Running Abroad: Huntingdon and London, United Kingdom
In October 2014, the day after I ran the Baltimore Running Festival half marathon, I traveled to the UK for a conference. I planned ahead to run or walk each morning since I knew that after sitting through an international flight and then sitting in folding chairs for 3 days straight, I had to do something to keep my muscles loose.
My hotel, the Holiday Inn Huntingdon-Racecourse, was one I hadn’t stayed in before. A quick check on Google Maps indicated that there would be some fields nearby with roads I could run on. I knew the mornings would be dark so I tossed my headlamp into my travel bag, which ended up being a good thing since the roads were dirt and had a lot of potholes and ruts that constantly threatened to twist my ankles.
Unfortunately, it was cold and rainy and windy almost the whole time I was in Huntingdon. Although the front desk people thought I was nuts, I ventured out every day and returned soaking wet and chilled about an hour later. Could I have skipped my runs? Sure. But how many times do you get to say that you ran through a farmer’s field in England? Even so, my favorite walk while staying in this area was an evening walk though Cambridge with some of my fellow conference attendees.
After the conference, I headed to London to spend the night before my flight back to the US the following morning. I was traveling with a colleague and we’d decided to meet up around breakfast time to spend a few hours sightseeing around London before our flight. That meant I had to get up super early to get my run in and still have time to pack and eat before meeting my colleague. It was so worth it!
Our hotel (the Strand Palace) was in London’s theater district. The early morning hour meant that all the revelers from the night before were finally in their beds, but the business folk hadn’t yet gotten up to start their days.
I had almost completely empty streets to run through.
I saw all the tourist sights without other people around—perfect views of Buckingham Palace and the London Eye all lit up with no crowds jostling for position! The only crowd I saw was when I accidentally ran through the most polite protest sit-in I’ve ever seen (in front of one of the United Nations buildings).
While I ended up visiting a lot of these same sights later with my colleague, there was something really special about having them all to myself that morning. It was a perfect way to see the city, and something I would highly recommend if you have the opportunity.
You can also check out some other Casual Running adventures from the road, including Jennifer’s run through Central Park during her trip to New York City, her picturesque runs in Key West, Florida, Mike’s trip to Hilton Head Island, and COMING SOON! more of Jennifer’s training runs around the world.
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