Running Down Under


I have a confession
to make. I’m a triathlete, and as such I embrace three sports with near equal
gusto. But I’ll admit, the one I love the most is running. I sometimes feel
that advocating one over the other in triathlon circles is akin to a parent
admitting favoritism among their children – but I can’t deny that my greatest
joy comes from running. Sure, I enjoy swimming and cycling, and I’d hate to
ever quit any of these three pursuits, but if forced to make a choice, running
would emerge the clear winner.

This Friday, I’ll
board a plane bound for Australia,
where I will compete in the Ironman
triathlon. The race takes place in the beautiful town of Port Macquarie, and one of the things
I’m looking forward to most is spending some t
ime on two feet traipsing the
coastal paths and neighborhoods of the town. I’ve heard its one of the most
scenic places to run in
and I can’t wait to see its beauty firsthand. I’ll get in a few final training
runs, and then of course have plenty of time to enjoy the sights and sounds
during the
. Oftentimes triathletes feel somewhat incoherent during that
final stage of the event, but for me it’s a time
when little details become
more poignant – the way a particular homeowner has decorated their yard, the
quirky accents and colorful phrases of the local residents cheering from the
sidelines, traffic signs that differ from our American norm, postcard-quality views
of the ocean where colors become brilliantly saturated.

There’s no better
way to get a real feel for another country and culture than to lace up and run
with eyes and ears wide open. And while traveling halfway across the world may
seem extravagant, airline price wars are making globe-trotting active adventures much
more affordable than you might think. I’m flying to
Sydneyon United for about as much as it would cost to fly
coast-to-coast in the U.S.
provides the short flight from Sydney to Port Macquarie, and
also offers phenomenal deals on travel from the states. Another relatively new
, has equally competitive prices on flights originating from Los Angeles.

Beyond running,
Port Macquarie has several unique institutions and activities that appeal to me
much more so than the usual touristy fare. Two must-dos on my list include a camel ride on the beach
and a visit to the
Koala Hospital (where native marsupials, oftentimes struck by cars, attacked by dogs or stricken by illness, are
nursed back to health). I’ll be sure to report on all the fun, and in
particular the running opportunities. Perhaps I’ll inspire you to pack up your
running shoes and passport and head off for an athletic adventure down under!