Anyone who finished a run this week to find frost on their cap, or who ran with one eye scanning for icy patches, has probably spent a few minutes daydreaming about an escape to someplace warmer. Not just warmer, though — someplace conducive to running and training.
For me, that warm runner’s paradise was Aruba. While the Gulf Coast was experiencing snow and ice in December, I was enjoying miles (kilometers, actually) of beach-front running and biking paths, an island-wide network of bike-share stands and a small but friendly running community.
Ironically, running on the sandy beaches isn’t really a very good option. While the beaches are beautiful, most of them have a steep camber that’s awkward for running. The beaches also are divided by the terrain into distinct beaches separated by rocky outcrops and coves, so those of us used to a miles-long straightaway at the water’s edge will have to adjust to much shorter distances.
Instead, Aruba has recently built a “linear park” that stretches from downtown toward the eastern beaches. It’s a bit reminiscent of the Galveston Seawall: a wide, paved surface with views of the sea that attracts runners, walkers and cyclists at all hours.
The linear park isn’t just a sidewalk; it links several beach front parks that are equipped with exercise equipment, so that runners can complete a few intervals of chest presses, pullups and lunges during or after their run.
With year-round warm water (around 80 degrees), it’s always triathlon season in Aruba. The season kicks off in January, with events every month, including sprint nationals in May, Olympic distance nationals in June, and duathlon championships in September. Visitors wanting to participate don’t need to bring their bikes; a local triathlon shop, TriBike, offers rentals.
For less competitive cycling, Aruba has a bike share program similar to Houston’s B-Cycle. The Green Bike program has eight stations where riders can pick up a bike to ride along the linear park or to one of the area’s attractions. Hourly rentals and weekly passes are available. Much of the island is flat and bike-friendly, though offshore winds can be daunting.