A runner's life can sometimes feel like Groundhog Day. Much as you love your daily run, that backdrop of terraces and bus stops isn't quite the stuff of romance – especially in freezing January.
Now picture yourself running across the beautiful tropical mountains of eastern Cuba, with spectacular views of the Caribbean glistening temptingly below. Sounds idyllic, huh?
About the trip
Set amid the island’s largest mountain range - the Sierra Maestra - Cuba's Trail Marathon and 25K race follow rugged stony trails through a region steeped in South American folklore. Renowned for serving as a refuge and campground to rebel fighters as early as the 16th century, the wild, untamed woods that blanket the slopes have borne witness to many guerrilla struggles, including three wars of independence against Spain in the 1800s.
In fact, the decision to relocate the race to Santiago this year – having been held in the western province of Saroa last year – gives a historic nod to the continued legacy of Fidel Castro, Cuba’s infamous Communist leader. Castro first landed his yacht on the south-eastern coast of the island 50 years ago, before escaping into the lush green terrain of the mountains to launch his revolution against the USA-backed Batista regime.
Now a popular hiking ground among tourists, the 6,000ft-high peaks rise sharply from the coast, offering panoramic vistas over both the sun-kissed ocean and the island’s diverse terrain below. Wildlife enthusiasts will love the breathtaking array of flora and fauna native to the island too – with many species existing only on Cuban shores, the island is becoming an increasingly fashionable holiday destination among ecological tourists.
Thanks to the island’s Caribbean location and sub-tropical climate, meteorological conditions promise to be perfect for a good run too - temperatures typically hover around the mid-20s throughout the early calendar months. And for the sun-seekers among you, there is time aplenty to bask on the island’s white sandy beaches after crossing the finish line.
Alternatively, for those with energy still to burn, optional hiking on the Pico Turquino route offers runners the chance to scale a portion of Cuba’s highest point (6,580ft) – a great way to keep your legs loose and stimulate blood flow to your tired muscles.
There’s no time to worry about the onset of post-marathon blues either – the last days of the trip see you whisked off to the hustle and bustle of Havana, for a guided tour of the city synonymous with the island’s most famous exports: rum and cigars.
How to Book
The Cuba Trail Marathon and Half-Marathon (January 9 - 18 2008) is just one of the top-notch overseas training and racing packages we've put together with our travel partners at 2:09 Events, whose director is 1983 London Marathon winner Mike Gratton.
Two holiday packages are available - a two-centre holiday for UK based travellers inclusive of international flights (priced at £1,459 for twin accommodation or £1,559 for a single room), and a two-centre holiday including internal flights only (priced at £1,279 for twin accommodation or £1,379 for a single room).
To book, go to the 2:09 Events website, scroll down and click on 'Travel booking form'. Open the form, fill it in and send it by post or email to 2:09 Events.
RW Travel Collection
If you're immune to the lure of the Caribbean, maybe the Himalayas are more your cup of Darjeeling. Or how about the glitz of Las Vegas?
Whichever trip you choose, you'll benefit from the help and support of RW staff and Mike Gratton himself, from the moment you sign up until the moment you fly home.
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