The arrival of a baby traditionally means waving goodbye to half the things you like doing – especially if you’re a runner. Even if you find yourself with the energy to pull on your shorts and head out of the door, you still have to find someone to stay at home to look after your little angel while you train. For many new parents, the prospect of running more than two or three times a week – let alone doing long Sunday runs – is as unlikely as a week of good sleep.
A running-orientated baby stroller changes all that. As strollers become increasingly common on the streets – and even in races – runners are starting to realise what a liberating difference they can make. At £200-£350 they are expensive, but if it is within your price range you can think of it as an investment in the quality of your life. Go out on a run with your little one and suddenly you’re both sharing something that’s a big part of who you are.
Just as importantly, children like baby strollers, too. Small ones (three months and above) tend to fall asleep, while their older siblings just want you to go faster all the time (you may need to negotiate here.)
The big surprise is how natural and easy a stroller can be to run with. Buy a light, responsive model and you can soon forget that you’re pushing anything. Steering tends to be smooth and effortless, and the pneumatic tyres and large wheels soak up bumps easily.
Parents often find that their normal pushchairs become virtually redundant once they buy a stroller, because they’re comfortable to use and they have plenty of baggage space. Their only down side – apart from the expense – is that they’re quite bulky when folded. You wouldn’t want to haul one onto the bus or around the shops – and if you’re likely to drive with a stroller you should check that the models which you’re considering fit into your boot.
We’ve listed the strollers’ dimensions, along with our road-test results, over the next four pages. But a word of warning: the models we’ve tested are all built for running – with one exception, which soon became apparent. As you’ll see, not all three-wheelers are alike.
Cycle Design Run-A-Long Lite £190Folded size* 107 x 61 x 41cm/93 x 61 x 22cm
Weight limit 35lbs; not recommended for children under six months
Features Aluminium frame; alloy rims; sealed bearings; brake; leash
Evaluation True to its name, the Run-A-Long Lite was one of the least weighty strollers on test. Once moving, it took virtually no effort to push. On the down side, because of the placement of its hinge and perhaps its lightweight construction, it flexed both side to side and front to back. This didn’t make it feel dangerous by any means, but it did mean that the acceleration and steering had a time lag. Still, the far-back position of the child gave the Run-A-Long Lite a well-balanced feel. It’s probably not an ideal model for runners with small cars: all its wheels were quick to remove, but even without them it packed down longer and wider than some of the models with their wheels still on.
Pros Light; well-balanced; big, smooth wheels; quick to pack down; good value
Cons Frame flexes; long when folded
Comes with Sun canopy; basket; rear pocket
Optional extras Raincover
Baby Jogger II £339Folded size* 118 x 51 x 19cm/ 113 x 60 x 42cm
Weight limit 75lbs; five years old
Features Brake; leash; anodised aluminium frame; alloy rims; sealed bearings; thorn-resistant inner tubes; viewing window in hood
Evaluation This was one of the smoothest, most reliable-feeling strollers. It gave an easy, well-balanced run with so little resistance that you could forget you were running with it. Though it was light, it had no excessive flex, which made the steering feel precise. Testers appreciated how fast it dismantled (quick-release front wheel, slot-in rear wheels) and said this made them more inclined to take it on car journeys. Good-quality accessories include a well-fitting canopy and a roomy basket.
Pros Smooth, predictable ride; wide handlebar; good-quality wheels
Cons Expensive; long when folded
Comes with Sun canopy; rain canopy; basket; lifetime frame guarantee; one-year wheels and seat guarantee
Optional extras Water bottle cages; bug net; extra-tall handle option for parents over 6ft 3in
Easylife Sport Buggy £315Folded size* 82 x 64 x 38cm/ 85 x 54 x 23cm**
Weight limit 100lbs
Features Steel frame; plastic wheels; sealed bearings; leash; two-position seat; car-seat holder; viewing window in hood
Evaluation The heavy-duty Easylife buggy received a mixed response. Its frame and thick fabric felt durable enough for a whole family’s worth of children – and it had a confident, positive feel, with no unwanted flex. The back wheels came off easily and it was one of the most compact models when folded. But, unlike the lighter models, it was hard to forget that you were pushing it, especially up hills. That, in short, made it less fun to run with. One unique feature was that the front wheel has a swivel option. Some runners found that this made the buggy highly manoeuvrable; others that it became too wayward.
Pros Compact when folded; solid and stable; wide handlebar helps steering
Comes with Basket; PVC raincover; removable sun hood; UV screen; lifetime frame guarantee
Optional extras Thermal cover; travel bag
**Front wheel removal needs a spanner
Mothercare Trax £99Folded size* 98 x 57 x 34cm/ 89 x 57 x 16cm**
Weight limit Not specified; not recommended for children under three months
Features Aluminium frame; plastic wheels; two-position padded seat
Evaluation We tested the budget Trax to see if we could tell why the other buggies were so expensive. It was pretty obvious. The small wheels, short wheelbase and upright position make the Trax feel much more like a pushchair than the other models, meaning that the ride wasn’t nearly so smooth. The handlebar (with no leash or brake) was narrow, and the child’s position was a long way forward of the rear axle, which made balance and steering less than ideal. And while we may have just been unlucky, the hub of one of our rear wheels started to come apart after just a couple of runs. As a pushchair it was fine, but we wouldn’t have wanted to run with the Trax more often than necessary.
Cons Not really a running buggy
Comes with PVC raincover; shopping basket; red, green or blue options
Optional extras Fleece blanket; handlebar bag; sun canopy
**Wheel removal needs spanner and allen key
Pegasus Trekker Sport £325Folded size* 112 x 61 x 39cm/ 101 x 50 x 26cm**
Weight limit 50lbs; not recommended for children under six months without optional cot seat
Features Aluminium frame; plastic wheels; leash
Evaluation From the company that makes the Land Rover All Terrain Pushchair (which they don’t recommend for runners), the Trekker Sport is an exercise in light weight and simplicity. Unfolding is easy – one click – and the ride is well balanced, with the child’s centre of gravity back towards the rear axle. But while it was smooth and predictable, it wasn’t the most responsive to steer. That was because the curved handlebar gave reduced leverage, and, like some of the other models (especially the similarly lightweight Cycle Design Run-A-Long Lite), sideways flex in the frame absorbed the initial pressure that you apply for steering. It’s the best if light weight is your only concern – and if you don’t need a stroller that packs down small. (Also note that the handlebar is about 5cm lower than average.)
Pros Very light; very simple folding mechanism; good-quality wheel attachments
Cons Long when folded; wheel removal not a practical option; delay in steering
Comes with Rain cover; sun canopy; basket; lifetime frame guarantee; one-year wheels and seat guarantee
Optional extras Cot seat; thermal cover
**Wheel removal needs spanner
X-Terrain Stroller Approx £235Folded size* 115 x 68 x 40cm/ 91 x 49 x 23cm
Weight limit 55lbs; not recommended for children under six months
Features Anodised aluminium frame; alloy rims; brake; viewing window in hood
Evaluation Despite having good-quality construction, this wasn’t a favourite. Testers found it cumbersome – relatively heavy and, crucially, not ideally balanced. Because the child’s centre of gravity was forward from the rear axle, the front wheels of the stroller were harder to lift for kerbs and quick cornering. The sideways flex was another down side, and the hood didn’t pack flat against the seat, which taller children could notice. On a positive note, the X-Terrain Stroller has a good high handlebar, smooth-spinning wheel hubs and a cosy detachable seat blanket. The chunky tyres would be good off-road, too – but harder work on pavement.
Pros Good quality, especially for the price; high handlebar; back support
Cons Not brilliantly balanced for running; no leash; sideways flex
Comes with Sunroof; rain canopy; basket; colour options; one-year guarantee for frame, seat and wheels
Optional extras Padded seat liner
Young Pups Adventurer £200Folded size* 83 x 57 x 38cm/79 x 48 x 21cm
Weight limit 88lbs; approx three months to three years
Features Aluminium frame; steel wheels; viewing window in hood; two-position padded seat
Evaluation The Adventurer came with word-of-mouth recommendation, and it’s not too hard to see why. First impressions are definitely favourable – it comes with all the basic accessories plus a footmuff; its wheels are very fast to remove and it packs down smaller than all the other models on test; it’s not overly heavy; and it’s one of the cheapest serious models on the market. It’s also stable and fairly smooth-riding on road, despite the small wheels. If you hadn’t tried any of the more expensive models it’s unlikely that you’d be disappointed. If you do compare it, you’ll notice its cheaper steel wheels with not-too-snug bearings, you’ll realise that its hood isn’t so well-fitting, and you’ll find that the ride isn’t as effortless as the lighter, bigger-wheeled alternatives, especially off-road. Make the natural comparison with the £190 Run-A-Long Lite and you’ll find each has its own strengths. The Run-A-Long Lite is lighter, smoother and has a better-quality feel, while the Adventurer has little body flex (which means more positive steering) and packs down smaller.
Pros Lots of extras; manoeuvrable; light; good value; very compact when folded
Cons Wheels could rust; not as smooth off-road as the larger-wheeled models; more of a budget feel
Comes with Hood; basket; footmuff; raincover; colour options; six-month guarantee
Optional extras None
*Folded size: the first measurements are with wheels, the second without. All measurements are taken to the longest protruding point.
When running with your stroller:
Pegasus, Easylife and the Baby Jogger Company all build strollers that can carry two children – the Baby Jogger Company even makes one for three! But are they best left for walks in the park, or can you run with them? We tested the Baby Jogger Twinner (£490), and it was surprisingly comfortable at a brisk trot. You certainly notice that you’re pushing something, and it’s a two-handed effort, but the stroller was well balanced and pretty easy to steer because of its wide handlebar. For transporting, the Twinner obviously isn’t going to fit in an average car boot, but even so it packs down ingeniously and is flatter than all the singles (115 x 82 x 13cm without wheels). If we had to choose between no run and a run with a twin stroller, we’d happily take the twin option.