Soaring landscapes, searing heat. As part of our Destination: Run series, we thought we’d tap into what YOU feel are the elements that make your city, region of the country or world the best place for working out. By a landslide, the most vocal dailymissionaries were from the Pacific Northwest. You guys know how to represent!
Ultracouchdude says Portland’s the best city to run in year round: “The climate has a nice change to it and the variety of terrain is amazing!” Jodi C. explains the appeal of that part of the country, saying, “We have trails, trails, and trails…through rainforest, high desert and coastal areas. The weather is always temperate. Let’s talk views…ranging from Columbia River Gorge, Cascade Range, Coastal Range, Mount St. Helens, along the Willamette River, Crater Lake, Steens Mtns…on and on and on I could go.”
Christine B. from Eugene brings in another element that makes Oregon the place to race to: a running history that includes Steve Prefontain, Salazar, Bowerman, and Mary Decker-Slaney. “Add to that Hayward Field, Pre’s Trail, all the training facilities and practice fields of the University of Oregon, which were the launching point for Nike.”
“HELLOOOOOOO,” Salem’s Keith S. busted out. “I live in Oregon!”
Kristine S. from Tacoma, Wash., loves the weather out her way, where it’s very rare for it to hit over 80 degrees. There are crisp fall mornings, too. And rain. “But if you aren’t made of sugar you can run in the rain all you want,” she says. “We have MAYBE one or two days of ice or snow each winter where you may find it too treacherous to run outside. When the sky is blue and the sun is out, makes the days filled with rain seem like a distant memory!”
Meanwhile, Tory K. from Marysville, Wash., says, “We can run 365 days a year, not to mention kayak, ski, snowshoe, bike, etc.” Just north of Seattle, across the Canadian border, Bree from Surrey, B.C., similarly raved about Vancouver’s healthy lifestyle opportunities and gorgeous scenery. “Oceans, mountains, fields, and forests all in our backyard. You can ski, swim, run, hike, cycle, skate, row…all on the same day if you really wanted! We even have world class surfing just a ferry ride away.”
Sheesh. Okay, guys. We get it. The Pacific Northwest rules.
But, people — like places — come in all shades and surprises. Rain and cool climes may be great for this bunch, but some like it hot. And sweaty.
Georgia offers runners “the 3 H’s: Hills, Heat and Humidity,” says Bill H. from Cumming. Sharon M. from Hotlanta says these conditions make working out really hard, but it gets you into shape. “If you can train throughout the summer down here then you deserve a medal just for that,” she says. “But the best thing is that you will ace your Fall races because your conditioning will be so good!”
Speaking of conditioning, Derek C. from Tulsa banged this out on his keypad about the place that gets him but not bothered: “I live in Oklahoma. Summers here are hotter than hell. That tends to enlarge the already healthy chip on my shoulder. I’m not very Zen-y when I train. I train angry. So, thank you unforgiving, oppressive Oklahoma summers for continually pissing me off and pushing me to grind it out.”
Some people, like Lani from Sierra Vista, Ariz., likes a different kind of heat: the dry kind. “The most I need in the winter to run are tights, a long sleeve shirt, and gloves,” she says. “And since we hardly get any precipitation, it makes it even nicer!” Over in Las Vegas, Nev., Charlene R. gives it up for the sunshine and temps, too. “Yes, we have a month or two of HEAT, but when everyone else is snowed in, I am running in shorts,” she says. “I have never missed a workout or had to alter my workout because of bad weather.”
Californians raved about their good weather, too, and their beaches and mountains and canyons and trails. Candace P. from Los Angeles also pointed out another plus: “Can’t forget the celebrity sightings on a run.”
The Colorado contingent also cheered their climate and scenery.
Mary from Denver explains, “Sunshine 95% of the year. No humidity, cactus in places, and no matter where I go I can see the mountains (which means I always know where’s West!).” Ty G., who lives 40 mins. from Boulder and 15 mins. from the foothills, says, “My favorite race just might be the Georgetown to Idaho Springs half, which is a mountain town-to-mountain town race. Training at altitude gives me (perhaps a false sense of) an edge when I go race at sea level.”
While some rave about endless days in the sunshine, for others, variety hits the sweet spot. Carol B. from Macedon, N.Y., says, “Fall is incredible with brilliant colors. Winter is, well, it’s terrible, lets move on. Spring can be awesome when it finally makes it here, and before you know it, summer brings sun and warmth. Who wouldn’t love that variety? (Don’t answer that you Californians, Hawiians, etc…)”
Like living life in the extreme?
Well, then Angus M. says St. Louis, Mo., is the place for you. “We get cold winter days, while occasionally receiving a funnel cloud on New Year’s Day,” he says. “[Besides springtime tornadoes], we get major bolts falling upon us while the flood water rises, and summer brings very hot and VERY humid days.”
But it’s not just the weather or pretty views that elevate a place in the eye of a runner; community does, too.
Mark C. from Fort Collins, Colo., says the town is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities around with an active and vibrant population — and tons of microbreweries. Doug L. says downtown Orlando, Fla., and most of the surrounding suburban neighborhoods are chock-o-block full of runners. “It’s great to feel like you are part of a running community when you see so many people out during your workout.” Likewise, Keith H. says Columbus, Ga., has some great running stores and a growing running culture.
Beyond community, how about brushes with weirdness?
Karen L. from Anchorage, Alaska, gushes about the state’s obvious wild beauty and mild climate (in southern Alaska, daytime temps often hit the 60s or 70s with low humidity). But, she also says, “[T]he spirit of Alaskans and their promotion of individualism is equally appealing. If you want to do something completely novel in Alaska, onlookers probably wouldn’t bat an eye. In fact they’d probably perfect it with a new innovation. The weirder it is the better. So you don’t have to feel self conscious – just do it!”
Fellow Alaskan Taryn fleshes it out, saying, “You do have to carry bear spray and battle bees, and you may encounter the occasional methed-out hitchhiker or rotting moose carcass, but that just adds to the running excitement. Running in Alaska adds a whole new element of awesomeness to the sport.”
Clear across the continent and living on an entirely different — yet somehow strangely similar — plane, Dcc from New York, N.Y., says of their unique environment, “[I]f you can run it here (and not get killed by a taxi, bike messenger or one of you outsiders visiting and looking at all the shiny buildings) you can run it anywhere.”
Beyond people and places, for some DMers it’s just about attitude. Marlon O. from Norman, Okla., says, “Anywhere i can run and work up a good sweat is the best place for a workout.” And Trailultra muses, “I’ve been lots of places and have known lots of athletes. I think it comes from within….inner fire.”
Quick note: We’ll have more of your responses in our next Destination: Run post (since we haven’t even gotten to why the Midwest is a great place to workout, and we’d also like to share what International DMers have to say about their locales).