Authentic, Affordable, Active, and Adventurous Travel: Hut to Hut Running Retreats in the Italian Dolomites and Chamonix’s Tour du Mont Blanc
Picture the scene: you’ve just stepped off a 12-hour international flight for a whirlwind tour of France. The itinerary for the next 10 days is a complex series of train departures, museum tickets, and hotel checkout times. To kick off the vacation, the group decides to meet at 7am, and while they start to rattle off an amazing itinerary that includes the Louvre and the best crepes in the world, your mind has already begun a complex series of calculations. If you’re meeting at 7am, that means you have to shower by 6:40am, which means you need to start a 70 minute run at 5:30, but factor in a 15 minute window for street lights and getting lost, which means you need to get up at...and on it goes. You heard there’s an awesome forest just outside the city, but how do you get there? Do you find a treadmill?
Can anyone else relate to this scenario? I’ve always loved traveling, but as a competitive runner in high school and college, vacations, especially big ones to foreign countries, often required missing out on on some components of international travel. These days, running has opened up a world of places to explore while traveling. Enter the idea of a Runcation, where running is not only a side activity, but the vehicle to exploring a new country, culture, and world. Our Dolomites Runcation is a fantastic example of how through running from point-to-point gives you a unique perspective on two feet. You're able to see the changing landscape with each footstep, and the subsequent change in cuisine, culture, and language at each rifugio along the way as we make our way from the Austrian border south to Venice.
My running retreats are inspired by what I seek in my own travels and form the components of a Runcation: running, vacation, and adventure. For the sake of alliteration, here’s four staples you can expect on your next Runcation Travel retreat.
Our retreats offer an authentic interaction with the local landscape (more on that later) and culture. During the course of our hut-to-hut running retreats, we stay at rifugios, or mountain lodges, that have often been run and managed by a local family for multiple generations. As such, each rifugio offers its own flair, from the decor to the flavors of grappa. We try and limit the isolation that sometimes comes with traveling in a group to a foreign country. Authenticity is key to our retreats.
One of the goals of Runcation Travel is to offer an active travel running retreat experience that is affordable and budget friendly in order to open the world of active and adventure travel up to as many individuals as possible. We strive to minimize the difference between what it would cost for you to partake in this running adventure on your own, with the added bonus of experienced guides on the trails, baggage transportation between remote huts in the mountains, and all the logistics taken care of so that you can soak up the experience. You’ll find our prices incredibly competitive for active travel retreats in Europe and around the world.
On our retreats, running is the vehicle to exploring a new location. The main itinerary of our hut-to-hut running retreats is running from point to point, allowing you to experience these amazing landscapes for as long as you like without having to rush back for other travel obligations. While we offer restful afternoons and evenings that can be enjoyed from the rifugios in scenic, instagram-worthy sunset spots, we find most of our participants like to continue exploring the area, whether it’s taking a carafe of wine or a book to a nearby vista point, or exploring one of the side adventures our guides recommend. While this level of active travel requires some level of preparation, it’s open to runners and hikers of all paces, experience, and fitness levels. Last year, we prided ourselves in catering to a range of activity levels, from elite level runners to hikers, and felt that all groups left thoroughly exhausted and stoked from their adventures. We like to see our participants complete each retreat feeling accomplished from a week of serious activity, but also refreshed and rejuvenated from spending time away in beautiful natural settings in a complete departure from their daily routine.
We believe in earning your views. One of the unique aspects of our hut-to-hut running trips is the fact that our participants run from point to point along some of the most famous long distance hiking routes in Europe, from the high routes of the Italian Dolomites to the entire circuit of the Mont Blanc Massif from Chamonix, France. Throughout our journeys in European mountain towns and mountain ranges, we seek out adventurous culinary experiences as well as fun adventures in the mountains. Our routes include spectacular ridgelines, circumnavigating massifs (crossing three international borders on our Chamonix trip!), and varied terrain from trails that cut through rock to alpine meadows. There’s modifications for all levels of comfort and training levels, but there’s always the famous via ferrata, or “iron path” option for those that seek it!