Runcations and destination races
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The “Runcation”: Why Active Travel is the New Travel

I’ve heard the term “runcation” thrown around recently, maybe more so than others since I personally enjoy the idea of running, and the idea of running on vacation, or taking active vacations!  I think combining two hobbies is the perfect marriage, which is why searching out destination races is my favorite form of active travel.  Arguably one of my top destination races I have been able to engage in a “runcation” in took place in Yellowstone National Park 


Active travel is the new travel with runcations and destination races


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How I Got Started with “Runcations”, Destination Races, and Active Vacations



I know the idea of running while on vacation seems counter-intuitive to many people, almost an assault on the idea of vacation where you are meant to relax! Growing up I hated running, and never could run more than a mile.  When I met my husband, who was already an avid runner, I felt this sense of jealousy when he would go for a run and I would find myself sitting on the couch waiting for him to get back. 


So I started running, primarily just so I could spend that extra time with him.  Turns out, somewhere over the span of my childhood and teenage years, I got better at running. However, it was not easy for me, and still is very slow going.  I enjoyed the activity of running in itself, but found that I needed a special kind of motivation to keep it going as a long term, consistent part of my lifestyle.  That is when I introduced myself to the idea of a “runcation” before I technically had even heard it mentioned elsewhere. I grew to love the idea of setting a goal, and rewarding and motivating myself with another one of my hobbies, traveling.  Thus the concept of active travel and active vacations became a staple.



My Active Vacations and Destination Races



My first major long distance race and active vacation was a half marathon in San Francisco where I got to run across the Golden Gate Bridge. I realized immediately I had all the motivation I needed to run consistently for months on end, if it meant I could look forward to getting to visit a new place.  Since San Francisco, I have engaged in many more destination races, including a few of my standout favorites like the Great Wall Half Marathon in China and the Polar Circle Half Marathon in Greenland!


One of my favorite places, and one of the most surreal “runcations” to date, was in Yellowstone National Park.  What was unique about my experience there, was that the running was the key factor that actually made it one of my favorites.  Without it, Yellowstone in itself would not be near the top of my list of favorite places. 


What I mean is that, had I just gone into the park as a regular tourist, I would have been greeted by what nearly everyone else I imagine is greeted with – the most stunning of backdrops in nature, surrounded by throngs of cars moving at a snail’s pace, and beautiful spots crammed with tourists.  Arguably so, no one can blame them for all wanting to be there.  But this is where the concept of the “runcation” really shines.  I was able to have a completely different experience with this beautiful national treasure.


Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park “runcation”

The Yellowstone Half Marathon “Runcation”


I actually stayed in the tiny town of Island Park, Idaho, on the morning of the race.  I got up while it was still dark and drove the thirty minutes to Yellowstone (which by the way, this drive passes through 3 states in thirty minutes-Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming!)  I had the road to myself, which I imagine is a rare thing as you get closer to Yellowstone Park.  I got to watch the sun come up on an empty, pine-lined highway, in one of the most beautiful places in the country. 



Yellowstone Half Marathon Highlights



The start of the race took place in a big empty field near the entrance to Yellowstone National Park.  I was not sure exactly how the course would take us, but assumed we would be running on the two main (drive-able) roads that loop through the park.  The first mile took us through the small main street of West Yellowstone, filled with shops and restaurants, but on mile two, there was a sudden departure off the pavement and into a pasture, and we would not see roads again for twelve miles! 


Those twelve miles wound through a combination of wide open fields, that led to trails only one foot length wide, that snaked through heavily wooded forests, that meandered along narrow paths, that ran along cliffs overlooking rivers, that expanded to open meadows populated with tall grasses and wildflowers.  I stopped only once, near mile marker nine, just to take in the moment of being able to stand in a part of this park that few other tourists get to see….and I stopped to take my one obligatory picture.  The sun, the silence, the rocks and tree roots and puddles of rainwater in the path, were all perfect companions to this view of Yellowstone.


Stopping on the course to take a picture
The view of the park along mile marker 9 on the Yellowstone “runcation”

Why You Need to Try a “Runcation”



So that is my shameless plug and impassioned plea to try a “runcation”!  Or any goal oriented, active travel, active vacations.  Go somewhere and climb a 14’er or a state high point, kayak a river, backpack through a National Park, cycle a century ride, run in three states in one day….I guarantee it will allow you to experience a place in a different, more intimate way than most people see it! And if you so choose to want to try a “runcation”, I encourage you to try it in Yellowstone.  The Yellowstone Half Marathon is a annual race put on by Vacation Races that takes place in June – it will not disappoint! 


One last note – if you decide to search out a destination race and take on a “runcation”, do your best to bring someone along with you! One of the most endearing and heartwarming feelings is approaching a finish line and seeing a familiar face, or faces, cheering you on!





Read More: if you want to take on a “runcation”, but don’t know where to start, check out my guides for training for your first half marathon, and three components to planning a perfect “runcation“!



****WAIT!!!  No matter what kind of active travel or active vacations you are aiming for, one of the most important parts of getting there is a well thought out and well organized training plan!  Check out my active travel shop for plenty of fitness trackers, training resources, and organization tools to help you stay focused, stay organized, and stay intentional in pursuing your active travel goals, whether you are a runner, hiker, biker, or anything in between!





Active travel is runcations and destination races


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One Comment

  1. Thanks for checking it out, let me know if you are able to put it to use! I’d be excited to hear about your experience!