutrements. Athletes, meanwhile, are met with cheers, hoots, hollers, and even fireworks from the audience. The track is challenging despite the relaxed atmosphere.
Summers can be very hot and muggy, and the terrain is hilly. However, if you’re up to the task, you’ll have a real Brazilian love affair on your hands.