Interview with Jenny from Runner’s World Magazine
While the rest of the U.S. is going wild over March Maddness and Peyton Manning retiring, runners are checking their emails to see if they got into the NYC Marathon lottery.
For those who were sadly not picked, you still have an option when it comes to a destination run.
We met up with Jenny Hadfield, Runner’s World columnist and co-founder of The Running Cruise to find out how she finds the most exotic running routes, what her secret must-pack item is, and the best sneakers to wear for destination runs.
Lauramay LaChance with Onboard.com (Onboard.com): Why did you decide to create a 7-day running cruise instead of just a 5K?
Jenny Hadfield (JH): As a kid my parents took me on cruises, and we always had a blast. There’s a real value to cruising; it’s like Spanish tapas — you get to try so much rather than just committing to one thing. So I wanted to find a way to blend the cruise experience with running.
My husband and I started our first running cruise in Alaska. We worked with the locals. And over the years we have learned that the locals are the ones that really make it possible. Now we have running cruises in Alaska, the Caribbean and our newest one in South France.
Onboard.com: What is the biggest challenge about running on a cruise ship?
JH: (laughs) When we first started we were working with Holland America. And those were the days when cruise ships had signs on the teak deck, “No Running On Track.” It took us years before we were officially allowed to run on the ship. It’s difficult to imagine that now when we’re running laps around the track decked out in our glow-in-the-dark lights and gear.
Onboard.com: What’s the average number of participants you have for the cruises?
JH: We limit it to 150 people for a few reasons. First, we really provide our participants with a boutique running experience, unlike many of the races going on now where there are thousands of participants. Also, when we keep it smaller we’re able to run in a lot more unique places and we won’t overwhelm the locals with our group.
Onboard.com: What’s your must-pack item?
JH: Almost all ships have laundry facilities, but you should bring Woolite or some kind of sport wash so you can hand-wash your active wear. Your clothes get stinky fast, especially in the Caribbean. Also, bring your GPS watch for the port runs. It won’t work properly on the ship due to the fact that you’re running on a moving ship, but it will be helpful in the port.
Onboard.com: What style of running shoe would you recommend for Alaska and the Caribbean?
JH: In Alaska, there’s only one hard-trail event and three road courses, so you can get away with road sneakers. But if you’re a trail runner and already have the runners, then bring them. For the Caribbean you should bring two pairs of shoes: road-running shoes and flip-flops. There’s nothing better than finishing a run, grabbing your sandals and chilling out.
Onboard.com: Do you encourage costumes?
JH: We sure do, and it began with a woman in her 70s from Florida. She’s a retired colonel in the US Air Force, and she would show up to every single run in an elaborate head-to-toe costume, from Wonder Woman to a Florida Gator. She was fabulous. And the last race in the Caribbean is a pirate race. So we basically dress in our best pirate gear and run. We might scare a few people, but it’s a fun way to end the cruise.
Onboard.com: How do you find so many exotic runs?
JH: We work with the locals and they show us their own personal running routes that are off the beaten paths, the runs that are wrapped around the jewels and gems of the ports.
Onboard.com: How do you keep it fun and not focused on constant exercise?
JH: We balance activities in a way so the focus is not on the calories you’re burning, but rather the exotic destination you’re in, the environment around you, and the like-minded people you’re running with.
We also gradually take people out of their comfort zones, physically, mentally and as a traveler. We take you on runs you wouldn’t normally run, like up the side of a mountain or down a historic street. One woman cruised with us in Alaska and had never run a trail run, but now she only runs trails. Running can really change a person [and] give them a new lens to see the world through. It’s a beautiful thing.
Onboard.com: Is there any sort of formal competition for one of or all of the races?
JH: We are runners so there will always be a little competition, but we organize it in a way so anyone can win, which makes it super fun and interesting all week. It’s like the Tour de France where each event is staged. The fastest person might win one day, but the person who is great at strategizing might win the scavenger hunt. We also ask you to predict what your finish time will be. So we’ll show you the course and explain what it will be like, and it’s up to you to predict what your finish time will be. It’s quite inspiring.
Onboard.com: What’s the No. 1 concern of most of the participants?
JH: Early on, everyone is concerned with being the slowest. But they learn quickly that we are the anti-competitive running cruise. We are a warm, loving crowd.
Here are the next two running cruises you can check out:
Sailing date: Feb 05 2017 - Feb 12 2017 on Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas out of San Juan, PR
Ports of call: San Juan; St. Croix; St. Maarten; Dominica; Barbados; Grenada
Typical Race Events:
- 5K Friendship Run/Walk in San Juan and Welcome to the Caribbean Party
- 5K or 10K along the white sand, overlooking the crystal clear waters of St. Maarten.
- 4-mile Run/Hike off the beaten path in beautiful St. Croix.
- 5K or 10K traditional Hash Run/Walk in Barbados.
- Explore the picturesque town of St. George, Grenada in our 4-Mile Pirate Amazing Race.
You are a few months late for the 2015 cruise, but you can start booking for the 2016 Alaskan Running Cruise.
Sailing date: July 22–29, 2016, on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas
Ports of call: Anchorage; Seward; Hubbard Glacier (viewing); Juneau; Skagway; Icy Strait Point; Ketchikan; Cruising the Inside Passage; Vancouver, BC.
- Moosehead 5K Run/Walk in Anchorage, Alaska
- Mendenhall Glacier 5K and Half Marathon
- Four-mile Amazing Race in Skagway, Alaska
- 5K or 10K Trail Race through the Tongass National Forest