I was talking to Cécile on the weekend about a couple of races I would like to run in the next couple of years. They are sort of ‘bucket list’ races for me and, no, they aren’t Western States or Hardrock or UTMB. i’m not an elite runner and while I seem to have some talent for running longer distances there is a fairly big gap between me and the people who run those sorts of races.

Instead, the couple of races that I have read about and that I think could be great experiences are the sorts of races (or runs) that would take me somewhere I wanted to go and let me run when I got there.

The first is the wonderfully named Great New York 100 Mile Running Exposition . It’s a 100 mile run around New York City and hitting all sorts of wonderful trails, streets, paths, and parks along the way. According to the organizers:

The Great New York 100 Mile/100KM Running Exposition is an informal, small, low-key event that nevertheless promises to be an unforgettable running experience. It is an urban adventure, a running tour of New York City, beginning and ending in Times Square.

I first visited New York nearly 20 years ago and I wasn’t a fan right away. It seemed to big and too busy for someone from small town Western Australia and I quickly made my way north to the more relaxed surrounds of Connecticut. Over the years that followed, though, I visited New York a few more times and came to know it better and like it a lot more. To be able to return, do a great long run, and explore even more of Gotham would be amazing.

The second is the Berlin Wall Race. This one is a little closer to home but still comes out at 100 miles. What makes the race special in my eyes is its link to history. As the organizers put it:

There is hardly any ultramarathon with such a close relationship to the younger German history. This is because the Wall Race leads along the former inner-German border, 100 miles around western Berlin. There will be hundreds of runners from all over the world, running where once the Wall stretched for miles, in an athletic commemoration of the separation of Berlin and its victims in the years between 1961 and 1989. The finisher medal will again show the portrait of someone who lost his or her life in an attempt to vanquish the barbed wire and concrete.

As someone who grew up at the end of the Cold War and who spent a lot of time studying  international politics in general and Cold War politics in particular, the chance to run the Berlin Wall would be amazing.

Of course, the good thing about both of these races is that the courses are open to the public and close to two of the biggest cities in the world. That is to say that, were I to miss out on a place at the Berlin Wall Race, I could still get to Berlin and run the Berlin Wall path on my own. Similarly, if I got to New York and wanted to explore the city, I could easily take in part of the route there, too.

Yet while I don’t mind long runs on my own – the Thames Path run I have planned for September this year is in that vein – but there’s something about running a long way with others that makes ultrarunning extra fun.

So: 2017 in New York or Berlin? Here’s hoping!

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