Given the heavy trail-and-mountain focus so far of this blog, any reader could be forgiven for not knowing that BB and I began as road runners, pretty much exclusively. Road running appeals to me: it’s simple, monotonous, and I can let go of all my thoughts and just focus on the run. No thinking, no variation. Just run. While my current focus is hard mountain trails, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be a long-distance road runner again soon enough.
But the “boundary conditions” that this blog purports to report on are not merely those at the limits of wilderness. And since BB and I are semi-regular world-travelers, I thought I’d write a report about our running this past weekend in Taipei. We left Seattle on Tuesday night, spent the night with friends in Vancouver BC, and then hopped on a plane to Taiwan Wednesday morning. It landed, of course, on Thursday night.
I have been to Taipei before, but this was BB’s first time. It’s a huge dervish of a city. Complex and polyglot and disorientingly foreign. But it’s a large city that works: it’s clean, and safe, and easy to get around on foot or on the metro. When we travel, we do most of our exploring on foot. And so we walked about 40 miles in the 2.5 days we were there, seeing amazing things and enjoying the warm weather.
Additionally we went on two five-mile runs, and a single “hike” of about 3/4 of a mile that went up 510 feet of stairs. But we got great views from it and wonderful workouts in warm humidity (flop sweat! yayay!).
The runs we did were flat, though. We were going to run up to the top of a big hill in a park on the north end of the city, but there were scary, off-leash junkyard dogs. Like, guarding a literal junkyard. I admit, I was scared. Fighting guard dogs is low on my list of satisfying diversions, and one was sniffing, growling, and snapping at my heels, from point-blank range. I called out to BB: “Uh, I’m not crazy about this!” We turned around.
So we headed down to the river path. On both sides of the Tamsui River in Taipei, there is wide greenspace with little paved trails. The bike paths are at least 100km, and the dedicated running paths – well there’s a good 18km loop, but you could probably run 50 miles without running the same stretch of pavement twice. Taipei obviously has both a running and cycling culture. We saw lots of fit people running – presumably training for the “winter” race season when it’s not so humid and temperatures top out in the high 60s. Additionally, there are both half and full distance Ironman-branded triathlons in Taiwan.
Our runs were fun. We took them easy, not aiming for speed. Just a nice jog through a new place.
Fun runs in distant lands are definitely a major part of what we’ve come to enjoy about traveling. We’ve run little 3-5 mile jogs in Hong Kong, Bled, Vicenza, Buenos Aires, Bermuda, and this next spring there will be more. It’s a wonderful thing to do when travelling, and we’re incredibly grateful to be able to enjoy it.