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Races in paradise that you’ll go the distance for.
By Erin Christman
Looking for a way to amp up your exercise routine? Consider combining your vacation with an in-destination triathlon, a marathon or fun run so you have a tangible goal and reward, all in one package. In other words, think racecation. “Training for a race gets me active before my vacations, and keeps me active during it,” says Alyssa Feuerer, who has done three racecations in Hawaii and elsewhere.
The original racecation—definitely not for those faint of heart—is the Hawaii Ironman World Championship in October, where elite athletes tackle the challenge of a combined 140-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.6-mile run on the Big Island that starts and ends at The Fairmont Orchid resort. Since the original Ironman in 1978, ultra and Olympic distance triathlons—along with shorter races aimed at recreational athletes—have sprung up around the globe. Two of the more popular Ironman challenges are held annually in Los Cabos and in St. Croix, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Swim in the “Aquarium of the World” in Los Cabos, or challenge yourself on the St. Croix bike course nicknamed “The Beast.”
For a more attainable goal in the same stunning setting, St. Croix also hosts a sprint distance triathlon (half-mile swim, 12-mile bike and 3.1-mile run) each March. Nearby St. John hosts 8 Tuff Miles each February, a run that starts on the west side of the island, rises to an elevation of 999 feet and ends back down on sea level in Coral Bay.
Another popular Caribbean racecation is Jamaica’s Reggae Marathon, which also includes a half-marathon and 10K) in December. The race kicks off with Rastafarian drums instead of starting gun, and winners receive sculptures of Bob Marley and Rita Marley in lieu of medals. Starting in Negril, the course is mostly flat and filled with inspiring scenery.
Races often route past the top sights, as well as hidden gems you wouldn’t normally see as a regular tourist. Feuerer says they’re “a great way to explore on foot and take in all the scenery.”
Be sure to arrive a few days before your race to acclimate to the local conditions, and stay for at least a few days afterward to relax and reward yourself. You will have earned it! For more advice on setting fitness goals and keeping them while on vacation, be sure to check out David Pritchard’s monthly wellness column.