What's a 'Runcation?' Just Ask These Travelers Who Will Go Anywhere to Lace Up Their Sneakers

For many of us, a vacation isn’t worth taking unless it involves packing a pair of running shoes.

Athletes, some wearing colorful costumes, run past vineyards near Pauillac, during the 30th Marathon du Medoc
Racers taking part in the Marathon des Châteaux du Médoc, in France. Photo: Nicolas Tucat/AFP via Getty Images

Editor’s Note: Travel might be complicated right now, but use our inspirational trip ideas to plan ahead for your next bucket list adventure.

After flying from her home in Florida to Vancouver, runner Camille Kerr took the first of what she calls her “runcations” in 2013 for the Lululemon Seawheeze half-marathon. Since then, she and her girlfriends have built annual trips around running, jetting off to events like last year’s Bermuda Triangle Challenge.

“I’d been wanting to visit Bermuda for years, and I knew this event would give us a chance to explore the island,” Kerr says of the three-day series. “Between races we shopped, hung out, and met runners from all over the world.” The Challenge, which drew just 35 foreign runners at its inaugural event in 2008, lured more than 700 international participants this January.

Other destinations have seen a similar surge in interest. “People are more health-conscious than ever, and they’re seeking destinations that can cater to their needs,” says Eusi Skeete, acting director of Barbados Tourism’s U.S. office. The island’s five-race Run Barbados Marathon Weekend in December drew entrants from 30 countries, including Australia.

The company Marathon Tours & Travel has also seen the trend take off. “Running is just the catalyst to get you to a destination,” says CEO and founder Thom Gilligan. “After the race, you can really explore.” His firm helps arrange running trips, watching public health advisories, and securing entry to events that are notoriously hard to get into, including marathons in London and New York City.

Less competitive contests put the focus squarely on the destination: The Blackmores Sydney Running Festival, with a marathon, half-marathon, and 10K, takes runners across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Jamaica’s Reggae Marathon has live music along the course plus a finishers’ party on Negril Beach. Le Marathon des Châteaux du Médoc, in Bordeaux, France, passes through several vineyards — and even has oyster and wine stops along the way.

A version of this story first appeared in the July 2020 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline Off to the Races.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles