Pounding the streets abroad: Running in Marrakech

A year ago, if someone told me I’d be running 10 km whilst on holiday, I think I may have laughed.  And laughed a bit more. Since booking our flights to Marrakech in early November, I have been contemplating on taking part in the running tour offered by Jonathan.  In December, I have finally found the courage to enquire about the run; since then, I (mentally) committed myself to a 10 K in the beginning of a New Year, despite my lack of training. 

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The morning of the run, I made sure I was well-hydrated and fully carbed-up (four batbouts and some apricot jam for breakfast).  Jonathan met me in front of the Koutobia Mosque a little shy of 9 am.  It was a stone’s throw away from the hostel I was staying at; combined with Jonathan’s clear directions and his qualifications as a running coach, I was made at ease before the 10 km run, a distance which I have not tackled since March last year (and even then, I have only ran it twice in my life). 

We descended away from the mosque towards the Old Town.  We ran past Palais de Royal, the Kasbah area, the Tanneries, a couple of gardens, and some historical sites (including one of the nineteen gates into the city, Bab Agnaou).  During the run, Jonathan shared anecdotes of expat life in Marrakech (and in Morocco, in general), as well as his running experience in and around the country, and the outdoor activities he enjoys the most.  I found it very comforting to have a knowledgeable and easy-going running buddy in Marrakech.  I need not bother spending hours researching decent running routes.  What’s more, it made running in a new city a less stressful experience, especially for a female traveller like myself. 

Despite of the fact I rarely run at home these days, my endurance must have improved due to Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide 1.0 which I religiously follow.  I was able to run the whole hog, with little difficulty, even as the hot Moroccan sun ascends into the sky.  Jonathan was more than happy to run with the pace I choose to, making conversing and sight-seeing a little easier. 

At about 9:58 am, we reached the souks and clocked 6.1 miles to the dot.  We walked along Jemmaa el Fnaa as vendors get ready for a day of trading and haggling; some early risers were around, happy to take advantage of the quiet medina to get their morning juice and souvenir fixes.  Jonathan was very willing when it came to recommending food stalls around the square, as well as give an insight into the “true” prices of fresh fruits and vegetables when they’re in season (4 dh for a kilo of oranges).  As we reached the main square, I was treated to a glass of jus d’oranges at stall #44, a stall he claims is his favourite as they do not add sugar to any of their drinks, something I approved of greatly.

We said our goodbyes, and I wandered into Jemmaa el Fnma feeling refreshed and restored after my morning run.  Anyone who would listen heard about my first running tour experience that day – one which will serve as precedent for many of these types of tours, I am sure.


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