What makes Atlas to Sahara adventure mind blowing?

What my friend Abdu Oukioud showed me in the Atlas Mountains back in 2017 was an open door to his world. These are some reasons why this trip is so close to my dreams.

It is a damn time travel machine.

I think this is the best way to describe it,  I’ve never in my life ran through places so far away from this century, and it is not that there’s no people, it is than in some of those villages there are very few things that could make you notice that you are not in 9th bc.

But wait, that is only the beginning of the story.

The Running

So, let’s say you are in Marrakesh seeing a bunch of tourist go south in their buses, What do you do?

Go east!

Anyone who know us will tell you that we don’t really like asphalt roads, and happily people in the places we are going don’t know what an asphalt road is.

Over six days our running will be full of diversity, because while traversing the Atlas mountains we might find snow for example over the Tizi Ait’Timi pass (3000m), sometimes we’ll be following mules paths, river running by the M’Goung canyon is one of my favorite parts, and also get ready to face dunes and sand storms when we get to the Sahara.

The Landscape

When you go back home everything is going to look … smaller. Morocco is a geological festival. The Mountain range we are crossing from north to south became commonly identified as the site Titan Atlas got condemned by Zeus to hold up the sky for eternity. The Atlas mountains hold inside spectacular places.

The team

The moment you take part into one of our adventures you become one of us, there are no privileges, we are all in the same boat and everyone need to paddle, My very good friend Abdu Oukioud is probably the best guide in the whole country, and this is not only my opinion but also Intrepid travel’s, he used to be be a professional runner for Morocco but more importantly he’s the most energetic person. Mohamed is our chef, Ali is in charge of getting our stuff to the place we are sleeping, Mustafa is our other running leader, second generation of guides in his family, expert in everything from rock climbing to rafting, and they are all fantastic drum players

The Music

Berbers say you don’t become a man until you learn how to play the drum, music is part of the culture but not the kind you play in the radio, the kind you make on your own.
We were thinking in asking you to send a video of yourself dancing but the ultrarunner Adam Jarkow proved that you don’t need any experience.

The food

The bread, oh my god, the bread, I remember that when I was young and stupid I used to believe that the best thing of Morocco was the bread. Also the Moroccan tea is legendary, and we are going to have it so many times a day. As in many other Mediterranean countries eating is a social thing that in Morocco come with music too.

The people

The Berbers, they are actually the real reason of this trip, meeting them, running with them, learning a bit of their language, drink tea together, eating their food, accept their hospitality, admire their incredible sustainable way of life. When you go back home if you randomly meet someone from Morocco you are going to have the impulse to hug that person, do it.


You need to be certain type of person too, I believe you can only enjoy this if you have eyes to see, and I also believe people need to understand that a it’s a honor to be welcome in a lot of the places we will be, so we need to do our best to deserve our guest hospitality.

More about it? [add_single_eventon id=”12878″ ev_uxval=”3″ ]


Former Atlas to Sahara runners thoughts



A crazy trail running company that do things upside down.

Why upside down?

Well… because instead of trying be likable we just think about ourselves.

Yes!, we do what we love and then try to find those like us.

We follow some basic rules, less call them values, a sort of philosophy that makes us run to the other side of the mountain.

We expect those joining us to embrace them too.

These are our values

We stick to them.

1.  Be a local matters

We are locals in the 3 different sites of the world we run in. We can show an area because we belong to it.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 14714,14618,14617″ limit=”3″ target=”blank” width=”220″ height=”220″ title=”never” class=”galleria1″]

We create running adventures and expeditions that are unique because they have our signature, they have a piece of who we are, they are the results of many years of exploration, we grew up on those trails and our kids are running them.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 14657,14655,14658″ limit=”3″ target=”blank” width=”220″ height=”220″ title=”never” class=”galleria2″]
2.  Running means this

We believe that running is nothing more than a humble mean of transportation, we don’t care about calories, performance or heart rate, we are about traveling by foot. Our goal is to get running back to its origins as a mean of discovery.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 14696,14686,14718″ limit=”3″ target=”blank” width=”220″ height=”220″ title=”never” class=”galleria3″]

We believe we are social animals, we run as a team, different pace sometimes but no one is left behind. Humans are tribal, we are a tribe of adventure runners.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 14720,14694,14667″ limit=”3″ target=”blank” width=”220″ height=”220″ title=”never” class=”galleria4″]
3.  Respect, never feel entitled

We feel an immense amount of respect for the people who live in the jungles, beaches, mountains and deserts we run by. We believe those joining our adventures most have eyes to see and learn, people have different ways in different cultures we believe that’s pretty cool.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 14665,14671,14668″ limit=”3″ target=”blank” width=”220″ height=”220″ title=”never” class=”galleria11″]

So that’s why we use local families accommodations, because local people is the reason we run to those place.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 14762,14764,14731″ limit=”3″ target=”blank” width=”220″ height=”220″ title=”never” class=”galleria12″]
4.  Embrace the day

If the bar is open we have a beer, if there’s a waterfall we go for a swim, If someone offers tea we say yes.

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 14740,14555,14677″ limit=”3″ target=”blank” width=”220″ height=”220″ title=”never” class=”galleria13″]

We love food and wine and tea and coffee …

[su_custom_gallery source=”media: 14678,13801,14673,14672″ limit=”4″ target=”blank” width=”220″ height=”220″ title=”never” class=”galleria13″]



Why I Stopped Running Races

Is racing killing running true meaning?

How a former professional triathlete discovered his love of running after he quit racing

By Pablo Rodriguez

When I was a professional triathlete representing my home country of Costa Rica, I equated running to competition. Why would I run if not to prepare for the next race?

I never asked myself if I liked running; it was my job.

So after I quit professional sports, I stopped running. And with a new desk job, my life became sedentary.

In 2004, living in Spain, I decided to regain my health and some basic fitness by resuming running. But the only way I knew how to run was by training for a race.

After registering for the Budapest Half Marathon, I began running for the first time in years in Girona’s Devesa Park.

Fifteen days before the Budapest Half Marathon, I did a little “tune up” trail race, a 21 k.m. run up and down the mythical Mount Puigmal in the Pyrenees.

At the starting line that day, I knew I was good shape and felt my familiar, killer competitive instincts–which I hadn’t felt since my triathlon days–kick in.

When the starter’s gun sounded, I sprinted off the line, hammering uphill all the way to the 2,994-meter summit of Puigmal. I was totally focused, felt powerful an strong.

After cresting the summit and beginning my descent, a voice inside my mind began yelling, “Stop you idiot! You’re moving so fast you didn’t even notice the 20 mountain deer  jump in front of you!”

Feeling stupid, I slowed my pace, turned around and saw Puigmal’s summit towering above me. I yearned to run back so i could admire the views from its peak. In my rush to dominate the race, I had missed so much.

Isards pirineu
Isards pirineu

It wasn’t until many years later that I completely understood what happened that day.

I learned that was drives me is not the thrill of competition, but rather, the thrill of exploring this blue ball we live on the most natural, primal way I know how: on foot.

Now I sometimes  run up to the Puigmal, lay on the ground, being present and noticing details, I damn know all the names all the plants on it, I can identify all the mountains around it, I am in that place, and that’s what give meaning to my running.

Why are these the moments I feel most complete and truly happy and free? Is it just a huge overdose of endorphins? I don’t think so; it’s much more than that. I never felt any of it,  while racing.


[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_contact_info title=”Expeditions Leader”  ]Pablo Rodríguez[/vc_column][/vc_row]

I am a lucky man, my hobby is my job

I’m a lucky man, my hobby is my job, how did this happen is part of another story, but at this point in my life making my dreams come true is how I make a living.

This is what I dream about, connecting remote places by running, embracing whatever hints the journey presents, with no schedule neither expectations.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

What if I could …?

I’m driving by the Cerro de la Muerte in Costa Rica (Mountain of the Death) 3400m elevation and think, what if I could run from here to the Pacific, 100 km by jungle trails and then turn South all the way to Corcovado National Park another 130 km away?

I’m in Prades, France, the Canigo mountain stands in the south like a giant welcoming me to the Pyrenees. What if my legs could take me from there to my friend Quico’s hut in Cala S’Alguer in the Catalan Mediterranean coast 210 km away? should I visit Nuria or run straight south to Beget? Who would I meet? How would it look like? Is it possible?

I’m in Ait Ben Haddou, in Morocco, taking a picture of my kids crossing a bridge and I notice the Atlas Mountains behind the Kasbah. I start dreaming again, crossing those mountains from the North and run all the way to the Sahara Desert, who am I going to meet? How is it going to look like? Is it possible?

Answering those questions is what drive’s every time I go for a run.[/vc_column_text][mk_image src=”https://ml04dljauu3s.i.optimole.com/u2c56Ao-K3Lx16uN/w:auto/h:auto/q:auto/http://runtheworldadventures.com/wp54/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/FONDOPANTALLA11.jpg” image_width=”800″ image_height=”235″ crop=”true” lightbox=”false” frame_style=”simple” target=”_self” caption_location=”inside-image” align=”left” margin_bottom=”10″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/1″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

Looking for the right people.

When facing a place like the one above, and I mean, spending the night in a place like this, you could get different reactions, … “Do I really have to go to the bathroom there?” …” Well, I don’t like it but I can stand it because you know, that is what you get when you travel” and also the other type of reactions like, “I wouldn’t change a thing, this is such a privilege, can I sleep on the roof?”.

My friends Abdu Okioud, Sergio Sanchez, Oriol Batista,  Estaban Umaña, Siddhar Soto all pertain to the second group. We are a looking for more runners like us to make this adventures possible.

If you think you can take part of our expeditions, send me a message.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][mk_custom_box bg_color=”#f6f6f6″ bg_position=”left top” bg_repeat=”repeat” bg_stretch=”false” padding_vertical=”30″ padding_horizental=”20″ margin_bottom=”10″ min_height=”100″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]Pablo Rodriguez: https://www.facebook.com/pablo.RunningCostabrava[/vc_column_text][/mk_custom_box][/vc_column][/vc_row]



What do you do after being told you will never run again?


My doctor told me never to run again.  So what did I do?  I turned running into my job.

The Dangers of  a Sedentary Lifestyle

Working 10 hours a day in front of a computer with no physical activity led to a herniated disc in my back.

In 2007, after fighting against sciatica pain which left me with limited mobility, I  underwent surgery so I could at least walk without pain.

My doctor warned me that after surgery I would never run again (I hadn’t been running for years but always loved it), and that running would re-injure my back.

Despite the warning, I had the procedure. My recovery went well and, following my doctor’s instructions, I didn’t run for three years.

A Blessing in Disguise

During that time I was laid off from my job.

I had long thought about of creating a running-vacation business, but I couldn’t take the leap because my steady job assured a regular monthly salary, which was much appreciated with four children at home.

But after losing my job, I was finally free to pursue my dream job to lead running vacations in my home area of Costa Brava.

But I needed to be able to run again. So I went to the biggest sports store in Girona and purchased the best pair of running shoes available.

Amazingly, I ran just a few minutes a day with no back pain. I slowly increased my mileage to regain fitness in preparation of leading my hoped-for running clientele.

Day by day I explored  every corner of Costa Brava along the sun-kissed Mediterranean, from Girona to the French border.  My doctor was wrong! I was running pain-free for at least 20 kilometers a day.

Once the route was set and with a still-under-construction website, I opened the doors for business.  And soon our first runners arrived.

Running Vacations guide
Running guide Pablo Rodriguez didn’t let a broken back stop him from creating a running vacation company in Costa Brava, Spain.

A Pending Disaster?  Or Maybe Not…

However, my joy didn’t last long.

One day I awoke with the all-too-familiar leg pain. I panicked.

I knew exactly what it was, but couldn’t admit it to myself: my doctor was right.

His words echoed in my head: “Pablo, you will never run again. There is nothing between your discs. It is basically bone scratching bone.” I was paying the price for foolishly following my dream.

The pain made it physically impossible to be a running guide. I tried medicines, creams, hot and cold therapies, anything that came to my mind. But nothing worked. The pain persisted.

Yet, I had obligations to my running vacation clients.

About a week later I received an email from a client, Ulrich Jansen, an American businessman from California who was traveling from France to Valencia. He was looking for an artist to design new coffee cups for Starbucks. We were to meet the next day in Palamos to begin his running tour.

Pablo (in green shirt) leading a group of runners on day 2 out his 7 days adventure through the Costa Brava.

I stood up from my chair only to feel severe pain in my lower back and an aching from the top of my right leg to the end of my toes.

I feared that the business and my dream job was over before it even got going!

How Another Runner Saved My Back; And My Business

Still, I prepared to meet Ulrich for his running vacation of Costa Brava.

As we drove in his expensive rental car to the tour’s starting point, we talked about our shared love of running, though I had no idea if I could run a step.

As we exited the car, I noticed that Ulrich was wearing Luna sandals.

Concerned about his understanding of the trail ahead, I asked, “Excuse me, are you going to run in those?”

Ulrich then explained how running in sandals was the only relief for his back pain. And he proved it by gliding effortlessly over the rugged trail and loving every minute.

I had to know more! I was willing to do anything to get rid of my pain!

Ulrich preached the benefits of running without expensive big-brand sneakers. It was a revelation to me. At the run’s end he gave me his Luna sandals, which I started using that same afternoon when I went for a walk with my sons and wife. It felt great!

Today, five years after surgery and my doctor’s dire warning, I am able to run 30 kilometers per day without pain. My dream of using running as a means to show visitors my beautiful home region is now a thriving business.

And whenever I meet my clients for the first time, I get the same skeptical question that I once asked of Ulrich: “Excuse me, are you going to run with sandals?”

Pablo welcomes runners runners who use any kind of foot gear, though you know what he will be wearing!

Learn more about exploring Spain’s Costa Brava on foot with Pablo Rodriguez at:  runtheworldadventures.com/spain/

7 Ways A Running Vacation is Better Than a Destination Marathon

image (23)

Is traveling to another country to run a marathon the same thing as going on a running vacation?

We, the travel experts at Run the World Adventures, think not. As experienced runners who’ve run and raced in foreign countries across the globe, we believe that they are two very different types of travel experiences.

Here are the top seven ways a running vacation is different from a destination marathon.

running vacation italian dolomites
The running (and its rewards) begin right from day one when you’re on vacation.

1. It’s Not All About Race Day

When you travel to another country to run a marathon, your entire trip is focused having an optimal race experience. This may mean getting extra sleep before the race and resting in your hotel room so that your legs feel “fresh” for race day.
A running vacation, on the other hand, is not a one-day deal. You may run every day of your vacation if you want.

Many of the running vacations Run the World Adventures offers can be customized to you (or your group’s) running ability, endurance level and pace so you can feel comfortable and confident in your ability to meet the adventure ahead.

trail running africa
Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro Stage Run takes runners on trails few tourists ever see.

2. Avoid The Crowds 

Large marathons typically stick to main highways and byways that are wide enough to accommodate their runner masses. While you may catch glimpses of the city or destination’s most iconic landmarks, the view is fleeting and obscured by what you can see from your vantage point among the running hoards.

On a running vacation, it’s just you, your travel companions and a local guide. Since this is your vacation after all, if there’s some curious building, ancient ruin or striking landmark you want to stop and visit, then all you have to do is say so! The running routes offered by Run the World Adventures won’t be found in any guidebook. They have been custom-designed by running guides who know and run the less-frequented trails, pathways and roads that bypass the tourist-clogged beaten paths and take you to lesser-known, often more spectacular spots.

Run the World Adventures Guide Greg Jensen with a Guatemalan local woman in traditional garb.
Run the World Adventures Guide Greg Jensen with a Guatemalan local woman in traditional garb.

3. Experience the Local Culture

At a destination marathon, you surround yourself mostly with other international visitors, especially if you’re in a place where English is not the first language. Foreigners naturally gravitate to other foreigners because they’re having a shared experience (albeit from an outsider’s perspective) of a strange land.

However, with a running vacation, you spend the entire adventure in the company of a local, a fellow runner like yourself, but as someone indigenous to the local culture who gives you a unique insight into what it’s like to live in this foreign place.

Time means nothing when running through Iceland’s volcanic landscape.

4. No time restrictions

When running the marathon, you’re focus on maintaining the right pace for achieving your goal finishing time. Any interruptions to your carefully calculated splits is very stressful. What if you need a potty break, have a cramp or take a wrong turn?
With a running vacation, on the other hand, there is no time pressure. The time it takes to get from point A to point B is irrelevant to your enjoyment of the experience.

Instead of worrying about your time, run as a way to go sightseeing, unrestricted by time or detours. And if you do take a wrong turn, well, no problem; that only adds to the adventure!

swimming in costa brava
Runners take a dive in Costa Brava, Spain

5. Get Close to Nature

Most destination marathons are held in cities or other built environments that offer limited opportunities to come close to the natural environment. For example, if it’s hot on race day, you may cool off by running through sprinklers set up along the marathon route.
During a running vacation in hot climes, however, you refresh yourself with a dip in the ocean, a lake or glacial stream. If swimming in a natural body of water is something you rarely do back home, then there’s no better excuse to do something out of the ordinary than while you’re on vacation.

Runners dine like kings during their running vacation in Costa Brava, Spain.
Runners dine like kings during their running vacation in Costa Brava, Spain.

6. The feast never ends

At a destination marathon, you’re more careful about what you eat, wary about trying new foods or indulging in too much alcohol prior to race day.  It’s only once the marathon is done that you feel relaxed enough and adventurous enough to feast on the local cuisine.
On a running vacation, however, you can dig in to local dishes right from day one. Since eating the local food is an essential aspect to fully experiencing a foreign country, eating like a local is an essential aspect to immersing yourself in this new place.

Running friends making lasting memories at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

7. Have Afterglow instead of Aftermath

The post-marathon high soon gives way to the marathon aftermath, marked by aching feet, sore muscles and overall fatigue that may last for days, which puts a damper on the rest of your visit.  As a result, many marathoners don’t run at all or very little after race day.

On a running vacation, on the other hand, you’re running day after day, feeling stronger and more excited as each day passes. We call this the running vacation “afterglow.” Since the focus is on enjoying the process and environment, you wake up each morning fired up, curious and motivated about what the day’s adventure will bring.

Run vacationers often bring that afterglow home with them, and are more motivated than ever to make running a regular part of their lives back home.

What are you waiting for? Click here to browse our calendar of 2016 running vacations. 

Jane Lelean an inspirational success

 “I don’t know what I’m doing here, I hate running, I can’t stand it, I don’t know how to enjoy it”

We were all by the swimming pool at the beutiful 1901 Nord hotel in Girona, drinking Catalan Cava, and getting to know each other in the group.

To Gray Caws and I this was our a special moment, after 4 years of working together we got 11 runners for our Costa Brava Chi Running Adventure.

Gray asked to everyone, could each of you tell us a bit about yourselfs and about you think you are doing here, I will always remember Jane’s answer:  “I don’t know what I’m doing here, I hate running, I can’t stand it, I don’t know how to enjoy it”

I thought to myself, wow, how are we going to help her? Jane was a cheerful person, but her actitude was a bit negative, what happend in the next four days is hard to explain, I can just say that thanks to Costa Brava\’s trails, Gray Caws knowledge, group camaraderie, and her own will, Jane enjoyed running for the first time, that was something really nice to see.

Seeing transformations in people like Jane, over and over again, have made me change completly they way a see running, there is something special about it, may be is just that we happend to bi bipeds designed to run.

8 Reasons Why Iceland is the Ultimate Trail Running Destination

8 Reasons Why Iceland is the Ultimate Trail Running Destination

by Inga Fanney Sigurðardóttir</addr ess>Iceland is ideal for running, as the trails are plentiful and the scenery is spectacular. Running is a popular sport here and many people come from all over the world to enjoy Iceland’s pristine beauty and unique environment, shaped by ancient and current volcanic activity and other natural forces.

I took up trail running after starting a family and had less free time for hiking and spending time in the mountains of my Northern Icelandic home. Here are my top eight reasons why Iceland is an amazing trail running destination:

1. Temperatures are ideal for running.

2. Our water is uncontaminated and safe to drink anywhere.

Iceland tap water comes directly from the mountains and isn’t treated. And when you’re in the backcountry, it’s not necessary to purify the water before you drink; rather, you can safely drink directly from the streams along any running route.

Iceland’s environment is very clean and we even heat our houses with clean energy resources.

For example, most Iceland homes, swimming pools and greenhouses are heated with geothermal water pumped directly from underground, where it is naturally heated. As Icelanders, we take great pride in our eco-friendly practices and place great importance on protecting our island home’s vulnerable landscape, which is why we have three large national parks, one of which is Vatnajökull National Park, which covers 13% of the country and many protected areas and nature reserves.

3. Rejuvenating natural hot springs are abundant.


There is a lot of water in Iceland, and you may be surprised to learn that much of it is steaming hot. This is because one Iceland sits atop one the planet’s six geothermal “hot spots.”

The hot spot heats up all this water and gives us natural hot pools to soak in after our runs. The geothermal water comes directly from the earth and the ground underneath us to the surface, sometimes boiling hot.

In areas such as the Westfjords, Icelanders form small bathing pools from natural materials such as rocks and moss. The geothermal water bubbling up from underground is mineral rich and nourishing for the skin and body.

4. Explore truly untamed wilderness.

Very little of Iceland is inhabited by people. Which means that while trail running you, you rarely see any sign of human impact on the landscape.

One of our trail running tours takes us to Europe’s most powerful waterfall called Dettifoss. Other top trails for running take us around ancient or active volcanoes, such as Hekla, which erupts approximately every 10 years.

And one of Iceland’s most adventurous singletrack trails, Fimmvörðuháls, spans the distance between two glaciers covering two volcanoes, one of which erupted in 2010 and disrupted flight traffic around the world for days.

5. Iceland has no pests or predators.

It may sound like a dream to be able to run anywhere in a whole country without worry about mosquitoes, bears or rattlesnakes. But it is possible in Iceland.

Apart from the occasional small midge, there is no wildlife here that can bite you. While Mosquitoes lurk on both East and West coast of Greenland, Norway, the UK, they don’t settle in Iceland.

You can also have peace of mind there there are no ants cockroaches, snakes, bears or lions in our country.

6. No two running trails are alike. 

Every part of Iceland is different, thanks to being continuously pounded and shaped by nature’s most powerful forces including relentless winds, pounding waves, sputtering lava and powerful geysers. As glaciers scraping over the land and raging rivers cutting deep valleys, every part of the country has unique characteristics.

Enjoy the sound  of the trail running shoe hitting different surface, such as fresh lava from recent volcanic eruptions, pumice from older volcanic eruptions, snow that doesn’t melt in summer time, vegetation such as grass and moss that has managed to cover older terrain, stones and birch-tree branches and black-sand beaches.

7. 24 hours of daylight

Feel like running all day? In Iceland you can, thanks to the persistent daylight during the summer solstice. Or for the entire month of June, in fact.

Since you have all day –and all night– there’s no need to rush your pace. You know the feeling of being inspired on your run and you feel like running all day? Let the abundant daylight fuel adventurous runs during which you explore off trail and where ever your curiosity may take you.

8. Some of our running trails look like this:

randoms-16 (1).jpg

Starting planning your trail running vacation in Iceland now. Click here to find out more: www.RuntheWorldAdventures.com/iceland

Room for Competition on Guatemalan Running Adventure

A Father’s Day Race Ends in Victory

By Greg Jensen, owner of Mayan Running Adventures

“What do think about running a Father’s Day 10km race in Panajachel this Friday afternoon?” I ask my client, Todd.

I expected him to decline the offer. It was Monday morning and the start of a six-day running vacation for him and his wife, Joy in Guatemala. Over the ensuing days, we’d run 50 miles with almost 20,000 feet of elevation gain. It would mean a total of 20 hours on our feet between today and race day.

“Let’s do it!” Todd said. And with that, there was no changing his mind.

I had connected with Todd and Joy, who were from Boulder, Colorado, through Run the World Adventure’s Twitter feed, when they were seeking a running adventure and chose our all-inclusive trail running vacation at Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan.

As the owner of Mayan Running Adventure, I was their personal travel and running guide for the week.

Can the Foreigners Run?

The morning of the Father’s Day 10K race, we ran eight miles with 2600 feet of elevation gain. It was the sixth straight day of running amazing trails around Lake Atitlan, which we had sweeping view of its volcanoes. We ran through a remote village where we high-fived school kids as we ran by.

We then descended through terraced onion fields and along a hand-dug irrigation canal used for irrigation.

How One Runner Won a Bed in Guatemala - Run The World Adventures
The competition at the starting line

With that “warm up run”, we strolled to the 10k race’s starting line. Todd was tired. I was tired.

Looking around us at the start line, there were some good runners. The field was small, maybe 50 runners at most. The locals took this event seriously; runners traveled by public bus from up to three hours away to compete.

As the race’s only foreigners, Todd and I were like celebrities. Todd’s limited Spanish made the locals snicker.

Everybody was staring at us as thinking, “Can these guys really run?”

The gun went off and Todd took off with the leaders.

Having done no speed training for years, other than powering up volcanoes, I tucked into the pack at a comfortable pace. The course was three loops through town, over half of it on the cobblestone streets of Panajachel, a town in the southwestern Guatemalan Highlands, about 90 miles from Guatemala City.

I was feeling the effects of the week’s running and spent most of the race high-fiving people and hamming it up along the route.

Todd ran tough. He’s a competitive guy, and an experienced racer.

I finished somewhere between fourth and last. Todd finished fourth overall, and the first master (over 40 years of age). The crowds cheered the gringo. They were suprised that a foreigner had won the master’s race. And they didn’t know he had already run eight tiring miles that morning.

“Todd, you won a prize!” I shouted.

“That’s impossible, I finished fourth,” he said.

I told him they were giving prizes to the first three spots overall as well as the first three masters.

“What did I win?” he asked.

Todd was anticipating taking home a cool Guatemalan medal or maybe a trophy for the office.

“You won a bed!” I said. Guatemalans are nothing if not practical. What good are medals or trophies?

The first-place finishers each won a double bed. Second-place finishers a mountain bike, and third place finishers a wheelbarrow with hoe and shovel.

How One Runner Won a Bed in Guatemala - Run The World Adventures
Todd enjoying the spoils of his victory

Since Todd was flying home in the morning and had no need for a spare bed in Guatemala. He offered me the bed, though I told him we could really use the mountain bike.
We approached the second place winner and offered a trade: the more expensive first place bed in exchange for the mountain bike.

He hesitated because he had taken a 45-minute bus ride from his home to the race, and felt he could use the mountain bike. But after consulting with his wife, he agreed to the swap.

We helped him carry the bed to the bus station where they hoisted it atop the public bus.

My four sons gratefully accepts the gift of Todd’s mountain bike, while the Father’s Day 10K masters champion went home empty handed.

However, he did go home with a prize that’s better than a bed or a bike. He got to race alongside those Mayan Guatemalan men. Although they couldn’t communicate with words, they shared the love of running that day in Guatemala.

Learn more about a trail running vacation in Guatemala here: http://runtheworldadventures.com/guatemala/


200 Photos in 14 Miles: My Costa Brava Running Vacation

200 Photos in 14 Miles: My Costa Brava Running Vacation

Trip Report by Jojo Reuland, former SF Marathon Marketing Director

After a late night of food and wine in Barcelona, my friend and travel partner, Wendi and I reluctantly woke up early.

We were on a mission to catch an early train to Girona, where our running vacation would begin. The mission was simple, however, in our travel-induced scatterbrain state, we were seriously directionally challenged.

After getting turned around at least a dozen times, we finally boarded the right train. An hour later, we were greeted by Pablo Rodriguez, our tour guide for the next 4 days.


A Catalan Historical Tour

Our running vacation began with a scenic run through the little towns, learning key phrases in the local Catalán language and local customs. He worried we wouldn’t be up for running in the rain, but we assured him that a little bad weather wouldn’t keep us from the trails.

After about an hour of driving and sightseeing, we made it into the forest at the top of the hill where there was a beautiful medieval castle.

Running vacation, Costa Brava, Spain

Pablo gave us a crash course on the Garmin device that would navigate us through the route and bid us “adieu!”

The weather cleared up as we wandered through the singletrack and technical forest trails. We took it easy to loosen up my legs after Saturday’s race and adopting the tourist mindset now that our running vacation was in full swing. We took a wrong turn or two, but a few miles later, spotted Pablo with water and a smile on his face.

Pablo ran with us for a few miles before hopping back into the car to meet us at the next meeting point. We emerged from the forest to find ourselves into rural wine country area, complete with beautiful old Spanish houses and grapes.


We were already stopping every few minutes to snap photos, but we got really distracted when the trail spit us out at a beautiful beach and offering our first views of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s deep blue water, lush green trees dotting the cliffs, sandy beaches and little fishing boats bobbing in the harbors left us awe-struck.  

We continued running north along the stretch of Mediterranean coastline known as Costa Brava, following the GPS unit turn by turn until we got a call from Pablo. He had been tracking us on GPS and somehow had lost the connection, leaving him to wonder if the weird, directionally challenged girls from San Francisco had gotten lost.

Five minutes later, Pablo popped out of the bushes like a mountain lion.


Super Pablo to the Rescue

Pablo guided us back to the coast by some “calas” (or small beaches), little private nooks with rocks to hop over and stairs up and down connecting the single track to the beach.

We ran along the cliff, constantly climbing up or down, and of course ooh-ing and ahh-ing the whole way. Pablo asked for my phone with a  promised not to break it. With the phone-camera in hand, he ran circles around us, inexhaustibly snapping shots of us running up stairs and posing by the ocean.

At the bottom of one of the “calas” we spotted a distressed French woman with a large German Shepherd on a leash.

She asked  Pablo for help getting her scared 100-pound German Shepard up the rocky embankment. Despite the fact the Pablo and dog weight about the same, Pablo scooped up the huge dog and carried him up the hill.

The awe-struck woman stared in amazement and admiration, which was the same look we’d had all day!


Nearing the end of our 14-mile adventure run, we wove in and out of small beach towns. Each one was serene, with intricate architecture and only a few people lounging on the sand or at waterfront cafes.

Tired and hungry, we stopped at a cafe for lunch and examined all of Pablo’s on-the-fly photography.

We’d run for hours, but more impressively, we’d taken 200 photos, including shots of Pablo rescuing the pooch, which he said would earn him  superhero status with his kids.

Catalan Wine: The Ultimate Recovery Drink

The day wasn’t quite over, as Pablo had coordinated a wine tasting at a local winery. A friendly winemaker greeted us and walked us through the vineyard and winery, explaining in detail how the wines were made on her family owned and operated property.

We tasted a few reds which were all really flavorful and unique and learned a few more Catalan words and phrases.

I wanted so much to bottle up every step and moment to remember when I returned home.

We left with over 200 moments pictured and so much new knowledge that Pablo had taught us about this beautiful region of Spain.


Learn more about running vacations in Costa Brava, Spain and get in touch with Pablo by clicking here: www.runtheworldadventures.com/spain