As I mentioned before, running in big cities is always interesting. Dodging traffic when crossing busy intersections, avoiding unaware pedestrians, while trying to maintain a certain pace / heart-rate and keeping a keen awareness for hidden dangers that may threaten to twist your ankle.
That said, city running is also just as rewarding in its own right. I spent some considerable time in Rabat, Morocco and found that although my marathon training long runs took me to the heart of the city, through the old Souq, past parliament, and other amazing sites there were other times that I just wanted an easier, safer path or just something with a little less traffic. So, here I want to present to you, in a three part series, three of the best places to run the next time you are visiting the beautiful city of Rabat.
First up is a park close to the center of town, the Hilton Forest.
Name: The Hilton Forest.
Official Name: Forêt Hilton
Location: Agdel, Rabat (Close to the neighborhood Souissi)
Points of Interest:
- Close to the city center (10 mins from the market)
- Easy to get to by taxi
- There is parking if you have a car
- Wide dirt trails
- Main loop is about 1.75 miles (2.8km)
This is a small plot of wooded land right in the middle of Rabat. The forest, think large park, has wide (maybe ten feet wide in some places), well packed dirt trails. The main loop is about 1.75 miles and there is also a smaller loop that is in the center with trails leading off in all kinds of directions. The whole park is fenced in and has gardeners working all day long keeping the forest groomed. There has been security every time I have been there.
I have never been to the park when there were not a good number of people there, both men and women running in groups and alone. There are fast runners, slow walkers, and parents pushing their children in strollers. When I have intervals to do and I am in Rabat this is the perfect place because its almost flat and I never need to watch out for cars or other dangers associated with typical running in cities.
Also, one of the nice things about this park is that there is a cafe inside the park, near the entrance by the Sofitel Hotel. This is important because although Rabat, and really all of Morocco, has an abundance of little stores and cafes to buy water from, where the park is there aren't any. That little cafe has come in handy more than once. I don't know when the cafe is open or closed so I would only rely on it as a back up option for your water needs.
If you are staying anywhere in Rabat the easiest way to get to the park is to catch a little blue taxi. Ask the driver to take you to the Sofitel Hotel. This is one of the most prestigious hotels in all the city (all the famous foreigners that I have heard of visiting, stay there) and it overlooks the forest. Anyways, once you arrive, if you stand facing the front of the hotel the forest is on your right. Just walk / run through the park gate and have fun.
Map of the forest from maps.google.com
This concludes the Best Places to Run in Rabat Part 1. Make sure to look for the next two installments. Rabat is a wonderful city to visit with lots of amazing sights, museums, restaurants and other things to do. If you don't have time to go for a run on your next visit or forgot your running shoes, make sure you at least get out and explore. If you know of another good running place or have any questions about something I have mentioned just leave a comment and I will try to give you an answer.