One of the advantages to living in Morocco and being a runner is the awesome things I get to see and conversations I get to have while out on my runs (especially my long runs). I have seen all kinds of interesting/crazy things I do not think I would have ever seen had I not been a runner. For example, just the other day I was on a ten mile run, really close to Jma El Fna, the famous old square in Marakech. I was about to cross a road when I had to just stop and smile because right in front of me was a man on an ancient bike with a 7 foot tree resting on the rack on the back of his bike.
This is not by any means an isolated incident. A few months ago while out on another long run (this was a 20 miler in Rabat), I was stopping by a little convenience store (here it would be called a hanout) to buy a bottle of water. I often do my long runs in the middle of cities and because of this I do not carry my Camelbak since there are stores everywhere that I can buy water from. I only carry the water I need to last until it's late enough in the morning when stores begin to open. Back to the story, I stopped at a store and asked to buy a cold bottle of water. The owner gave me the water, I payed then turned to leave, and suddenly realized I no longer had the bottle. The man had taken the bottle back and was looking at me very concerned. After a moment of silence he asked me, "Are you running?" To which I said I was. He then explained to me as he walked out the front door that because I was hot if I were to drink cold water I would die or become very sick. When he returned to his store he had in his hand a bottle of water that had been sitting in the sun. After handing it to me he said, "that's better, now you will not be sick, go run." I knew better than to argue with this cultural belief and continued my run with a hot bottle of water.
Sights and conversations like these make running so much more exciting. I love running in the woods and on trails, in the country on wide open roads with clean air, but if I never ran in the city I would not get to have interesting conversations or receive encouragement from older men sitting on rocks watching the sunset near the ocean. I would not get to see snake charmers, four men on one moped, castles, city walls, and a culture so different from my own. I love running in the city and I love running in Morocco.