While abroad recently, I stumbled upon a smart new way to sweat. It's called sightjogging. The basic idea—an old one, admittedly—is that you can take in a great deal of a city while running, especially those places where cars are not able to effectively travel. The novel twist is that you can do this with the help of an athletic tour guide, replacing a complicated tourist map with a pair of running shoes. This way, your mind and body both go for a jog.
I found sightjogging.it online, in the rabbit hole of a Google search for things to do in Rome, Italy. I signed up, and my guide/trainer ended up being a young Texan named David. A former division one runner, he's now pursuing a Master's degree in early Christian history at a local university. Looking to make a few extra Euros, and take a break from books written in mostly dead languages, he had stumbled upon one of the first sightjogging outfits in the world, started by a local personal trainer in 2005, soon after matriculating. David now leads as many as a dozen tours a week, most of which last an hour and a half and cover some six to eight miles—which would take the average tourist most of a day to walk.
I met David at 8am this past weekend, outside my flat in Rome, after a late night of drinking and eating. (It was Rome, after all). We set out at a fast clip, and only stopped to dodge cars and drink from public fountains over the next ninety minutes. Sightjogging, I found, was more fulfilling as exercise than history: passing by the Coliseum, the Pantheon, and the Forum in a matter of minutes, we were not exactly receiving PhD-level insight into what we saw. (I was also hungover.) But it was a more stimulating and distracting kind of exercise than usual. And it got me thinking about how one might better experience Atlanta on foot.
One of the oldest intown neighborhoods, Ansley Park, is a terrific place to run: wide streets, little traffic, lots of trees and beautiful homes. It also offers some living history of its own. There's the old governor's mansion, on The Prado, where eleven governors lived until 1968. And the house, on 17th street, where Lewis Grizzard typed his columns and books and ate chili dogs. Also the one where MindSpring's Charles Brewer lives and schemes about technology. And the tall-doored home where Al Horford and his wife (Miss Universe) rest.
There's personal history, too: I grew up there. But I'll spare you the address of the first girl I ever kissed, or the park where I slid down a slide on rollerblades and dislocated my wrist when I was twelve. Unless you really want to know. Come to think of it, memoirjogging could be the next big thing....
What historic Atlanta pathways have you run?