When visiting a new place, I am sure that you often come across tours of the town. You see a guide that leads the group of tourists to different landmarks and buildings, and aside from the occasional Segway, it is pretty much a given that the group is walking. But what if the tour guide decided to start jogging – you’d probably see a lot more of the city on the tour, right? While it seems strange, if you are a runner, jogger or even just someone who occasionally enjoys getting out for a little shuffle and you haven't been on a running tour, trust me when I say you're missing out! Running tours are a thing, and could be perfect for your next adventure. We heard from Islander Allison Hardwick, who leads running tours in St. Petersburg, Florida, and heard all about the details of running tours!
What is a running tour? It's like going for a jog with your friend or running buddies, except instead of having a casual chat, you get to learn about local art, culture, history, and sports while running around town. I lead tours around downtown St. Petersburg, FL, and it is the best way to get the most information!
Distance/Pace: The standard tour is 5 miles, but this is totally customizable upon request, and the guest sets the pace! I can go as slow as guests would like, and have even led sprinting or elite level running tours. I like to believe that I can keep up with some of the speedier guests as well! So far, I've done as short as a 5k and as long as a 10 mile route. I would LOVE to design a 20-miler or marathon tour at some point if anyone is up for the challenge!
Group or Solo? Again, it's up to the guests! You want to go out on a tour with a group of friends? No problem! Looking for a solo escape on vacation? I got you. All tours are booked on a private basis, so the guest gets to choose their company.
History: During the St. Pete tour we stop at landmarks all over the city to talk about the Russian immigrant credited with founding the city, the construction and destruction of three famous St. Pete Pires, the birth of the first commercial passenger flight which happened right over Tampa Bay, the story behind the downtown Albert Whitted Airport, the iconic Vinoy hotel, the famous Tropicana field and the list goes on! I enjoy reading up on St. Pete history and have an awesome hookup at a local bookstore to sharpen my touring skills. If any of my guests request more history, I will happily do the research and beef up the history parts.
Art: One of the best things about downtown St. Pete is the street art. A lot of people don't know this, but most of the alleyways and side streets in St. Pete feature murals of all types- gorgeous, abstract, unique, political, controversial and some that are just downright weird! Locals in St. Pete definitely proudly proclaim "Keep St. Pete weird" and the art definitely embodies this motto. I love snapping photos of tour guests posing with murals and running in front of them, it makes for a special souvenir and terrific way to remember the tour.
Sports: The tour also features stops near the Tampa Bay Rowdies stadium (our local minor league soccer team), a look at the St. Pete Grand Prix course and grandstand, the Tropicana field and home of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Food, Beer and Recommendations: Of course, moving from stop to stop along the tour takes us past tons of restaurants and breweries and we always take time to point out some delicious spots for food and brew!
The End: Each tour guest receives an awesome goodie bag at the end stuffed with running nutrition products, gels, electrolyte tablets, vegan protein powder samples, a customized "St. Pete Running Tours with Allie" sticker featuring my running gator logo, and a sweet coupon to our favorite local store! Finally, for my guests that have a little time to spare, the best way to top off an amazing St. Pete running tour is to crack a cold one and celebrate a one-of-a-kind running experience I always recommend that guests order Island beer, and it never disappoints!
Next time you visit St. Petersburg be sure to give Allie a call for a tour! Not the strongest runner? Be sure to suggest her tours to your speedy friends, and meet them for an Island at the finish line.