In the same way your local pub football team dreams of playing at Wembley or the ladies at the village tennis club would jump at the chance of playing at Wimbledon us runners have iconic places that we would run. There’s the big ones like London and New York and then there’s the places that just appeal and we run just because they are there.
I recently went to America and took my running kit as usual. First stop San Francisco provided me with my first challenge. Everybody has seen the Golden Gate Bridge on the TV and when I found out there was a footpath the length of it I knew I wanted to run over it. So kit on and family in tow we grabbed a cab to the visitor centre. We walked up to the start of the path, I set my watch and was off. It was crowded literally hundreds of people taking selfies and just wandering along. Surprisingly there were also dozens of other runners all doing the same as me, The stretch over water is about 1.3 miles so I ran from the south to the north and back again. A total of just under 3 miles.
My next choice of run could not be more different. A place very isolated, a place where you are advised to register if you leave the safety of the hotel, a place that holds the record for the highest ever temperature any where on earth. Average rainfall is less than 2″ a year. The thermometer often rises above 120f but on the day of my visit it was a”cool” 80 degrees at 9.00 AM. Located at almost 300ft below sea level very little grows, water holes and lakes are just salt flats. The place I chose for my second run was in the desert, in fact it was in Death Valley.
We stayed in a town called Furnace Creek, with a population made up of 16 Native Americans and 8 others. It really is remote but because of a spring it has a golf course, a petrol station and a visitor centre.
At home running at 80 degrees does not pose a real problem, however I heeded the advice of the locals in the hotel that the very warm wind dries you as quick as you sweat and that you quickly become dehydrated. I set off ensuring someone knew where I was going and just ran along the road for half a mile, turned around and ran back. It didn’t seem too hot and I felt I had done the mile with ease. In fact I felt a bit of a slacker really when you consider every July a few select runners compete in the 135 mile Badwater Ultra that starts nearby. Upon reflection as I sit in my “I ran Death Valley” T-shirt I am pleased with my run, yes I only ran the mile and it wasn’t as difficult as I expected. I could have gone further, but more importantly I didn’t cause a major incident by biting off more that I can chew.