Maybe you have run all your bucket list races in the US, you have been looking for a reason to dust off your passport, or you have an international business trip coming up– whatever your reason, consider combining your passion for running with travel and take a racecation abroad. In this series, I will talk about my personal experience running my first international race and share some tips on how to make the most of your time away.
Let’s get into it:
Where should I run?
Lucky for you, there are races of various distances on every continent (even Antarctica!) and in most countries around the globe, so you are sure to find something that fits your interests and budget. I didn’t originally have any pressing desire to take a race-cation, but when perusing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series race calendar last summer in search of a Spring 2015 marathon, I noticed a few European dates that piqued my curiosity. While studying Spanish in high school and earning a B.A. in Spanish in college, I became enthralled with the culture of the Iberian peninsula and longed to visit Spain’s capital city and experience the art, architecture, people, and food I had read about for so long. I knew I had to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Madrid Marathon.
What distance should I run?
Well, that all depends on your goals and your training schedule. Many cities offer festival-like events with multiple distances, so you may be able to choose between a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or marathon, often with relay options as well. I knew I wanted to tackle a spring marathon so I committed myself to that distance and trained accordingly, keeping in mind that I could drop down to the half marathon or 10k if my training didn’t go as planned.
Who’s coming with me?
You always have the option of venturing out by yourself, but I think sharing the experience makes it more memorable and meaningful. My oldest friend came along with me, but your travel posse could include family, friends, running buddies, or anyone else who’s up for the trip. If you are traveling with non-runners, see if they would be willing to support you during the race– it is always comforting to see a familiar face along the course!
How long should I stay?
I recommend thinking about how long it will take to travel to your destination and how many time zones you will be crossing to get there. Madrid is six hours ahead of the east coast of the US so I knew I would need a few days to acclimate to the difference. I chose an overnight flight that arrived mid-morning three days before the race. Ear plugs, an eye mask, and ZzzQuil were in my carry-on so I could sleep on the plane. And, to get myself on Madrid time before race day, I made sure to tire myself out with a full schedule of sightseeing which helped make me hop in bed at a normal hour. We left Madrid the day after the race to visit three cities in southern Spain, returning home after a 10-day trip filled with many miles and memories.
All in all, taking a racecation is about more than racking up the frequent flier miles and checking off another country on the map. It is about the training, the planning, and the cultural journey you’ll experience while chasing after your next medal. Bon voyage!
Part 2 of 3: Hills, HOKAs, and Heavy Rain: My Experience at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Madrid Marathon
Part 3 of 3: Travel Talk: Tips and Tricks for a Great Race-cation
By Erica Gminski, Pacers Fairfax