If packing for a trip means throwing a pair of running shoes and some clean underwear in a suitcase, meet sightrunning: destination sightseeing via group runs. Athletes with an indie streak can build their own routes around a city’s attractions, but a growing number are joining preplanned outings that allow them to keep their daily mileage while taking in the sights.
Go! Running Tours is an umbrella organization for 40 providers in 37 international cities spanning from the U.S. to Australia and Africa. A popular tour in Brussels, Belgium, for instance, guides runners through the city’s historic center, past the Grand and Royal palaces and Manneken Pis. Three local athletes created the Brussels circuit, and the majority of these packages develop out of such on-the-ground test-runs.
Because locals guide the tours, runners have the opportunity to chat with a resident who can share anecdotes about attractions, as well as personal recommendations about where to amble, drink, and dine in the city at large. “All too often, travelers don’t get any contact with the people who live in the place they’re visiting. A sightrunning tour is the perfect opportunity to get to know some locals and dig under the surface of a city,” says Lena Andersson, cofounder of Go! Running Tours.
Because scheduled outings usually include one to five attendees, these experiences have the flexibility to accommodate a particular group’s interests and running pace. Tour distances usually range from 3K to 10K.
City Running Tours operates events in a variety of U.S. cities, including Austin, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Local managers create routes based on each locale’s distinct culture and history. “We want our clients to experience the city at street level, so we give them the chance to run the same routes, roads, and trails we use every day,” says Michael Gazaleh, the outfit’s president and CEO. “Our team is made up of runners with a great passion for the place they call home.”
City Running Tours customizes its outings to incorporate each client’s preferences for distance, pace, and destinations—perfect for someone training for a race. It has a weekly schedule of group runs that range between three and six miles and go at a conversational pace to encourage social interaction.