Running and Travelling: Bilbao, Spain

IMG_1192A couple years ago, I went to Barcelona while backpacking around Europe but that’s the only time I had been to Spain until last week. I went to Bilbao to attend a trade show for work. Bilbao is in northern Spain in the Basque region. It’s a beautiful small city that is surrounded by mountains and not too far from the ocean (although I never made it to the ocean). It is very different from Barcelona though, Bilbao still has very little English and everything is closed on Sunday and Monday. It’s also a terrible place to be a vegetarian because it is the land of ham and pork products.

IMG_1165One of the first things I noticed as we drove in, along the river, were people running. Perfect, just what I want to see! During my trip, the plan was to stick to my training plan as closely as possible. I ran 20k at Sulphur Springs the day that I flew to Spain so the day we arrived I had a rest day. The next day, 10k was on the schedule so I set off along the river. I figured that I could run 5k out and turn around and come back. I made it to about 2.5k before path ended but I saw that there was still a path across the river so I ran back to the last bridge I had seen, crossed and continued running. I made it to where I needed to turn around and there was still some path left which I figured I would explore on my next longer run.

The next time I ran, it was time for a mid-week long run (18k). I asked someone from Bilbao about where I could run and she said around the river and when I told her how far I had to run, she told me that I needed a bigger city for that! It turned out she was right. My promising path abruptly ended after around 4k so I ran to the other side of the city where the city ends and back towards my hotel and I still had hardly made it to 14k so I did another mini loop of the loop I’d already done. Thankfully, it’s a very beautiful route, full of old buildings and nice running/biking paths. I think the most frustrating thing is that every direction you look, there are big green hills that look perfect for trail running but I never found a way to get there.

IMG_1166Besides running, a lot of my trip was taken up by work. I did get a chance to visit the Guggenheim Museum (pic below) and it had two exhibits on that were both very interesting (Niki de Saint Phalle and another that I don’t remember the name of). And my hotel was located near the old part of Bilbao which was great to see, it had windy streets and tons of great shops. There was also a market where I bought a kilo (2.2 lbs) of strawberries for 2euro, so I ate a lot of strawberries.

IMG_1193Now I am in Lisbon, enjoying the sunshine, pastries and ocean views. I will post about running in Lisbon soon!

Any great running trips you’ve gone on?

Happy running!



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