Running In Chiang Mai, Thailand
While we were in Chiang Mai, we saw preparations for the Chiang Mai marathon.
Outside the old city’s gate, vendors were selling all sorts of running gear.
We saw running shirts, shorts and pants, socks, running belts to hold your phone, hats, energy gels, backpacks and other things to make your running a bit more comfortable.
The marathon organizers were selling running shirts from past years’ marathons for only $3.
But somehow it felt wrong to buy a shirt that says that I finished a marathon, that I didn’t actually run.
So even though these were technical, moisture wicking shirts that I could have used for my training, I didn’t buy one.
The marathon itself was taking place the day after we were scheduled to leave the city.
Runners from all over the world have come to Chiang Mai to participate.
I saw people who were posing for photos, holding their race I.D. numbers by the old stone walls.
While not yet ready to run a marathon myself, I felt a little envious, seeing their excitement and feeling their anticipation for the run.
For training, we chose to run in Huai Tueng Thao Sculpture park, located northwest of the old quarters.
To get there, we took a Grab taxi.
It wasn’t expensive, only about $10 each way, but it took almost an hour because of the traffic.
The park is set around a big lake in a vast valley, at the foothills of the Doi Suthep mountain range.
The flat valley is lined with rice fields, and inside the park they erected very large animal sculptures made from leftover rice straw.
All along the banks of the lake, there are wooden huts where people can sit in the shade, enjoy the scenic lake and dine.
There are also bathrooms all around the park.
After finishing our 5K run, we sat in one of those restaurant-huts.
Some of these restaurants serve a traditional dish of a lake fish head, that looks like a big eel.
Of course we did not try it, we chose instead from the many other Thai specialties.
The woman running the restaurant by the lake used a walkie-talkie to radio our order to the kitchen across the lake.
The food was fresh and good and cheap.
After drinking lots of water (we had not brought water with us), we continued our run outside of the park.
There is a running and cycling path that parallels the car road from the park to the main street.
When we got to the main road, we were short 2km from making a 10K.
We returned to the city by a Grab taxi, which we asked to drop us at the Angkaew Reservoir, located by the University.
There is a nice walking path around this reservoir, which is very scenic with large trees that provide shade.
The problem was that all the university students and some tourists were at the park, which made it harder to run.
But since we only had to do two more kilometers, we made our way through the kids kissing or chatting or doing their studies under the trees.
It would probably be a good place to run in the early mornings, before the crowds get there.
Most runners who are locals, do not go out of their way to run in a park.
They run on the roads or by the canals, narrowly avoiding traffic.
We chose to travel far from the old quarter where we were staying as a way of combining sightseeing and exploring the neighborhoods of the city with exercise.
In the last few days, Jules has been waking up every morning and telling me the latest stormy weather news from home.
Since we are nearing the end of our trip, we were monitoring the weather in order not to be stuck on the highway if the mountain passes are closed.
The weather news has not been good, and there have been multiple accidents and road closures.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has been emailing us weather alerts, asking people not to travel, calling the storms “deadly” and “life threatening.”
After much deliberation, we decided not to go home now.
Instead, we have extended our trip and will now stay until mid February, when hopefully the weather will be much better….
From Chiang Mai with love,
Photos by Jules Landsman