Running Paradise

The first thing I do when I travel these days is to research popular running spots in that city or town. The next thing I do is to ask the hotel front-desk about local running routes. At the Marriott (Pune, Ahmedabad), I have received blank looks while at The Claridges in Delhi they actually have printed running routes in the room (the Marriott and other similar chains really need to address this issue). I again got a blank look earlier this week when I asked the same question at the Cape Royale, a hotel near the Cape Town waterfront.

I have also started defining cities by how runner friendly they are. For example, the area around The Claridges in New Delhi with wide, firm, non-potholed roads and virtually no traffic in the morning is terrific for running. Pune around the Pune Marriott is not a bad place as well, if you run towards the Commerce College in the mornings. I have even found a 1 km dirt trail into the Vetal hill.

Mumbai is still a difficult city to find good stretches of road to run on but last weekend I found one more nice place (another is the Mahul road). I drove down to the Bandra-Kurla complex…the main road from the highway up to the LBS Marg is a good 3.3 km run that is worth the effort. The roads again are firm and non-potholed and a pleasure to run on early in the morning. There are other side roads that are equally good and you can easily do a 10 or 16K within BKC.

So why did I get a quizzical look in the Cape Town hotel when I asked about a running route?

Because Capetonians run all the time, at any time of the day, anywhere and everywhere. In my 3 days there, I found people running on the pavements in the city, on the roads going up to Table Mountain and Signal Hill and on the beach promenade. The pavements are straight and tiled with not one hole or furrow that can throw you off. People run before sunrise, at noon, around sunset…unlike in Mumbai or Pune or Delhi, where we can only run in the mornings or evenings, around sunrise or sunset. This makes a huge difference.

As do the temperatures. Even at noon, it doesn’t go beyond 25 degrees. I ran twice on the beach promenade near the waterfront, once around sunrise and once at 4PM and at both times, I didn’t break into a sweat even once. In Mumbai, I need to start drinking water after the first 20 minutes or so. Here I didn’t need to drink anything for the entire length of the run. And the morning run, into the sunrise, the Atlantic ocean to my left, a cool breeze blowing across me…what better heaven can you ask for!

As I asked around, I found out that South Africans in general are running crazy. And no one will look at you weirdly if you run in the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of downtown, during your lunch break (try doing something like this in Mumbai or Delhi).

So seriously! If you are one of the hordes of tourists invading South Africa this summer, and have any pretensions to running or brisk walking…pack a pair of shoes and get up early and hit the pavement, before the bus hoots its hurried reminder.

And I finally realized what a difference, low temperatures can make. For the first time in my life, I cracked an under 1 hour 10K!


  • During the sixties….when I was a kid….I used to run on Adenwala Road and around Five Gardens…early in the morning…pure bliss.

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Jaggu…morning times Adenwala road is fine but not the Five Gardens anymore.

  • Sriganesh wrote:

    Did you try Aarey Milk Colony? I walk on Sunday mornings and I see lot of guys running along Aarey guest house and Newzeland hostel. Road is not high quality but the reserved forest area is real fun especially during monsoon.

    Try it out!

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Sriganesh – that’s my next place to try out.

  • Pushpendra Shah wrote:

    Aha – so you are in AFRIKA – ! Any chance that you are going to be in Nairobi, Kenya?
    Here there may be plenty of reason to run, especially if there is someone chasing you !
    But seriously though, running here is done in clubs, on the grounds, rather than on the streets… And there is a small forest just outside Nairobi… Do look me up when you get here !

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Will be running in Nairobi – am there 19-21 June for a conference.

  • Ravi Gadiyar wrote:

    The above note written by Pushpendra Shah has rightly described the scenario in Nairobi.The cricket grounds are not only Green Blaize but majestic as well.The members are very proud to have a walk or a jog in the low temperature. I being one of the pro.for Sir Ali Muslim Club decades ago found it very much exciting to not only play but also do the regular physical training with my cricket mates.No wonder marathoners come from this continent.Great place to RUN JOG RUN.

  • M R Sundaram wrote:

    In amchi Mumbai too, we run daily in the morning to catch our 08.30 or 0915 suburban trains! 🙂

  • For some absurd reason the first thing that people in India ask when they see you running is “kya hua?? doctors advise?”…. rarely is it accepted that someone might actually be enjoying it. I used to run around 10k dialy for a few days in the winters now it’s a good day when one manages 8km… the funny part is that of the hundred odd people on the road/jogging track I might see roughly five running and of these five people exactly five are obese! They will huff and puff for about 10meters then disintegrate only to pick up pace when they see someone else running….. well at least they try the others give up saying “paagal hai kya knees barbaad ho jayegaa”.

    About places to run, you should come to Navi Mumbai sometime. There are a couple of hill roads which are decent, there’s a road that disintegrates into a perfect trail on forest land in the mangroves which is decent as well, there’s a 2.5Km jogging track opposite Fortis Hospital Vashi which is almost good except for a bit of stench, and then there is the shoulder/service roads off Palm Beach Road (around 20km of blissful uninterrupted running if done at the right time of day… otherwise highly dangerous)….

    An under one hour 10km is amazing I think the best I’ve managed was 1hour 13 minutes for 9.96km otherwise it usually comes up in 1hr 25minutes, and this was in the beautiful winters we had this time around. Yesterday I did 9.95km in around 1.5 hours but it included a couple of 5 minute stopovers so yeah around 1hr 20 minutes is where one is now….

    How do you manage in the rains in Mumbai? I usually end up on the treadmill which is not as fun as out there.

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