Tripped-Out Running – Cruisin’ in Cancun

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Photo Credit: Cancun by Flickr user Mike Fleming, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Now maybe you have other things in mind when you visit Cancun.  And it’s hard not to – with its beautiful beaches, stunning resorts, and active nightlife, carving out the time to run can be a real sacrifice.  But, if you have a race to train for, or just feel the need to run on a regular basis to avoid going nuts, there is the opportunity to do so pretty easily here.

But first, it would be remiss of me not to explore the safety of Cancun as a destination, especially as it pertains to running. I’m happy to report that it, specifically the resort areas, have been untouched by the drug wars that have plagued Mexico the past several years. Thus, there seems no more risk in running in Cancun than there is in other major resort-like cities – obviously you should use proper precautions regarding visibility and safety.

Now let me state as well that this running experience was different than you are used to seeing here.  When I go on family vacations, I really don’t like to disturb anyone in the morning.  Thus, these runs were all postdusk.  In fact, the most challenging thing about running in Cancun was having the energy to go out at night, after a day in the ocean, on the beach, and in the pools with three energetic young boys.  And, maybe more limiting, the all-inclusive (including wine) dinners at the Dreams Cancun resort on Punta Cancun.

One thing was very clear about running postdusk in Cancun right away – you can’t go south from Punta Cancun, the easternmost tip of Mexico.  Picture the Las Vegas strip at night – partygoers galore, none too interested in making way for the oddball runner in their midst.  Thus, the only choice was to head north – and it made a world of difference.  All you have to do is follow the yellow brick road. Actually, it’s a red paved sidewalk, with a yellow perimeter, but it led to the promised land of open and undisturbed space with only the occasional resort entrance to impede with the progress.  And these resorts weren’t exactly bustling at night.

The one piece of advice I did hear regarding safety is if you reach the barriers, after which the city proper starts, you’ve gone too far.  This was supposedly 4-5 miles north of Punta Cancun – but I never reached it, so it must be towards the high end of that estimate.  At no point did I feel unsafe on any run during this trip.

The route north from Punta Cancun

I’d love to report exotic ocean views, but the only instance of this is in crossing a bridge around three miles from the resort.  There are plenty of palm trees, and the biggest Mexican flag you’ve ever seen – but it’s otherwise a pretty mundane route.  Going out earlier in the day, especially in the morning before business hours, and heading south towards the shopping and more densely packed resorts certainly would provide more variety.

But miles are miles, especially when they are hard earned.  Every night (well, the four that I ran) was the same out and back route, with the turnaround point dictated by energy levels.  This maxed out at 9+ miles total, but the last night in particular was a struggle, resulting in “just” a little over five miles.

So it’s easy enough to run in Cancun – logistically.  It’s just the motivation that can prove to be a challenge.

I’d like to thank Mark Kennedy for including me in his list of 20 Running Blogs to Follow for 2012 and Beyond.  He specifically cites these Tripped-Out Running posts, so I’m happy to be able to provide another.  Thanks Mark, honored by the mention and the company!


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  • Rob Savarese

    Good to know that Cancun is still relatively safe, I had written off Mexico. Vacations are pretty much the same for me, trying to squeeze in some run’s around family time with no set plan or schedule. I just call them a “Recovery week” and not worry too much about mileage or quality.

  • Greg Strosaker

    That’s a good strategy Rob – I had run a 20 miler the day before we left so wasn’t too worried about getting much in, and anything was better than last year when I was injured at the time (though I got some quality workouts in the hotel gym). I too was worried about Mexico but everything I read indicated that Cancun was fine – it was good to see that confirmed.

  • Margaret H

    Nice to know its pretty safe down there and from the picture – it looks lovely.

  • Greg Strosaker

    Thanks Maggie, wish I could have taken more pictures on the run like I usually do, but at night and on the route I was running, there just wasn’t that much to see.

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