Running is a popular pastime in Ecuador’s capital and a great way to stay fit and blow off some steam. The city has numerous parks, running organizations and a full calendar of races that are a great way to make some new friends and enjoy the city’s picturesque surroundings. However Quito’s high altitudes can make even the fittest of people short of breath. If you’re a new runner in the city, drink plenty of water and take it at a slower pace at first until your lungs become accustomed to the thin air. Here’s our guide to running in Quito.

Sightseeing on the run

Running tours in Quito — © maxmann / Pixabay.
Running tours in Quito — © maxmann / Pixabay.

If you’re an avid runner that’s itching to explore then kill two birds with one stone and sign up for one of Run Ecuador’s Quito Running Tours. They offer personalized running tours in small groups that take in the sights and sounds of the city at a trot, visiting some of the most well known historical attractions, parks and view points. A 30-minute run might take you round the centro histórico, Carondelet Palace and the Itchimbia Crystal Palace, while a longer session might lead you out to the valleys and suburbs. Your guide will design the running route based on your pace, what you want to see and how long you want to run for and will carry your water, camera, keys and other belongings in a backpack so you can get snap happy as you run. He/she will also share tidbits of the history and culture of the city as well as being a useful source of info for nightlife, dining and anything else that might interest you.

The same organization also offers running tours around Guayaquil and Cuenca as well as longer expeditions that take place over a few days and combine running with volunteer work.

Hit the track at Parque La Carolina

Running around Quito — © bob / Flickr.
Running around Quito — © bob / Flickr.

If you live downtown, Parque La Carolina is a great spot to get your run on. This huge grassy park is a great spot for a work out and has a popular running track that’s extends 2.5 miles in length with views of the impressive Pichincha volcano in the background. If you like to run in company, there are running races around the park every Sunday morning that you can tag on the end of. You can also search on Facebook and expat forums for running groups to join.

Running at lower heights

If exercising at an altitude of 2,850 meters above sea level continues to be a struggle then head down into the valley of Tumbaco that’s situated at more manageable heights for cardiovascular exercise. There’s a well-known bike path called the Chaquiñán trail that’s ideal for a leisurely jog and offers stunning views and lungfuls of fresh, clean air.

Racing after dark

Ruta de las Iglesias — Night running race in Quito — © Ruta de las Iglesias.
Ruta de las Iglesias — Night running race in Quito — © Ruta de las Iglesias.

Every runner likes a goal to work towards and this unique event known as the Ruta de las Iglesias has become an institution in Quito. Taking place every August, the 10km run attracts some 4,500 runners, who dash their way around the historic center of Quito passing by the city’s oldest churches that look particularly enchanting when they’re illuminated at night. You’ve still got plenty of time to get in training and sign up, as this year’s inscription doesn’t open until early June. Check their Facebook page regularly for updates. If a 10k race isn’t enough of a challenge for you then there’s also Quito’s half marathon on June 3.

Adventure running

Proyecto Aventura — Adventure trail running in Ecuador — © Nico Kingman / Proyecto Aventura Ecuador.
Proyecto Aventura — Adventure trail running in Ecuador — © Nico Kingman / Proyecto Aventura Ecuador.

If urban races bore you and you’re looking for something more adventurous then Proyecto Aventura organizes a variety of running and biking races throughout the year that take you to some of Ecuador’s most stunning regions. These trail runs aren’t for the lighthearted but they’ll keep you in tip-top shape and give you quads of steel. As well as the events themselves, the company organizes various training sessions to prep you. At the same time, they like to do their bit for the environment and promote and support the sustainable development of the local communities through which their races pass. To see their calendar of upcoming races, click here.

Got any other tips for keen runners in Quito? Share them with our readers in the comments below.

Originally published on Ailola by Sophie Lloyd on May 11, 2018.