From an early age, my ears have been accustom to the rhythmic sound of my feet repeatedly hitting the ground while running long distances. In many ways I didn’t choose to be a runner, running chose me. With my long, skinny arms and legs like uncooked spaghetti, I was never genetically built to be the next Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. If you want something heavy moved, I’m probably not your guy.
However, a lot my like many other members of my family, running and keeping up a steady pace came very naturally to me. As a child, my father would take me out running with him, and just like any parent trying to do the best for their child my Dad wasn’t very quiet when it came to helping me correct my posture, breathing and pace. Nonetheless, we always had fun and I am happy to say that we have had the opportunity to run together all around the world.
On this post, I will go over some of the best spots to run in North America, with a mixture of trails that are interesting, beautiful and some that are damn right insane. Admittedly, this is not a conclusive list as I’m sure a definitive list of the best running spots in North America would be infinite. After all, North America is a large content with plenty of breathtaking trails (Literally and figuratively). As a result, this list is a combination of notoriously tough trails, spectacularly beautiful routes and a couple of my favourite spots to get my blood pumping.
A classic American landmark and one of the world most phenomenal natural wonders, this is a perfect landscape for hardcore runners. Whether you are looking for a short run or if you are really looking to prove yourself, this environment will definitely test your limits.
The Angel Bright Trail (22.5 miles) is a popular path for many runners visiting The Grand Canyon. Starting from the South Rim, the trail begins with a taxing decline of roughly 4,400 feet. After about halfway the ground levels out and becomes fairly flat, and finally, concludes with a with a slightly steep finish for the last 4 miles.
You can also take part in the Grand Canyon Half Marathon which takes place in October. Make sure you bring a lot of water and whatever you do, remember, there is no shame in taking a break, especially in that baking summer sun. Much like any trail that is deep in mother nature, it is important that you do your research beforehand because let’s face it, we don’t want you becoming a mountain lion’s next meal!
Big Sur is unquestionably a magnificent location, not only for the excellent running opportunities but also because of the divine coastline and crashing waves. This gorgeous scenery provides a perfect backdrop for a therapeutic running session.
At 15 years old, my father and I drove along Big Sur stopping off to rest, eat and of course to sneak in the odd run. Eight years later, we rented a car from LA and drove up to San Francisco, taking the time to visit all our old spots and running trails. Needless to say, this is one of my favourite places in the world to get out and stretch my legs.
The Jade Cove Trail is a popular route that is probably more exquisite than the gem that it is named after. It is home to incredible views of the Californian coast which gives you an unreal sense of running through a movie scene. Though I have never run this trail myself, it is definitely on my list and must do for nature lovers.
To get a better an insight into what it is like to seriously experience Big Sur as a long distance runner I spoke to Jess Laudati. Jess took part in the Big Sur International Marathon, here are her thoughts on the Marathon and advice for anyone that fancies giving it a try.
Sam: Why do you choose to run at Big Sur?
Jess: “Big Sur was a destination run for me! Growing up in New England I never had the opportunity to run on the West Coast before. I was drawn there in particular by the breathtaking coastline, picture perfect views, and beautiful weather, (and the valor of the race of course!)….it had been on my list since I started running long distances years and years ago.”
Sam: Where in Big Sur do you like to run and why (eg Trails, Paths, Marathons etc…)?
Jess: “I ran the Big Sur International Marathon–it was my bucket list race that I never even thought I could get accepted into (it works off a lottery acceptance method)!! 26.2 miles up the Pacific Highway coastline, really doesn’t get much better than that.
Not only does this race offer stunning views….but it draws people from all over the world. Elite runners, runners of all ages ranging from 17-80, runners from 39 countries and 49 states, over 8,000 runners participating in the various lengths of the course, and over 2,500 volunteers who work together to make the race what it is! Really something to marvel at!”
Sam: What advice would you have for runners that want to visit Big Sur?
Jess: “Ohhh yes, my advice after running Big Sur. The hills will either be your best friend or worst enemy. Train for them! Embrace them! Post race I appropriately said “Big Sur Marathon; you hilly ass, stunningly beautiful b*tch you…you hurt so damn good!” And that pretty much nailed it on the head. This was a race to be enjoyed on all facets from start to finish! Get out there and truly treasure all that Big Sur has to offer up close and personal.”
This next location is less about the physical surrounds (despite its undeniable beauty) and more about the culture and people that inhabit the area.
The Tarahumara, which is roughly translated as “running people” or “foot-runner”, are a small indigenous tribe which are world famous for their super human long distance running abilities. Running is deeply entrenched in their culture and has been for hundreds of years.
They utilise their insane long-distance running skills to hunt animals and deliver messages between families. For The Tarahumara, running is not a daily burden or something they pick up for the first two weeks of January. Instead, it is a way of life and source of joy. For any passionate runner, running with The Tarahumara is definitely a “must do” experience before you die.
I need to clarify that this entry is not entirely objective as it is a personal favourite location of mine for running. With that being said Newport is undeniably a very enjoyable place to spend your summer running.
After all, during the summer months, the town is filled with rich and famous holiday makers. Moreover, the local area also has many famous property owners there such as Taylor Swift, Seth MacFarlane and James Woods. The fantastic cliff walks, beaches and sun-kissed coastline are enough to make any fanatic runner want to put on their running shoes.
While growing up I was fortunate enough to visit my family there every summer. During that time my father and I would spend many mornings and afternoons running along the rocky coastline. I have many fond memories there and if you ever get the chance I would definitely recommend a scenic trip around Newport’s lovely Cliff Walk trail. Also, If you find yourself in Newport during March you can take part in the local half marathon.
As previously stated, North America is far too big and beautiful to go through every exceptional running spot. However, I hope this article has given you a taste of what is on offer and has ignited a desire in you to explore this great content. So get your running shoes on, get out there and get a sweat on!