Running Tours

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A recent issue of Canadian Running Magazine featured an article about a trend that seemed tailor-made for me, the traveling marathoner. Apparently there are companies around the world that provide running tour guides for visitors to an area who want to go for a run and see the sights at the same time. The companies provide a well-trained guide runner who takes you for a spin around the city. As the website for City Running Tours says, the concept is "Ideal for the business traveler who is tired of running on the hotel treadmill, the marathon runner who is training for a race and is looking to continue or spice up their regular routine, or the recreational runner who wants to explore new and interesting routes."

I really like this idea. Of course the company that interested me the most when I read the article is the one that operates in a city I'm planning to visit - Sight Jogging in Rome. I checked out their website, and they seem to mostly employ foreign running guides, with just a couple of Italians. Still, it seemed like this would be a really fun way to see some of the city, and to get to know some good places to run. Since I'll be deep into training for the Athens Marathon during the time I'm in Italy, I was keen. Then I looked at the prices:

Yikes! 84€ an hour! At current exchange rates that's $103.71 CDN. That's more than half of my daily budget for everything in Italy - accommodations, food, sightseeing - everything. As much as I'd love to go for a run around the Coliseum with Javier or Paolo or Jorge, I think it might be way more cost effective to try and connect with a local runners through a local store or online, and see if they offer group runs. Obviously, these running tours are targeted at the more well-heeled traveler. The owner of Off'N Running says their tours "cater to business travellers who needed to get a run in but didn't want to be stuck on a treadmill." And Mike, of Mike's SightRunning in Berlin admits that he has "assigned priority to cooperations with Berlin's five-star hotels". Five-star hotels. Harumph.

However, for those of you in the hostel-challenged category, here are links to the different tour companies mentioned in the Canadian Running article, along with the prices for their basic services. (Naturally, the one company I'm interested is the most expensive.)

Quebec Jogging Tours (Quebec City)
- Three fixed routes available, $30 for the 6km tour, $60 for 9km, $68 for 11km

City Running Tours (New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Austin, Charleston, San Diego)
- $60.00 for the first 6 miles, $6.00 for each mile thereafter

Off'N Running (Los Angeles)
- Tours up to 4.5 miles, $60 per person, per tour

SightRunning (Berlin)
- 60€/hour for one person, as low as 20 €/hour for 4 runners together

Sight Jogging (Rome)
- 70€/hour for one person, as "low" as 60€/hour for 4 runners together

Running tours may not be for the budget traveler, at least not every day. But it still sounds like a great synthesis of two of my top activities: seeing and running. Heck, that's 40% of the whole plan!


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