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Running the World

Published: 20/03/2012 - Filed under: Home » Archive » March 2012 » Lifestyle »

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Frank Charles Shorter is credited with having set the spark that ignited the running boom in the 70’s here in the US. As a long distance runner in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Shorter brought home the gold.

Having spent a considerable part of his life throughout the world, the German-born US citizen personally picked Boulder – a town tucked into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains – as his home in 1970.

“It’s a great place to train and live, where we get about 300 days of sun a year—more than Miami or San Diego,” Shorter explains. “You can count on getting outside to do whatever you want to do, almost everyday.” 

Boulder 

High altitudes produce hefty hemoglobin counts. For this reason athletes choose to train high and run low. This makes Colorado a perfect choice for runners—both residents and visitors. 

Boulder’s 140 miles of interlocking trails feature a variety of character types. 

“Bike and trail systems are all across town. You never have to stop and jog in place because the paths cross beneath the intersections,” says Shorter. From his back door, he can head west into town and onto a trail system that runs through stands of stately Ponderosa pines in the foothills of the jagged Flatirons, and from there up into the mountains.

For guests planning a visit to Boulder, Shorter suggests two downtown hotels: The Boulderado, a historic luxury hotel, and the Millennium Harvest House Hotel, situated on the Boulder Creek Path. Like his house, Shorter says, “You can practically come out the back door and onto the trails without ever having to cross a road.” Every election in Boulder includes a proposition to purchase open space to create more miles of trails, keeping green spaces open.

Obviously, Shorter’s adopted home of Boulder tops the list of his favorite running spots. Beyond this first place choice, Shorter’s hot list of notable running destinations include:

1. Oslo, Norway: “They have a lighted trail system for cross country skiing in winter that’s perfect for running in the warmer weather.” 

2. London: “As long as I’m staying near Hyde/High Park. You can be right in the city and always have a place where you can run. High Park Tower Hotel is my favorite place to stay when I’m there.”

With the Summer Olympics crowds coming to town for the August Games, you might consider an earlier event for your London run; the Virgin London Marathon, April 22. From Greenwich Park and through the city, the route passes many of the city’s renowned tourist attractions including Westminster, the Tower of London, the Eye and following the Thames to Buckingham Palace. 

Visit virginlondonmarathon.com

3. Miyazaki, located on Kyushu, Japan’s third largest island and most southwesterly of the four. “The tropical weather is always very tempered. There’s also a huge running community and they love running.”

Perhaps after training in Japan, you’ll consider The Great Wall Marathon in Tianjin, China. Be forewarned; the ascents and descents are extreme, adding substantially more time and exertion to complete the trek within the eight-hour time limit amidst stunning views of China’s countryside. Visit great-wall-marathon.com

Telluride 

Southwest of Boulder, a laid back mix of celebrities and locals at 8,750 feet coincides with a neighboring mountain village on San Juan Mountain at 9,540 feet. This fusion of surreal vistas is known as Telluride.

The town’s many fitness enthusiasts run the town and trails routinely. Telluride is also the finish for the annual 17-mile Imogene Pass Run on dirt roads that climb to the summit at 13,120 feet. Visit imogenerun.com 

Given the altitude, a local physician, Dr. Peter Hackett actually created the Institute for Altitude Medicine at Telluride. 

Dr. Hackett’s tips for recreational runners at high altitude are:

1. Slow your pace and include more rests. Don’t try to run at the same intensity as at low altitude. This will cause fatigue earlier than expected.

2. Drink extra water to avoid the increased dehydration that comes from breathing the dry air; enough to produce clear urine.

3. Avoid mountain sickness. It will impair your desire and ability to run. Sleep at a lower altitude than the highest altitude where you’ll be during the day, if possible. Ascend to a sleeping altitude of over 9,000 feet in stages, sleeping at around 7,000 feet at least one night while in route.

4. Do not reduce your usual intake of caffeine when you go to high altitude.

5. Wear sunscreen. UV radiation at altitude is 5 percent greater than at sea level for every thousand feet up you go.

6. Prepare for mountain weather with layers that include protection from wind, rain and snow.

7. If running competitively, never plan to arrive at altitude and compete on the same day or the next day. It’s best is to arrive at altitude 7-10 days before competing. If not possible, arrive no less than three days before competing.

8. For long-distance endurance events, eat snacks every two hours and do not over-hydrate with water. Exercise-induced hyponatremia may be more common at high altitude and can be fatal. Eating is the best source of salt; sport drinks are not sufficient.

France

If speed is not necessarily your reason for running, but fun is, Marathon du Medoc may have your name written all over it.

Billing itself as “The Longest, Slowest Marathon in the World,” Marathon du Medoc – an event steeped in folklore and fun – offers the perfect opportunity to experience the southwestern region of France, an impeccable 26-mile blend of beauty, fine winery and gastronomy combined. 

Set against a backdrop of over 50 vineyards and chateaus in the villages of the Medoc wine region, runners and wine aficionados alike can delight in the opportunity to indulge in wine and culinary excellence at every drink station. 

On signage, you’ll see names like Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Lynch-Bages, Pichon Lonqueville and Beychevelles – great wines made available throughout the race at the many stations the runners pass. 

This year’s event takes place September 8. Visit marathondumedoc.com 

If September is too far away, perhaps nothing could be finer than a visit to the City of Lights this spring for the Marathon de Paris (visit parismarathon.com). With more than 35,000 participants, the April 15 race begins on the Champs-Elysees and journeys along the River Seine past sights that include the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral, for a finish at the Arc de Triomphe. Not to be outdone, they too offer wine and cheese about three-quarters of the way through the race.

Napa Valley

One can never visit a place like Napa Valley just once. Its natural beauty – up high and down low – is beyond words. 

Between the splendor of so many great wineries, the opportunity to meet local vintners and sample their wares and cuisine that rates many stars and diamonds even for the diviest of local dives – exercise is a must while you’re here. 

For runners, the pristine beauty of Bothe-Napa Valley State Park is a tough choice to beat. The park offers 8.5 miles of preserved indigenous flora and fauna winding through forests of coastal redwoods, Douglas fir, tanoak and madrone. And on the outskirts of the city, you’ll find Skyline Wilderness Park. A visit to this natural preserve with its abundance of wildlife and native wildflowers will do wonders for the spirit. 

On April 29, 2012, the Land Trust of Napa County will offer a free to the public trail run on Archer Taylor Preserve, a century old redwood forest. The community-based nonprofit is dedicated to preserving the character of Napa by permanently protecting the land. Visit napalandtrust.org 

Africa 

For Donald Walker, a psychology professor at Devry University and director of the non-profit Atlanta Diabetes Advocacy & Prevention (ADAP), running is a way of, and way to, a healthy, good life. 

“In no way did I fit the profile of a typical diabetic,” says Walker. After being active in sports, running marathons and adopting a regimen of proper nutrition, Walker became a Type 2 Diabetic at the age of 43. 

“After collapsing into a diabetic coma due to glucose levels at 1,060, and A1C of 12.8, my life changed drastically on February 12, 2008. Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Nonketotic Syndrome – the result of a severe case of the flu –required me to take insulin in order to survive.”

In an attempt to make lemonade, Walker took up his cross as an advocate on exercise and proper nutrition for diabetes. He now shares his story throughout the community in hopes of saving lives and helping provide treatment to those who are financially challenged. 

“ADAP was established to serve the growing demand for support for public health providers in the state of Georgia, where diabetes is moving towards epidemic levels. In addition, ADAP seeks to lower the increasing cost of healthcare for corporations,” explains Walker, who by running marathons worldwide as part of his outreach, has raised nearly $55,000. 

Prior to the diagnosis Walker had successfully competed in marathons in both Chicago and Paris. But after the trauma of his personal diagnosis, he felt he would never be able to run in a 26-miler.

“First, the high glucose levels of the coma left me with vision problems and nerve damage in my leg. My weight dropped from 189 to 165 in a matter of a month because my pancreas had stopped producing insulin.”

Shortly after regaining control of his life and leaving the pity party behind, Walker became inspired by a paraplegic who said to him: “I don’t feel disabled. People want me to be disabled and I refuse.” 

“That changed my life,” recalls Walker, who then vowed to wear the shoes of a champion and advocate via running on behalf of diabetes. Subsequently, his first stop was the Rio de Janiero Marathon in 2010. But after having laid out for two years since the last marathon, running Rio was no cakewalk at all. 

“Having to first overcome the psychological hurdle, followed by the anxiety that accompanied a pulled leg muscle two weeks prior to the race, it looked doubtful. However as I traveled to Rio via Sao Paulo, I met three very inspiring ladies: A cancer survivor and two amputees. They too were heading to the marathon.” Although brief, the encounter with the three women served to eradicate any further doubt in his mind, Walker says “I finished in the upper tier of my group of runners, ages 45-55.”

To prepare for South Africa’s Big Five Marathon June 23rd or Kenya’s Safaricom Marathon June 30th, Walker is seeking support of corporate partners willing to aid the effort to treat and educate diabetics. To support the organization or volunteer to help meet its goal of reducing diabetes throughout the state of Georgia by 10 percent over the next 10 years, visit atlantadap.org

Getting in Gear

US Olympic champion Frank Charles Shorter reminds runners that the right gear can also make the difference in the success of your run. His tips for proper attire include:

1. You only need one good pair of training shoes. But take two for a backup.

2. Choose shorts, socks and shirts that are hand-washable to wash in the shower. 

3. Opt for a water repellent, microfiber nylon running suit outer layer. The cheaper nylons will keep you dry but won’t breath, leaving you hot. “My windbreaker can fold up into a fanny pack,” he says. “It’s that thin and yet warm. So I don’t need a parka to run.” (A product such as Nike’s Hurricane Vapor Jacket fits Shorter’s description nearly to a tee. $115 at the Nike Store. Visit nike.com.)

4. Include a really good top, a fleece neck gaiter, a fleece hat that covers your head, fleece gloves that cover your wrists and Coolmax undergarments.  

— Michael Andre Adams


 

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