Thursday, December 20, 2007

Future Trips

I was recently was asked whether I was interested in planning any trips for 2008. I thought this would be a good use of the blog to generate a discussion. First off, because of work commitments, I will not be able to plan a ski trip this year. I will get a few days of skiing in on a future business trip to Colorado a few weeks after the Houston Marathon. That is always one of my most enjoyable trips, so I am sorry not to be able to ski with my fellow runners.

Here are some other possibilities for road trips this coming year.

1) Another Relay? The Reno-to-Tahoe relay was one of the highlights of the year. While it was a coordination challenge, everything worked out well and several of us enjoyed a few extra days in beautiful Lake Tahoe. Anyone interested in doing another relay? Here are some possibilities:

  • Wild West Relay ( 195 miles from Fort Collins to Steamboat Springs, CO scheduled for Aug. 1-2, 2008. A few days in Steamboat Springs afterward would be very refreshing coming from Houston in the summer.

  • Green Mountain Relay ( 200 miles from Jefferson to Bennington, VT scheduled for June 21-22, 2008. Run during the summer solstice. Vermont is a beautiful state.

  • Reach the Beach Relay ( 200 miles from Franconia to Hampton Beach, NH scheduled September 12-13, 2008. Should see a touch of fall in New England.

This is a sampling of potential relays. I would be curious in your feedback.

2) Another International Marathon? We've had a trip in each of the last two years going to Greece in 2006 and Dublin this past October. Should we plan a trip for 2008 or wait until 2009? I will toss around a few suggestions:
  • Exotic Location- We have been to many marathons in Europe including Spain, Italy, Greece, Ireland and Austria. It is time to go somewhere more exotic? Here are some suggestions for an exotic marathon:
  1. Greenland- There are two marathons scheduled for Greenland describing running in along water with icebergs floating (at least for now) and across beautiful terrain.
  2. Mongolia- It doesn't get more exotic and they have a marathon and ultra in July through a national park. You will stay in gers (felt tents) while in the region, but reviews of the race and the trip are extremely positive.
Japan- Several marathons and clean, safe and interesting location

Mt. Kilimanjaro- June 22, at the home base of world class long distance runners, this is a four loop course and an opportunity to add a safari or a climb of the highest peak in Africa.
  1. Traditional Location- probably not my preference, but I found one scenario that could be fun and that is the Berlin Marathon Sept. 30. There are couple of reasons this could be compelling:
  1. Good possibility you will run the marathon at the same time a world record is approached or broken. This is a fast course on which the world record has been set on a couple of occasions, the most recent being last September
  2. The marathon is right in the middle of Octoberfest which ends October 5th in 2008. Imagine running the marathon and spending the following week touring Germany during Octoberfest.

So, now it is up to you to comment. I would like to gauge the interest level of any of these events.



  1. Hi Bob,
    Thanks for taking the lead in this. I would be particularly interested in the Wild West Relay, and any of the mentioned marathons-especially Greenland, Madagascar, Kilamanjaro, or Berlin.


  2. Without an invitation to Ski this year, I wish BCRR had a ski trip planned.

  3. Hey there Bob! Thanks for taking the time to do some research on these races. It is very much appreciated.

    All of the relays sound fun to me.

    Of the marathons, in order of preference... Madagascar, Mt. Klamanjaro, Berlin, then Greenland (that sounds really cold - Brrrr).

  4. HI Bob,
    We are interested in a 2009 international marathon. Mongolia or Kilimanjaro are our first choices. The Green Mountain Relay is also our first choice.


  5. I appreciate the comments. Let's keep them coming over the next few weeks. I am personally intrigued by Greenland. I encourage you to read the comments in this link.

    By the way, it snowed ten inches in Topeka here on Saturday, so it was good that I waited to complete the JP LOOOONNNNGGGGG Run. It is now sunny and 40°!

    With that in mind, read this. Greenland would not be that bad. Imagine this after three months of Houston's brutal summers!!

    I could not figure out how to insert a hyperlink in the comments section:

    Nuuk Marathon

    City marathon in the Arctic
    marathon is a challenge for most people, but the Nuuk Marathon is a particular challenge because of the demanding route with lots of inclines. The fact that the marathon is run in August means that it is still summer in Greenland’s capital. However, as a runner you should be prepared for wind, rain and single-figure temperatures that can make the event particularly challenging. Remember, therefore, that you should expect to post a finishing time that is at least 15 per cent slower in relation to other city marathons run on asphalt.

    The Nuuk Marathon’s route is 21,097.5 metres (13 miles 192.5 yards) and thus two circuits have to be completed by the marathon runners. The route takes the runners past the beautiful old houses at the colonial harbour, some of which date all the way back to city founder Hans Egede’s time. The route then leaves Nuuk and the suburb of Nuussuaq, past the airport and out to the turning point at the new district of Qinngorput, which is attractively framed by the mountains in the background and characterised by contemporary Arctic architecture.

    Since the first Nuuk Marathon was held in 1990 the number of runners has been steadily increasing to stand today at around 350 split between the classic marathon distance, half marathon, 10 kilometres (6.25 miles) and 3.4 kilometre (2.125 miles) mini-marathon for children and families.

    The Nuuk Marathon is also beginning to attract an increasing number of long-distance runners from abroad, which means that the race often has runners of international class. In addition to the cash prizes awarded to the three fastest runners in both the men’s and women’s classes, numerous other prizes are drawn by lot amongst all the runners.

    Please contact the Nuuk Marathon for more information about the race and the travel agencies at which package holidays are available.

    Anyway-sounds interesting. More comments please!!
    Merry Christmas to all!!!

  6. Then there is running the Rat which also sounds cool. How many of my fellow trivia players know where Madagascar is?

    Running the Rat in Madagascar

    Nicole Johnston

    10 August 2007 10:52

    Conquered the Comrades and triumphed in the Two Oceans? If you're addicted to gruelling tests of endurance but feel a bit jaded and in need of a new challenge, look no further. The newest spot to test your marathon mettle is just a hop across the Mozambique channel in Madagascar.

    The Giant Jumping Rat marathon, run in Menabe's Baobab Alley combines a challenging run with breathtaking sights and arguably the most supportive spectators on the planet.

    The route follows a rich red earth road (newly graded, to minimise the risk of breaking an ankle in a pothole), which winds through rice paddies in startling shades of green, ponds strewn with pale pink water lilies and tiny hamlets whose amused inhabitants shout encouragement at runners.

    While motorbike-mounted outriders clear the way for runners, the usual traffic -- on what is essentially the district's main drag -- continues, with families strolling along under brilliantly coloured umbrellas, slow moving zebu (cattle) carts trundling to market and the odd taxi-brousse (bush taxi) filled to capacity with passengers who cheer delightedly each time they pass a runner.

    And for those who enjoy the ambience, but don't have the legs to run a full marathon, there is also a half marathon and a 5km run.

    This year's relatively small field was dominated by Malagasy and American athletes, with about 57 foreigners competing, but runners are spreading the word and predict the race will soon be a fixture on the international marathon calendar.

    There is a growing band of international runners who combine sport and sightseeing to compete in marathons all around the globe. The hardiest of these have run marathons on all seven continents -- from Venice to the Great Wall of China, which led to some interesting arguments about whether Madagascar should count as an African marathon or should be seen as a bonus eighth continent.

    Another draw card for runners from northern countries is that the race is run in their summer vacation, which also means that it is winter in Madagascar. The temperature at the coast is a balmy 28 degrees Celsius with low humidity -- a boon in a country that can be searingly sticky in the hot season.

    The giant jumping rat or Vositse (onomatopoeically pronounced vhoost) in Malagasy, found only in the nearby Kirindy forest, is the mascot for the region and the locals are very proud of it. The Western runners weren't so sure and there were some mutters about changing the name to the baobab marathon (apparently a race named after an overgrown, agile rodent can be a bit off-putting).

    For Thom Gilligan, who runs Boston-based Marathon Tours and organises Antarctica Marathon, the name doesn't really matter, the race is the great adventure: "Madagascar certainly ranks high as an adventurous destination and appeals to those looking for a no-frills vacation combined with a curiosity for nature and a unique culture." He plans to bring at least 50 American runners to the race next year.

    The marathon forms part of the annual Jama (Unity) festival held in Morondava, Menabe's main town. For those who hadn't exhausted themselves on the previous day's run, there was also a bicycle race along the hilariously potholed road around Morondava, which has a tarmac-to-pothole ratio of about 1:2 (apparently dodging them is half of the fun!).

    And for sailing enthusiasts, the beautiful beaches of Nosy Kely played host to a regatta, in which all the competing boats were made and crewed by the legendary Vezo fishermen of the region, famed as the best sailors on the island. The boats, sponsored by businesses and NGOs, attracted a huge crowd with each crew having its own cheering section of women and children who ran up and down the beach, screaming instructions and roaring their approval.

    For more details of the race go to

  7. Thanks Bob, for doing the research and giving us these options. They all have their own charm. I have been particulary intrigued with Madagascar this past year and had planned to go in the next couple of years, so that will seal the deal for me.

  8. I don't do well at altitude, so I'd prefer one of the New England relays. Also, I don't like spending 1-2 days travelling to a destination for a vacation, so Greeland has my vote for a marathon.

    My 2 cents.


  9. Berlin, Berlin, Berlin. Even though I'm not a beer drinker my pals at BCRR would enjoy the Octoberfest!! Emily, I think Simon might like this one! And if they have a half Evelyn said she'd be interested. Berlin, Berlin, Berlin!!