Going the distance: Destination races
When you think of going on vacation, you probably don’t think about doing too much other than sipping fruity cocktails, lying on the beach and maybe checking out some sights if you aren’t too tired from all that relaxing. But a new trend has emerged where taking a trip means more than bellying up to the bar. A new breed of travelers is mixing fitness with fun by signing up for races in other cities, states or even countries. Destination races are a great way to combine running and travel, and we’re here to give you the inside scoop on this healthy vacation idea.
Run -- and have fun
SheKnows got some more information about this growing trend from Matt Fitzgerald, senior editor of Competitor Magazine, and Bouker Pool, senior vice president of marketing, Competitor Group, Inc, creators of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series of destination races. Pool explains that destination races have grown in popularity because people want a reason to travel somewhere new but also stay fit and healthy. "These races offer the best of both worlds because they combine someone's vacation with an activity they are passionate about," he says, adding that a destination race is also the best way to enjoy a vacation because you can indulge after crossing the finish line -- as a reward for all the training you did for the big event.
A growing trend
Pool predicts that participation in destination events will only continue to grow in the future due to the unique combination of travel and fitness that more and more people are gravitating toward. You get to compete in a race – which means sharing a similar experience and feeling of accomplishment with thousands of like-minded people, -- and then you can explore a city that you've always wanted to see. "By traveling to a new city to run your first marathon, you get to cross two items off your bucket list," Pool says. Plus, once you complete the race, you'll really feel like you've earned your vacation, which allows you to celebrate your accomplishment for the remainder of the trip by enjoying restaurants, shopping and attractions in that city.
The Rock 'n' Roll series of marathons and half-marathons will grow to 25 events in destinations around the world in 2012.
Matt Fitzgerald has done races all over, including New Orleans, San Francisco, Nashville, New York, St. Maarten and Bermuda, and he shares his tips for how best to prepare for a destination race.
Choose wisely: Be sure to put as much care into choosing a race as you would put into choosing a location and know what you're getting into before you go. Sites such as MarathonGuide.com offer reviews of marathons from all over the world, from participants.
Plan well: Ask yourself what's more important -- your race performance or your travel experience? If you decide that the travel experience is your top priority, then you won't be stressed out if long flights, loss of sleep, jet lag and sightseeing leave you too tired to set a personal best time in your race.
Do your research: Putting time into learning about the race before your trip will help you avoid all kinds of setbacks. Do you need a visa to travel to your chosen destination? Which hotel is most conveniently located near the race site? What measures do you need to take to stay (or try to stay) on your normal pre-race diet? Where can you do your pre-race training? Anything you can do in advance to make the experience easier is a good idea.
Prioritize: If you plan to combine racing and tourism, one of the most important considerations is whether to do your sightseeing before or after the race. Fitzgerald recommends saving sightseeing for after the race, since doing it before can tire you out and distract you from your preparation. Also, you might not enjoy your sightseeing as much if the race is looming before you.
If you're thinking of checking out a destination race but you're not sure where to begin or what type of location would be best, we've got some ideas to get you started.
Weekend getaway: Not everyone can take a week off, but why not take a two-or three-day urban escape in an easily accessible city? By signing up for a race somewhere different but not too far afield you can see new sights, experience the culture, then enjoy a night on the town.
Adventure vacation: Plan an adventure vacation with your friends or family that keeps everyone moving while having fun. Choose a location where you'll be able to enjoy the great outdoors (hike, bike, etc.) post-race. But don't work too hard – you deserve a break after your run!
Spa retreat: If you feel like getting away for some much-needed relaxation, check out some upcoming races in New York or Miami Beach where you can hit the pavement – then hit the spa. A day of pampering will feel amazing after crossing the finish line.
Whether you want to travel to an exotic locale, check out a new city or simply visit friends and family, destination races are a great way to incorporate fitness into any vacation.