Run Tourism – Florida

12 months ago I took my running kit away on holiday for the first time to Spain, since then there has been no question, have kit, will travel, run tourism is a part of my holidays that is here to stay.

This time we were on our way to America, and more specifically Florida, to tread the well worn path of theme parks, water parks and buffet restaurants. I knew that running whilst away would not be easy given the schedule that we had but I was determined to get out and keep my running going.

We stayed in a villa on a complex around 20 minutes from Disney and on the second morning there I headed out for the first time around the complex and surrounding streets. It was early when I set off but even at 6.45am it was hot and added to that it was humid. I ran 5k and by the end of it I was drenched, I may as well have got in the pool I was that wet from the sweat.

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I took the following morning off and then embarked on a 7 day run streak, all setting off before 7am. I was awake at that time anyway and decided that I may as well make the most of the time. I didn’t venture too far, my furthest run was 10k but I enjoyed seeing a bit more of the area where we were staying. Getting up early provided some great views and I also ventured slightly off road onto the sandy trails in the area.

After another day off came one of the highlights of my holiday, yes I enjoyed the fireworks at Magic Kingdom and meeting Chewbacca but I was most looking forward to the Sommer Sports Candy Land 5k race in Clermont. I entered both myself and my mother in law. Given the heat the race started at 7.15am and so we were up and out by 5.50am to make sure we made the 40 minute drive with no problems and got there in time to collect our race packets. The race was the first in a series of four throughout the summer and there was also a triathlon taking part.

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The field was very mixed and the lakeside setting provided some lovely scenery to run in. I started about a quarter of the way back in the pack but soon made my way forward through the field. Having set off relatively quickly the heat took its toll on me in the latter stages of the race but I still finished in a respectable 23:25 which placed me 19th out of over 500 runners.

The atmosphere created by supporters and the race host was really enjoyable and the candy theme was a nice touch which gave the event a unique feel. The medal was a whopper too. I even managed to chat to a fellow UK runner at the sweet tent as we tried to decide between all the goodies on offer.

If you are going away I can fully recommend putting out a request on Twitter which is how I found this race and having an experience of running a race overseas, I know that Disney themselves put on various events but sadly none fell during our time there.

Overall I found running in the States to be fantastic, the humidity was something I had never experienced before and being able to take part in a race was the icing on the typically huge slice of cake. If you are away anywhere over the summer, take your kit, get out and enjoy running somewhere new.

 

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Run Tourism – Holland

Earlier in the year I ventured into the world of run tourism for the first time on a trip to Spain, I made sure to ask my wife if she minded me taking my kit and I was given the green light so off I went exploring around Albir, Althea and Benidorm.

IMG_20170818_151111Last week we went to the Duinrell holiday park in Wassenaar, Holland, when I say “we”, this wasn’t your average family holiday, this was 10 adults and 14 kids aged 3-13. I didn’t need to ask if I could take my kit this time, being in the middle of full on marathon training at the moment Catherine knew it was coming and that I’d be disappearing a couple of times to explore and get some miles in my legs.

Before travelling I put out a request on Twitter for any recommendations and the very kind Heart Runner Girl suggested a couple of possible runs for me based on her local knowledge. I managed three runs while I was there, all on different routes and all had their own particular features.

After the overnight ferry from Hull to Rotterdam we arrived at Duinrell on the Saturday, the first day was spent acclimatising and finding our way around the park and what it had to offer. I was already itching to get out though and so first thing on Sunday morning I was up and heading for the beach. It was a beautiful morning and after running down a few tree lined avenues the road turned slightly and the dunes that dominate this area of coastline began.

What I immediately noticed too was how everyone appeared to be catered for. There was the road, then a separate cycle path, a separate pavement and also a sand covered bridleway. Part way down to the beach the route forked and the road went off to the right whilst the other paths veered off left. I’m always cautious crossing roads abroad so the knowledge that I was on my own path helped me to relax and enjoy my run. After around 5k the path and road converged again at the main beach car park and then I followed the short path down to the beach itself, having taken a few photos I made the return trip and arrived back just as the rest of the family were waking up. It was a very straight forward run and clearly a popular one as I passed over 20 other runners in the 45 minutes of so that I was out. Without fail, everyone acknowledged me with a nod, a smile, a wave or said good morning (at least that’s what I think they were saying, my Dutch isn’t that great!). The knowledge gained during the run came in handy the next day when we decided on a trip to the beach. There was no way I was going to try and walk down to the beach with the kids given the distance but I knew we could park easily and having seen the bars and snack outlets I also knew that we’d be well catered for.

My second run was very much in the “make it up as you go along” category. This time I headed away from the beach and into the centre of Wassenaar, I came across a beautiful old windmill as I wended my way through the streets and then I discovered the various dykes and waterways that criss-crossed the town so I decided to follow them for a while and see where I ended up. The run was so tranquil, despite it being late afternoon and it was great to take in something so quintessentially Dutch. I did end up at a dyke that I couldn’t cross and so had to do a U-turn but that’s part of the adventure of exploring in this way. Eventually I ended up back at Duinrell after just over 10k and in time to fire up the BBQ for some well earned burgers, bratwurst and beer.

The third and final run was another early morning start this time in the direction of Den Haag. I followed the cycle path signs which indicated 10k to the city which is the official seat of Dutch government, home to the Netherlands’ monarch, parliament, ​and supreme court. The cycle path and pavement are away from the main roads and there were some gorgeous views of mist lingering across the fields as the sun came up. The cycle path signs made this a very easy route to follow and nearing the outskirts of Den Haag the signs changed to point you in the direction of various local landmarks. I decided to follow signs for the World Forum and this route took my through a beautiful park. I’d deliberately not checked my Garmin during my run but I felt like I maintained a decent pace assisted in no small part by the flat landscape which was in stark contrast to many of my normal routes. Just after 11 miles I checked my time and it looked like I could be on for an unofficial half marathon PB if I kept the pace up (I say unofficial as to me official PBs are set during races, I know people have different opinions on this but that’s my view). I felt good at this point and so I worked hard to keep going. My total distance for the run was 14.1 miles but when I saved the run I got that lovely “new record” message saying my new half marathon best time was 1:42.13, my official best time set at the Leeds Half Marathon earlier in the year is 1:44.55, let’s just say the two landscapes are rather different and I’m hoping that the flat lands around York can bring me an equally speedy time in a couple of weeks on my marathon debut.

All in all this was another great run tourism experience, I loved finding my way around a new place and taking in some of the local sights, next time you are away somewhere new why not take your kit and give it a try, don’t forget to put your feet up too though!

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