One of my normal pre-travel planning routines involves searching the Internet for info on running routes at my destination. I do this for work trips a few hours away or vacations thousands of kilometres away. My recent vacation spot was one of the British Virgin Islands called Virgin Gorda which had nearly no running info to be found online. Looking at the island on Google Maps (see end of post), it’s total size of approximately 21 km2 gave me the impression that it wouldn’t offer much training potential. Looking at it from the window of our 10 seat Cessna as we approached the airport gave a totally different perspective – what VG lacks in distance, it definitely makes up for in elevation.
We stayed near the middle of the island at a beautiful spot called Villa Val Marc
which offered two running options – go up, then back down or down, and back up! We chose the up, then back down option a couple of times and got a good mix of long, mostly steady, but sometimes very steep, ascents and then descents back home. From where we stayed we had a good out and back that was 5km out with 500m of gain and then back down. The nice part is that at 5km we hit the high point of the road where an outdoor bar with an amazing view of the Island and ocean was our turnaround point. We even stopped for a refreshing, and well deserved mojito before heading back down.
The scenic and quiet roads are perfect for running
Another route that we didn’t get to do, but will next time, is a loop around Gorda Peak with a trip up the trail to the lookout. We climbed the peak on its own and the trail was a great singletrack climb that offered an amazing view from a lookout tower at the highest point on the island.
Late afternoon is the perfect time to run on Virgin Gorda with cooler temps and sunsets
We found the best time of day to run was after 4PM. It’s a little cooler and the sunset on the west side of the island is an amazing way to end a run. We weren’t willing to give up experiencing the amazing restaurants and bars on VG to get up at sunrise but that would be another good time to run. The traffic on the roads was nearly non-existent and drivers on the island were very willing to share space with us. The goats however… (they eventually move out of the way!)
Dodging “traffic” on the road