Yet again, it’s been a while since I’ve made an appearance. The good news is I haven’t given up running during that time. Last month, I joined 13 other runners on an adventure through Morocco. I’m generally against group tours, but I figured what can go wrong combining two of my favorite things, running and traveling. So I dove in and met the group in Marrakesh for our 10 day running expedition.
The trip is designed so anyone, no matter their running ability, can see the colorful country off the beaten path. Each day we moved from village to village, did some sight-seeing along the way and then would hit our departure point. They would tell us how many miles until the hotel and we could choose to run the distance that we desired. The 4x4s that carted us to that point would then loop around us providing water and snack stops and a pick-up if you just couldn’t go any further.
We ran through villages, along paths that were speckled with nomad camps, through a gorge and eventually in the sand of the Sahara Desert. We saw snow-capped mountains, hills filled with layers of different colors, gave high-fives and ran with children in the villages and passed camels grazing on the unexpected arugula that had sprouted in the desert.
My favorite run started at the top of a hill and we worked our way down the dirt road to the asphalt that would lead us through a village. It had just rained so we started a little lower than planned so we wouldn’t slip on the mud. As I worked my way down, I was looked from left to right and felt like I was in a movie. I couldn’t believe the colors. I kept looking back and forth and even though I had to dodge the small rocks in my FiveFingers, I couldn’t have enjoyed the run more. A couple of runners waited for me at the bottom of the hill where the dirt met asphalt and we made our way into the village. Children were waiting for us and joined us as we made our way through their familiar streets. They yelled “yalla” to encourage us to go faster as we weaved through the red clay buildings. After 10 miles and the mountains getting closer and closer to form the Todra Gorge, we were met with a river crossing that was covered in rushing brown water. It was time to get in a 4×4 to cross the water, but I couldn’t have asked for better scenery and company during that run.
Looking back, I can’t imagine a more exciting way to discover a new country. I highly recommend seeing a country with the main focus on running and allowing that to take you at least part of the way from point-to-point.