As you’re reading this, I’m in Cinque Terre, hiking between scenic coastal towns and blissfully ignoring reality. Now that you’re all envious and whatnot, I’ll distract you with some of my best vacation runs. I am a fan of running in new places, partly to keep active and partly for the benefits of novel (and therefore distracting) scenery. Over the years, I’ve amassed a few personal faves in Canada and the US. Enjoy, and maybe even check them out one day!
- High Park (Toronto): My brother moved to Toronto, which makes me sad for many reasons, including that I don’t love Toronto. Thankfully, he at least lives near a delightful urban park space with seemingly endless running options. Perks of this running here include shade (necessary in Toronto spring/summers); a zoo; a mix of dirt and concrete paths (saving your knees); and the constant threat of poison oak (seriously, there are signs about it everywhere). Last time I visited, I ran a killer 12 km double-loop and even left my brother in the dust. That’s a win.
- Charles River and Harvard Campus (Cambridge): Yes, I went to Harvard. No, not for a full degree. All my transcripts (and pocketbook) would allow for was a four-day workshop. Still, I can say I went to Harvard with my integrity intact. On to the running…The Charles River provides a shockingly cliche backdrop for your run, with elitist rowing teams making their way up and down the river in early morning light. There’s good options for short and long runs and the opportunity to cross back and forth across several short bridges spanning the river. You can wrap your run with a tour de force loop around the Harvard Campus, and potentially even see a wild turkey like I did! Interesting fact: I saw few student-aged runners, leading me to believe the type-A overachievers that I assume all Harvard students to be are only type-A overachievers with respect to academics…and rowing.
- River Walk & Lake Shore (Chicago): I am not generally an architecture freak, but the buildings along Chicago’s riverwalk make for some stunning architectural contrast to the serene waters running through the downtown core. You can run for miles on these paths, and connect to the lakeshore. If you haven’t seen Lake Michigan’s stunning blue waters, you will probably be shocked and amazed that any great lake can actually look that good. It was humid as hell both times I’ve been in Chicago and, really, the scenery was all that kept me going.
- Galiano Island Ecological Reserve (Galiano Island): I had one of my first recovery runs on Galiano Island. It could have been just the sheer joy of being able to run again, but I think that would dismiss the scenery I encountered along Porlier Pass Road and towards the ecological reserve. Think coastal views and peaceful (i.e. people-free) forest roads. In 8 km I saw zero runners, only a handful of cars, and no other signs of human existence. Happy run.
- Anywhere in NYC: I’ve been to NYC many, many times and I always run there. I’ve even taken the subway from Astoria all the way to Central Park just to go for a run (and then subjected subway riders to a heinously sweaty version of me on the ride back). Whether it’s an urban run or in the Park, I love running in this town. The people watching, in particular, is on point, and no matter what distance you’re trying to fit in, there’s a route to match that distance. In short, you must run here.
There you have it. I’m sure I’ll return in a couple weeks with a whole new list of favourite vacation runs to inspire jealousy…