Why you should use sports to travel the world

Picture: iStock

Picture: iStock

Planning in advance is a good way to tick off the list of places you want to see locally or internationally.

As a keen runner, cyclist and hiker, I have quickly learnt how these three modes of exercise are an incredible way to travel and explore the world.

Cars can only get one so far and with that I’ve come to realise that two legs and wheels can get you to corners too snug for cars in order to explore true hidden gems out there.

I’ve been blessed and have had the pleasure of traveling to many corners of our country and exploring the beauty that South Africa has to offer on my two legs and two wheels.

From cycling around Johannesburg with the 94.7 Cycle Challenge and doing the same in Cape Town with The Cycle Challenge, to running The Comrades Marathon from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, cycling the Joberg2C mountain bike race which starts in Gauteng goes through Free State and ends in KwaZulu–Natal, cycling the Liberty Encounter from Gauteng to Limpopo, The Absa Cape Epic that traverses the mountains of the Western Cape off-road and the Tour of Good Hope that does the same but on tar roads.

Mount Kilimanjaro. Picture: iStock

With hiking I attempted the nine Peaks Challenge which touches every province in our country and I’ve managed to cross our borders to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and see the beauty that Tanzania has to offer.

Last year I had the pleasure of cycling the four day Change A Life Tour where we rode in the South of France on parts of the Tour de France route and the latest addition to the list just over a week ago was the Rio de Janeiro Marathon in Brazil.

This is only a handful of sporting events and within these is a list of incredibly beautiful places that one has visited and a mountain of many other places that one can still go and visit.

If you are a runner, whether you enjoy 5km, 10km, 21km or marathons, all provinces in South Africa have races and most countries in the world have them as well on an annual basis. If you have kids and want to travel with them to expose them to the world, some of these events have short distance kids races as well.

The top five marathons are Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London and New York Marathons. These five are the most famous and can be oversubscribed with entries typically only being made available through travel agent packages.

Stonehenge. Picture: iStock

If you are like me and like being on the road less travelled, you could simply just choose a country you’ve always wanted to visit and just plan your trip around the race schedule.

I had a great time visiting Rio de Janeiro, learning about the culture and how differently Brazilians live compared to South Africa. Language was the greatest barrier as 95% of residents don’t speak English.

With that said, language shouldn’t prevent you from travelling to remote countries because apps like Google Translate do very well to bridge the language barrier line.

I have personally managed to cover all provinces in SA and have quite an exotic international list of places I am still curious about seeing the Great Wall of China, The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Stonehenge, Tutankhamun’s tomb and to explore the Acropolis and because I thoroughly love running, it looks like the following are on the future to do list: The Great Wall of China Marathon, The Pisa Marathon, Bath Marathon near Stonehenge, Egyptian Marathon and the Athens Marathon.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa. Picture: iStock

Planning a good six to 12 months in advance is a good way to tick off the list of places you want to see locally or internationally. Entries are usually available within that period.

The world is your oyster so if you are able to, make use of sport to explore SA and the world.

Zulu is a qualified biokineticist and cofounder of PopUpGym. Follow her on Instagram: @letshego.zulu Twitter: @letshegom. Facebook: Letshego Zulu

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