It's been a month since my friends at Secret London Runs set me a challenge: How many running tours can I complete in a year? I spent November with my new pals at City Running Tours in the US - and it was awesome!
SAN DIEGO - 13th November
I had the pleasure of taking a private tour of San Diego's Old town with the lovely Julie, manager of City Running Tours San Diego, and her partner Jorge. On a previous work trip to San Diego I had passed through the area on a "trolley" (San Diego's version of a tour bus) so I was very keen to explore and learn about this distinctive and colourful place. The Old Town is the birthplace of San Diego and has a significant Mexican influence due to its history (which I learnt all about on my tour!).
The area is very different to the rest of the city as care has been taken to keep it traditional. We started in the centre of the Old Town park which is a square holding a variety of restaurants, bars, shops, museums and attractions. After admiring the bright murals left over from the Day of the Dead holiday we ran to Presido Park to admire the views and learn more about the history of the area. The rest of the 5k tour took me through the affluent palm tree lined neighbourhood of Mission Hills, which was beautiful and had some jaw-dropping houses and views; also the Heritage Park which holds preserved Victorian buildings. We then ran back into the centre of the Old Town to visit Whaley House, the most haunted house in the US (I thought I was done with being scared on running tours after my last ghost tour with Secret London Runs), the El Campo Santo Cemetery and the Casa de Estudillo, a museum in the shape of a traditional Mexican home.
They were both gentle with me and my injuries as I had fallen down Potato Chip Rock the previous day! After the tour we shared a drink in the sun at one of the bars.
SEATTLE - 18th November
Kate and David, manager and guide at Seattle City Running Tours hosted me for another brilliant tour. Kate’s tours are named after American rock bands and I took the “Pearl Jam” tour which covered 5.5 miles of Seattle’s centre.
Running with fellow marathon runners meant we went at a decent pace, covering all of the city's classic sights including Pike place market, the gum wall, Seattle pier, the Space Needle, a couple of cool districts such as Belltown and Capitol Hill and some autumnal parks such as the Olympic Park and Freeway park. We were really lucky to run on a sunny and clear day in a normally rainy Seattle, meaning that we could see the mountains. We were also lucky with the traffic lights which seemed to turn red whenever we needed a breather! (Seattle is quite hilly!)
Even though I have visited Seattle numerous times before I learnt a lot about the places I had already been (including why the gum wall is there, why the space needle has it’s name and something very interesting about the “first” Starbucks). The tour was filled with interesting anecdotes from history including tales of anarchy, riot, divorce, rock n roll, a fatal mistake that burned down the city and the lengths some people would go to see their favourite band.. I left with a large “to do” list of new things to do on my next trip here. In true Seattle style, we ended with a delicious coffee (I went for the mocha which is made with dark chocolate) which is included in Kate’s tour.
Sadly there aren't any running tour companies in Birmingham so I was unable to do a tour of my new home town. Next month I have planned to run in Singapore, Sydney, the Bahamas and I'm hoping to squeeze in another festive Secret London Run!