Kent’s Blog – Running on Vacation

I wouldn't have seen this view in Tucson, AZ if I hadn't run to it!

I wouldn’t have seen this view in Tucson, AZ if I hadn’t run up to it!

I just got back from a nice warm reprieve from the frosty winter we’ve been having in Southern Ontario.  I took my kids down to Arizona where my parents spend the winter.  I knew the weather would be beautiful, there were lots of trails nearby, and I would have someone to watch the kids so of course I planned to run while I was there.  I was even lucky enough to find an ultra on the calendar within a 2 hour drive so I signed up for the 52km race thanks to Nick at Aravaipa Running.  The first morning I woke up, looked at the beautiful blue sky, saguaro cactus, and red rocky hills all around and couldn’t wait to hit the trails.  I planned a 10km route in the desert, got a bit mixed up and did 14 with some unexpected climbing, and came back refreshed from the previous day’s travelling and amazed at the spectacular scenery I encountered.  A couple days later, I woke up at 4:30 AM and drove up to the Coldwater Rumble 52km race and had a great morning on the trails outside of Phoenix.  This race wasn’t a training focus, or the focus of my trip but I knew it would be an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.  I didn’t go into it wanting win, or PB, or with any competitive expectations so that I wouldn’t end up stiff/sore/heat sick for the rest of the trip and just had a fun day.  I crossed the line and then it was back to my family :).  Vacation was still the priority, racing was the bonus!  It was great to get an early season race in (especially where I only had to wear a single layer of clothing!) and see what it was like to race in a desert.

Vacation Day 1 - enjoying sun, sand, and saguaros

Vacation Day 1 – enjoying sun, sand, and saguaros

Racing the Coldwater Rumble 52K. Photo from: Aravaipa Running

Racing the Coldwater Rumble 52K. Photo from: Aravaipa Running

Some people find it strange that I would want to run (physical exertion) while on “vacation”.  I love it – its a great way to find nature and experience unique landscapes that I don’t see at home.  When I took the kids to my hometown of Thunder Bay last summer, the first thing I did was round up my favourite running crew and head out to The Sleeping Giant for a long trail run.  When I was out to the west coast for my younger brother’s wedding two summers ago I planned out a bunch of trail runs (ie: Mt Benson and the Arrowsmith Trail.)  I think running is a great way to see new places and keep fit while I am away.  It also lets me justify sampling lots of local food and beer that is the other great bonus of being away!

Front side of the Sleeping Giant near Thunder Bay, ON

Front side of the Sleeping Giant near Thunder Bay, ON

On top of Mt. Benson near Nanaimo, BC a couple summers ago

On top of Mt. Benson near Nanaimo, BC a couple summers ago

How about you: Do you run/bike/anything else while “getting away from it all?”  Do you focus your vacations around running or running around vacations?  What has been your best running destination so far?

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