The idea of running while on vacation may sound ridiculous to some, but the team behind City Running Tours has managed to make it fun for tourists wanting a unique way to learn about a city.
Since 2005 City Running Tours has been offering guided and personalized group running tours in most major cities like Boston, New York City, Chicago and Seattle. Last February City Running Tours made its debut in Austin under the direction of Lee Ackerley, a runner and Texas native who got involved with the group while a student at Boston University.
"When I got to Austin I realized this was the perfect city for this kind of tour," Ackerley said. "Plus, this is my way to get away from the corporate culture, meet people from out of town and have fun on the weekends."
"I pick out the juiciest parts because I don't want people to feel like I'm giving them a history lecture while they're running. I want people to have fun and distract them from the fact that they're running in intense heat."
Ackerley is originally from Houston and had some basic knowledge of Texas and Austin thanks to his 3rd grade Texas History class and Wikipedia. But Ackerley knew he had to dig deep if he was going to become a source of Austin and Texas history for visitors.
"I started buying a bunch of books and found an endless amount of information about the city," Ackerley said. "I pick out the juiciest parts because I don't want people to feel like I'm giving them a history lecture while they're running. I want people to have fun and distract them from the fact that they're running in intense heat."
City Running Tours offers various tours in Austin starting at $25 a person. The Downtown Austin Historic 5k Run is one of the most popular. It starts at the Texas Running Company on 5th Street and continues along portions of Lady Bird Lake, Congress Avenue and along the Capitol with several mini history lessons throughout.
While the tours are ideal for tourists, people who have lived in Austin for years stand to gain some knowledge too. While on a tour with Ackerley I learned the exact location of the Treaty Oak and the story behind Angelina Aberly and her cannon -- two famous bits of Austin history I vaguely knew but now fully understand.
The guides tailor the tours to the fitness level of each group. Guides will run as fast or as slow as the participants want. They will stop along the way to give their spiel or run straight through. You will be amazed at how well these runners can run and talk.
Along with the Downtown Austin History 5k run there is also a Scenic Parks 10k run and a Austin Music 5k run. A Beer Run showcasing local brews is in the works.
While it may not be the most relaxing tour, City Running Tours offers a unique way to take in the Capitol City and get a workout in at the same time -- a perfect way to experience a city that prides itself on being fit.
For dates and times of upcoming City Running Tours, click here.