My top 10 runs from my whirl around the world (photo essay style)
It’s hard for me to get behind all of the obscure “holidays” taking over my news feed these days.
I’m sure there are people who can’t wait for Love Your Produce Manager Day (April 2), or who recently went all out for Nylon Stockings Day (May 15)—but for the most part, they seem to serve as justifications for posting yet another cute animal shot or indulging in an overpriced but highly ‘Grammable dessert.
Global Running Day (June 7) is an exception.
Having essentially celebrated Global Running Year a few years back, this is a holiday I wholeheartedly support. While today isn’t nearly as exciting as my 2013 edition, when I was 11 months into a year-long exploration of running cultures around the world, it’s a good excuse to stir up some nostalgia and reminisce about my all-time favorite runs—in between a hard track session and a recovery run, of course!
Here is my ongoing, chronological list of favorite runs around the world.
- Bushy Park in Teddington, England: For how big and bustling it is, the Greater London area has an amazing amount of green space and running trails buried within. My favorite was Bushy Park, a short jog from the flat I rented, home to herds of massive deer, and the training grounds of local stars as well as international elites who visit in the summertime.
- Dirt roads in Kilmihil, Ireland: My runs in County Clare, Ireland were among the most special of my whole trip. Not only were the dirt roads empty and pastures as green as AstroTurf, but my maternal ancestors laid their roots there many generations ago and I felt a deep connection to the land as a result.
- Hilly countryside in Bern, Switzerland: In Bern, I linked up with a small group of elite runners (including one former NCAA steeplechaser) for an epic uphill tempo. We wound our way up a long and winding incline, passing fields of wildflowers, towering windmills, and countryside cottages I dream about to this day.
- Mount Entoto in Sululta, Ethiopia: If I had to pick my very favorite place to run in the world, Mount Entoto is it. Its rugged terrain and high altitude (3,000 meters at the peak) attract both aspiring youngsters and legends like Haile Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele, and the Dibaba sisters, who can be found weaving up and down the mountain in the early mornings.
- Trails in Falls Creek, Australia: This scenic ski town about four hours outside of Melbourne has been hosting Aussie distance runners for half a century. For one week after Christmas, I crashed with the Melbourne University Athletics Club and shared the trails with a few hundred runners, ranging from recreational to Olympic-caliber.
- Singletracks in Auckland, New Zealand: New Zealand’s nature game is on another level. I loved taking off on runs from my temporary home in Auckland, and covering stretches of ground that felt like beaches, rainforests, swamps, and farmland—in as little as an hour, and usually not on purpose.
- Yoyogi Park in Tokyo, Japan: It’s hard to find a nice, soft-surfaced place to run in Tokyo if you don’t know where to look. One of my hosts introduced me to Yoyogi Park—one of a few green expanses in the entire city—and it quickly became my go-to spot. It’s only about two miles around the perimeter, but it offers some amazing people-watching as well as guaranteed run-ins with some of the professional (corporate-sponsored) teams that live nearby.
- Tancheon River in Seoul, South Korea: I spent just a week in Seoul, but quickly fell in love with the wide, smooth running paths that flank both sides of the Tancheon River (a tributary of the Han River). Perfect for tempo runs, it also offered prime viewing of some very interesting exercise classes that filled certain pockets each morning.
- Old military trails in Stockholm, Sweden: One of my host families lived at the edge of an old military base on the outskirts of Stockholm, Sweden, and basically had a well-groomed and elaborate trail network for a front yard. Some of my most memorable runs of the year were on those rolling paths with my older brother Matt, who visited me for ten days in Scandinavia and exponentially increased his fitness during that time.
- Forest paths in Turku, Finland: I’m not sure what I liked more: Finnish forest runs, or the sauna sessions that usually followed. Either way, the woodsy trails in Turku, Finland (home of the great Paavo Nurmi) were some of the most pleasant I’ve ever run on. I’m not sure where he actually trained, but I like to think I stepped on at least one of Nurmi’s 120-year-old footprints during my two weeks there.
And then prepare yourself for Guinea Pig Appreciation Day—less than a month to go!