THE GUIDEBOOKS want you to believe there’s no better way to explore your holiday destination than in your running shoes.
The moment your plane touches down, they imply, you’ll head straight out for the run of a lifetime. There’ll be lush forests, powdery beaches, quaint villages, bustling markets and grand architecture. Friendly locals and cute, fluffy animals. Blue skies, sunshine and rainbows.
To top it off, a placid lake for cooling off post-run, followed by brunch at an idyllic coffee shop that materialises out of thin air for your convenience.
But if my experience is anything to go by, the reality of running abroad is very different...
I left my hotel wearing one of those T-shirts, emblazoned with the slogan ‘I heart [insert place name here]’, typically worn by tourists when they’re trying to blend in with the locals. In my hand was a pocket travel guide; well-thumbed, a corner of one page painstakingly folded. The page in question had a map on it that promised ‘a glorious coastal meander that passes historic landmarks’.
Given the stifling humidity and my proximity to the equator, I should have worn sunscreen; but I’d left that behind in my room, which happened to be on the 15th floor of the hotel.
I set off on my run. But it wasn’t long before I took a wrong turn and ended up in a dodgy area: a derelict old h