I was able to travel to Fes this past week and spend a few days hanging out with some friends, so it went without saying that I would try to get a few runs in.
Fes is one of five largest cities in Morocco and has a very interesting history. Being that it is such a large city there are a great number of options of where to run. My first of two runs was just a simple run around my friends' neighborhood which was nothing more than a change of scenery for me. My second run had been part of my motivation to get to Fes for a long time, the old city. I love running around Morocco's old cities; Rabat, Essaouira, Marrakech, and now Fes. For me there is something about them that draws me in, I don't know if it's the history (I am a huge history buff), the culture that these old cities have, or just the enjoyment of being able to say I ran in such an awesome place.
After getting the car parked near the main city gate, Bab Boujloud, we set off on our run. Now, even though my friend has lived in Fes for a few months this was his and his wife's first time to run around the city as well, so we really weren't 100% sure of how to accomplish our goal as we took off.
The route we took ended up not being that difficult for the most part. We just kept the city wall on our right and went where the roads took us. The bigest differance I noticed between Fes and most of the other cities I've run in is the hills. In places like Rabat there are a few hills, but in Marrakech not so much. In fact, in Marrakech you have to try and find a hill to run on, but that's not the case in Fes. The walled part of the old city of Fes is more or less situated between two giant hills and the roads around them go up and down these hills depending on where the walls were built.
To make the run easier about halfway into the it (about 3 miles) we cut through part of the old city to shave off about a mile and a half from the total. This was the only time during the entire run that we had to deal with traffic. Most of the roads along the walls have large sidewalks or the road was wide enough that there wasn't an issue running on them.
Then we reached the best part of the entire run. About 4-5 miles into our run we came to one of the highest points on the road around the city and we had an awesome unobstructed panoramic view of the entire old city. It really makes the whole run worth it to get to see the ancient city from there.
The rest of the run from then until we reached Bab Boujloud, where we parked, was rather uneventful. Other that a massive final hill that must be climbed just before re-entering the old city. After running in Marrakech almost exclusively for the last year, again which is almost completely flat, this hill felt like I was climbing a mountain. However, I put on a stoic face only stopping to take "pictures," I was running with a friend so I had to look like it didn't bother me.
Once we made it back to Bab Boujloud it was all over and I can now say that I have run around the walls of another of Morocco's famed old cities. If you have plans on being in Fes for an upcoming holiday make sure to plan on running while there. While I wouldn't recommend running within the walls of the city, on the narrow and crowded streets (I recommend not doing this in any of the old cities), I do think you shouldn't pass up the opportunity.
One last note about my run in Fes. I ran with a friend and that's something I'd recommend if you plan to do a similar run. While I never felt unsafe during the run sometimes the road would go away from the city and the there just weren't a lot of people around some of the time (other that traffic). Also, in a few places there just wasn't a great deal of shoulder to the road (note the picture above). It's just always better to run with someone else for safety especially when you're in a new place.
Have you ever run in Fes or know of another great running location in the city? Let us know in the comments below, then get running.