16 Nov

Tour De Force

Memphis running tourWhether participating in races or simply looking to get some exercise, many of us try to incorporate running into our holidays. What better way to explore your new surroundings than by putting on your running shoes and pounding the unfamiliar pavements? In reality, however, it can be stressful experience.

Finding your bearings in an unknown city can prove troublesome and the constant worry of getting lost is also distracting. Getting lost in your thoughts is fine, on a busy Italian intersection less so. That’s where running tours come in. Much in the same way you would take a walking tour, running tours allow you to see the city’s sights under the guidance of a local. The concept has proved incredibly popular with every major city in the world now having at least one tour. From Singapore and Sarajevo to Las Vegas and Lisbon, anywhere that’s worth visiting is also worth running in.

Edinburgh Run Tours
Ultrarunner and runABC contributor Lucja Leonard started her own tour in Edinburgh four years ago. She explains the motivation behind her decision: “When I moved to Edinburgh I thought, ‘why isn’t anyone else doing this here?’ You can see the main sites in about four miles but there’s also so much to see off the beaten track.

“It’s something a lot of people think when on holiday ‘I need to knock out x amount of miles’ but invariably you end up seeing the non-beautiful part of a city or find yourself running into a dead-end. With a local’s advice you’ll get much more from your running. It’s also a great way to pick up tips about the place in terms of food and drink. I should be on commission from my favourite bars and restaurants, the number of times I recommend them!”

Running in Memphis
Part of Lucja’s inspiration was a tour she had taken in Memphis, Tennessee. We spoke to tour owner John Lintner about his Memphis Running Tours. He revealed that starting the tour was a joint decision by him and his wife: “Crissy and I had read about running tours and I thought, ‘Man, that’s for me’. We devised a business plan and then launched the tours.”

Always Be Prepared?
Undertaking such an endeavour likely involves a considerable amount of preparation, one would imagine. Lucja and John, though, took two different approaches to setting up their respective tours.

John explains: “I did a ton of research. I ran around the city 100 times using index cards that were in wristbands. I would talk about the points of interest as if someone was there with me.”

Lucja, however, was more laidback: “Since I run six out of seven days of the week and had been doing so for a year prior to the running tours, I already had a pretty solid knowledge of the city. It’s definitely wise to have a good knowledge of the city and any places that work for toilet stops or places you can get emergency water.”

Secret of my Success
John has a few ideas on why the running tours concept has proved so popular: “A lot of people are after something different. They want more than just going for a run from their hotel. They know that, taking a running tour, they’ll be able to learn from a local’s perspective and their guide can tell them good spots that they won’t necessarily know about it.”

Describing running tours as a trend is perhaps doing an injustice to the movement, which shows no sign of subsiding. As John points out: “I think it’s reached the point where it’s no longer a trend. Running tours are here to stay!”

Go Run Tours
An excellent resource for those interested in taking a running tour is Go Run Tours. Though not exhaustive, the list includes tours from a wide range of locations, spanning six continents. Most tours offer tailored options so you can run at your own pace, at a distance you are comfortable with, in a group or solo.