September 26, 2017

Running in Essaouira, Morocco

Goats… in Trees!

Headed to the beach in Morocco this summer? Our recent adventures along the country’s Atlantic coast brought us to the “Windy City of Africa” Essaouira. And, as is always the case, our thoughts rapidly turned to the eternal question of ‘where to run?’ without twisting an ankle.

The city itself is laid out along a sweeping, sandy bay to the south of the harbor and the old medina. The old Portuguese medina of Mogador itself is huge, one of the largest in Morocco… though I wouldn’t recommend running in it, as it gets crowded with summer tourists.

We quickly discovered the wide promenade along Plage (beach) Tagharte. There’s a decent boulevard here, sandwiched between the frontage road and the sandy beach. There’s even a dedicated running path embedded in the walkway, though it peters out into a parking lot and a sidewalk after about a mile.

Hey, at least you won’t have to dodge mopeds, donkeys, petite taxis, etc, just pedestrians and the occasional construction vehicle. Speaking of which… much of the path towards the north end and the Medina is (like much of Morocco) torn up and under construction as the time of this writing.

The run along the beach is pleasant enough, though, offering views of the Isle of Mogador out in the harbor. If you’re staying at one of the larger hotels along the water, or in or near the medina, its no big deal to just slip on your shoes and hop out on to the trail.

If you’re like us, however, and find yourself staying in the town’s extensive urban area, you’ll have to first run the maze of alleys and sidewalks to get to the beach. We found the big, double wide boulevard of Avenue Al Aqaba is a good target to head for, as it runs parallel to the beach on its southern end. It’s a short 5 minute jaunt to reach this avenue from our current Air BnB, and from there, we can really open up the throttle, as the boulevard has some decent tree-lined sidewalks as well.

Our path around Essaouira.

We found mornings were the best, but then again, we’re a morning runner. The wind is also down a bit in the early morning, a plus if you don’t want sand blowing in your eyes on at least one direction, either out or back.

Further out, even running as far as Diabat about two kilometers to the south of Essaouira isn’t even out of the question. This small sleepy village just to the south of Essaouira was a hippie haven from the 1960s onward, though expect that to change with the addition of several major resorts and a golf course. The path south of the city becomes more of an on again, off again affair, which you’ll be sharing with the ubiquitous mopeds, taxis, donkey carts, etc.

Well, that about wraps up our saga of the triumphs and tribulations of running in Morocco… where to next? Stay tuned!

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