Feeling cooped up? Only have time for a quick weekend trip? Or maybe you’re simply looking for a reason to shape up and get away.
If this sounds like you, it’s time to lace up those sneaks, pick a race, and book your hotel nearest the start line of your choice. That’s right, a race – be it 5K, 10K, or a half or full marathon – is your ticket to your next trip. With summer winding down and fall weather approaching, what better time than now to plan a quick, active getaway? And what better way to get a glimpse of a new city than to run through its most iconic areas?
Picking a Race
Whether the race determines your destination or your destination determines the race, let the Internet be your guide. The Active Network allows you to search for races by city, type (trail, running, cycling, etc.), and, in many cases, you can register directly through the site.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon series is one of the best for newbie runners and veteran marathoners alike and is geared toward the “destination athlete.” With more than 500,000 runners in 26 North American cities each year, the Rock ‘n’ Roll races comprise the world’s largest running series. The routes are intentionally snaked through the major host cities’ most notable sites and monuments. For instance, the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco marathon and half marathon courses have you running across the Golden Gate Bridge. And the bands and excitement along the course will keep you pumped up ‘til you reach the finish line.
If you’re looking for something a bit more low-key, City Running Tours offers personalized and group guided runs (5K to 10K) through major cities, including Seattle, Austin, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and more. Unlike a typical race, these are meant to be jogs at a conversational pace, and cost ranges from $25 to $40 per person, depending on distance and whether you’re doing a regular run or a “beer run” (where your leisurely jog ends at a bar).
Whether your preferred mode of transportation is plane, train, or automobile, getting there is up to you.
The bus is a great option if you don’t feel like paying a ton of money or driving yourself. It’s especially convenient for those of us in the Northeast, where major cities and different states are a bit closer together. Mega Bus offers comfortable, affordable bus rides with complimentary WiFi and outlets to keep you connected and powered up while you’re on your way. While on the road, whip out your Kindle and read “Born to Run” for some pre-race inspiration.
If you’re no stranger to a good road trip, grab a few friends, download some new music, buckle up, and be on your merry way. And if you’re looking to fly, Tuesday afternoon is the best time to purchase airfare – a longstanding theory that actually seems to be true (even The Wall Street Journal says so). Sites such as Travelocity offer last-minute deals, too, and sometimes hotel accommodations are included.
Finding a Place
The essential ingredient in “race travel” is picking a hotel within walking distance of the start line. These races typically start as early as 6 a.m., so you’ll be awake at an ungodly hour and will want your commute to the start line to be as easy and stress-free as possible. With the Rock ‘n’ Roll series, you can book your stay at a nearby select hotel partner for a discounted price directly through the site. If you’re booking separately, be sure to Google-map the start line location and find somewhere as close as possible.
If you’re a regular runner, you probably know what you’re doing, so get moving and shape up for your next trip. And if you need a guide or a little extra motivation, there are plenty of training programs – free or for fee – both online and probably in your neighborhood. Download Women’s Health Magazine’s training guide, 10 Weeks to a Half-marathon, or ask any avid runner you know for local running groups or tips.
Originally published on the former Sweetlemonmag.com.