Run During COP22 2016 in Marrakech

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  Marrakech is currently hosting the 2016 UN Climate Change Conference, COP22. The city is packed with guests and visitors from all over the world. Over the last week we have really enjoyed being able to run with many of the guests visiting Marrakech for the conference. Running tours are always a fun green way of getting to know a new city. 

  Conferences are always a great way to get some walking in but if you're still in town and want to really stretch your legs while seeing the city in a unique way, look into joining us for one of our runs. We offer runs of 5k, 10k, 13k, and more. You can see all we offer here on our tours page.

 To register simply fill out our registration form and we will get back to you very soon.

  We hope everyone here for COP22 has enjoyed their time in Marrakech and will come back for another visit. 

Posted on November 14, 2016 and filed under Running Tours, News.

Get a Customized Video of Your Run

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   Running while on vacation is one of my favorite things to do. The moment my wife and I decide on where we will be going I begin looking online for how I will be able to run to all the best places.

  After I get back from my runs I immediately post pictures of my runs to the internet and show my friends and family a few of the pictures as well but I often wish that I could also let them see a little more of the awesome places I got to run, like maybe through a video of my run. But at the time I'm usually too busy taking everything in to think about recording much video in addition to the many pictures I take for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts.

  That is why we are now offering to make a customized video of your run in Marrakech for you. This way you can not only enjoy your run during your visit but for long afterwards as well. We will take video and pictures throughout your guided run with us and a few days later you will receive a link to download the HD video recap of you run in Marrakech, great for posting to YouTube or Facebook.

  The cost for this additional offer is only 150dh (15 euro) added to the total cost of your run. And if you're planning on running multiple times with us during your stay we will, for the same price, include video and pictures from all of your runs.

  We are excited about the chance to offer such a unique souvenir from your time running here in Morocco. All you need to do to request a video of your run is to make sure and check yes to the video option when filling out the registration form.

You can check out an example video here or below from a recent 13k run.  

Posted on November 8, 2016 and filed under Videos, Running Tours.

What Should Women Wear When Running in Morocco?

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   "I'm coming to Morocco next week and don't know what is okay for me to wear as a women, any advice?

  Well, there's no need to wonder any longer. Here is some advice to help you in deciding what to wear while running in Morocco.

  In all the time I have lived here I have never heard about a rule dictating what females can or can't wear while running in Morocco.  Every year Marrakech holds a marathon and the clothing that the women runners wear is always very diverse. There are ladies wearing full track suits with head coverings and others in shorts or capri pants or tights and t-shirts or tank tops. I do see women wearing shorts while running and often out of respect for the culture their shorts are not really short and tight.

  While we recommend that you wear what is comfortable to you it is also wise to respect the culture as well. Shorts or capries/tights and a running t-shirt are more than appropriate. If you were running outside of a big city, like in a village or countryside, it would likely be wise to wear pants but here in the city, like (Marrakech, Casablanca, Rabat, etc.) it would not be a necessity. Remember, Marrakech is full of tourists so there is a wide range of how people dress here.

   This advice comes from our experience living here and observing others. Like I said before there are no rules or laws dictating how to dress while running in Morocco so this post is just the advice I give to people whenever I am asked by people signing up for one of our guided runs through the city of Marrakech.

  Signing up for one of our running tours is a great way to get out for a run on your next holiday in Marrakech. Whether you're looking for someone to just show you around for your first run or for a running partner for your entire time in Marrakech we have the runs for you. Pick your distance(s) and let us plan your runs. All of our guides live here and know their way around both the city and the culture, which enables you to be able to relax and just enjoy your run. Check out what kinds of runs we offer here and you can register here.

   Now pack your running clothes and plan to run while in Morocco.

Posted on October 18, 2016 and filed under Tips, FAQ.

Is it Safe to Run in Morocco?

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  People often like to ask me questions like, "Is it safe to run in Morocco?" "Isn't it scary to run in a foreign country?" "Isn't running there dangerous?"

  If you were to do a quick Google search on this topic you might get the idea that running/jogging is a rare thing in Morocco and that you might be the only one out there or that if you are female runner it might be dangerous. When I first visited Morocco I was nervous about running here because of how different a place I thought it was. But as I have learned, in my time living here is that's just not quite the truth. Just like a lot of other countries running is common (and getting more so) here. In some cities it is more popular than others, such as in Marrakech, Casablanca, or Rabat you will probably see more runners than you will see in villages or rural areas, but this is often true of anywhere.

  So, back to the question, "Is it safe to run in Morocco?" Just like running in anywhere, running here can have some inherent risk associated with it. Twisted ankles, traffic, crowded streets, pollution, local cultural differences, and weather are all things that need to be taken into account. But for the most part if you run against the traffic and use common sense, running in Morocco is safe. I think that part of the apprehension a lot of people may have is because the culture and language are so different from what they are used to. The unknown can be scary and being somewhere where you feel so out of place can be intimidating. But the unknown doesn't equal danger. 

    Now that I have said several times that it is safe, what about the claims that it is not safe. The truth is that everyone is going to have different experiences, some good and some bad. I've heard stories about women having men yell out to them and harass them while running but things like that will happen in NYC's Central Park or in London (I've also had people call out at me in the USA, Spain, Italy and in Morocco), it's not right but it happens everywhere. My experience, the experience of my wife, and many of my friends, who run here, are good ones. We try not to run during rush hour or at the hottest part of the day, nor do we run late at night. We dress respectfully (I do where shorts and so do some of the women i know, others wear 3/4 pants)... (this could be a whole post on its own... and probably will be) and my wife runs with friends. From this blog you can see that I have run in many different places and at different times in Morocco and safety has rarely ever been a problem for me. Morocco's government works hard to make it's country a safe place to visit.

  My goal here is not to try and convince you that Morocco is the safest place on Earth to run or that nothing has or ever will happen to a runner. Rather, it is to encourage you to take a chance and not put off one of your passions or hobbies you enjoy while on holiday in Morocco because you heard some stories. Pack your shoes and running kit the next time you plan a trip to Morocco. Be smart about it, run with a friend if you want or one of our coaches, tell someone where you're going and take money for a taxi back (just in case), but enjoy running in one of the most beautiful places on earth and take in the country in a way few foreigners get to see it.

  Our running tours offer a great way to get out there for a safe run with someone who knows the area and runs here almost every day. They know the area's best for running and the best sights to see. Also, as you'll be running with someone who lives here there is the added bonus of getting to hear about Morocco from a different perspective. When you book a run with us you will be able to forget some of those worries about running alone and just enjoy your run. You can see the kinds of runs we offer here and you can register here.

  Now plan your trip and get out there and run.

Posted on October 3, 2016 and filed under FAQ, Tips.

The 2015 Morocco Race 65k Race Report

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  This past November I ran the first edition of the Morocco Race 65km Ultra Marathon. While this wasn't the first ultra race I had ever ran, it was my first in Morocco so I wasn't sure what to expect. 

  Before I get into my race report let me just say that I wasn't expecting to run an ultra last year. I had been training for the 2015 Casablanca Marathon and was surprised one afternoon when my wife told that she had found a new race online and it was going to be only a month after finishing the Casablanca race. Realizing that even though there would be enough time to recover (sort of) but not really enough to retrain for the extra distance, I went ahead and registered. It also helped that the start and finish of the race were only about 45 minutes from Marrakech where I live. 

  Registration was simple enough. They offered online registration for anyone coming in from out of country or for those of us who live locally we were able to register at the new Decathlon sports store right here in Marrakech. I filled out the paper, paid the entry fee and that was it. The only other thing they needed was a doctor's release form saying I was ok to run a long race. 

  All that was left for me was to run the Casablanca Marathon and not get injured. 

Pre-race and check-in

 This is the registration area as well as the start and finish area for the race

This is the registration area as well as the start and finish area for the race

  The day before the Morocco Race my family and I drove up to Teres Armanar. It's a hotel/events/zip line/retreat center located at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and also was playing host to the start and finish area for the race. We had booked a room online and once we got there we were very pleased with the quality of the room. In fact I was impressed many times during our stay at the quality of the place. 

  Next was check-in for the race, which again was super simple as the total number of runners was quite small. I got my race number and a bag with some swag in it. Then it was off to bed. 

The Race

 The fire to warm up at was a nice touch for the 5am start

The fire to warm up at was a nice touch for the 5am start

  The 65km event was set to begin at 5:30am, so after getting ready and having a small breakfast I headed to the starting line. After introductions and some pictures the race was off just a few minutes after the planned starting time. The first hour of the run was in the complete darkness with the only light coming from the headlamps we were all wearing. 

 One of the beautiful views during the race

One of the beautiful views during the race

  If I had had any apprehension that this was going to be an easy run that was all taken away very early. While not crazy steep the trail pretty much was nothing but climbing around 1,800 feet in just the first hour.  In fact by just four hours in I had climbed more than 3,600 feet with very little decent and reached the second highest peak of the race at 7,246 feet. I came to the highest point only an hour later at 7,311ft.

  However, for the majority of the race one of my unfounded worries was about getting lost. Out in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains there may not be a lot of people but there are a lot of trails made by shepherds and their animals. Thankfully, the race course was actually rather well marked. The race organizers used a mixture of bright orange spay paint and flags on trees to mark the way. I only missed one turn, because I was messing with my pack, and got back on track relatively quickly. There was only one place where myself and another runner were unsure of and that was because there were some markings from another race. 

 This was one of the best aid stations during the entire race

This was one of the best aid stations during the entire race

  After climbing for the first four+ hours I came to the first big aid station and took about seven minutes to sit down and refuel. Many of the aid stations just had water, juice, and a selection of dates and bananas, but every few ended up being very well stocked with soup, Moroccan cakes, Coca-Cola, Nutella, fruit, and more. 

  The second half of the Morocco Race, while being mostly downhill still had some massive climbs in it which coming in the second half the race really wiped me out. Since I hadn't really been training in the mountains, that really did me in. By the last four miles I was exhausted. I would manage to jog on some of the downhills and a few of the flat parts of the trail (very rare) but was moving very slowly on the final up-hill climb. 

 Getting my finishers metal after crossing the finish line

Getting my finishers metal after crossing the finish line

  Thankfully the final stretch of the race is all down hill coming into the finish area. This was nice because as I came back into the hotel area I was actually "running" and was able to cross the finish line running with my 4 year old son. My final time 10 hours and 48 minutes with my Garmin saying a total elevation gain of 12,877 feet. 

Final Thoughts

 One of the many mountain villages we passed through during the race

One of the many mountain villages we passed through during the race

  The trails that the Morocco Race took us out on were amazing. I have spent some time in the Atlas before but the views I got during this race were almost unmatched. We ran through villages, forests, bare Rocky Mountain tops, past flocks of sheep and goats, and saw glimpses of the tallest peaks in North Africa. This is definitely a race I will be running again in the future. 

  One note about gear. I would highly recommend that whatever shoes you choose to run in rate well on rough rocky terrain. Much of the trail is covered by pointed rocks that can wreak havoc on a runners feet. 

Posted on September 20, 2016 and filed under Race Reports.