The Barcelona Runaround

I got into Barcelona late Friday night.  Not for a weekend fling with the city, but rather, for an offsite meeting Saturday and Sunday.  Thankfully though, I still found a tiny bit of time to sneak in a few runs in between the last meeting of the day and dinner.  This was my first time to Barcelona for anything more than a train or plane transfer.  But I have been to Spain previously.

My first run was Saturday night, in what was otherwise a complete mess of a day weather-wise.  I would have made that my official Barcelona Runaround post – but the weather improved Sunday, and a new route along with it.  Make no mistake, even in the blasting wind and occasional rain of Saturday’s run, I still had a blast and really enjoyed it (the seaside park/green/beach space is astounding – rivaling San Francisco).  Here’s a photo snippet from my turnaround point (that’s me).


But, Sunday brought sun, and with it, a couple of free hours in late afternoon to go explore the city.  So, from my perch forty stories up in the hotel conference room I looked out and attempted to connect three rough land marks. First, the W Hotel a bit of a ways down the beach, second, the top of a mountain where a castle was on, then the 1992 Olympic Stadium, which hung out on the side of the mountain.  I figured there was plenty of of land in between those points to make something interesting out of it.

So, I set off into the sorta blue yonder:


First up was running into a band along the beach.  I’d probably pass half a dozen more before the run was up – all over the place in the city.


Along the entire boardwalk there were bike share drop-off points about every 100 meters or so, pretty awesome.  Plus, they were all of the city as I was running around.  And folks were using them day and night (even in the blowing rain).


About a mile and a half later I ended up in front of the W Hotel, which is a bit of the end of the line when it comes to the beach area here (stretches many miles the other direction, which I ran Saturday).  Looking back, you can see the two tall towers from which I started:


That tower thing above to the left is the end of a gondola that spans over the inner harbor areas.  It also has a restaurant up top, which I had dinner at Saturday night.  Pretty good food actually (usually, places with nice views don’t have good food, but this was solid).


From there I backtracked a bit along the other side of the peninsula and along the inside of the harbor.  In doing so I ran through a handful of different outdoor market areas and various weekend events going on.


Of course, the Barcelona City Tour buses and such were everywhere I went.  But, I was getting a better deal – for free.


From there I hit up the base of the mountain.  This not so little pile of dirt and rock extends some 170 meters up (557 ft), which is topped with a castle, and covered in various walking trails, gardens, and the entire 1992 Barcelona Olympic park.

Getting up it though quite simply hurt.  Up, up, and up.  Endless stairs, climbs and everything in between:


Eventually, I found my castle, and along with it – an amazing view of the city below:


As I was heading out, two cyclists finished up at the top.  Both sounded like they were about to die.  One looked it.


From there, I meandered back down the mountain on mostly different trails/roads.  I had no specific route in mind, I was just trying to find the Olympic Stadium.  Before I found the stadium though, I ran into the Olympic Museum.  Though, it was closed on Sunday:


Thankfully, a short distance away I found the Olympic Stadium and I was soon in front of it:


Today they had some sort of concert going on inside, and I was actually able to just walk/run right inside.


I suspect many of you remember the shooting of the arrow to light the Olympic Torch (must watch).   Probably the most epic summer games lighting ever.  Winter games clearly goes to Lillehammer in 1994 and the ski jumper (also must watch).  You can see the torch that was lit to the right of the clock:


After that, I looped around the stadium.  In doing so, I found out that the concert seemed to extend to some form of gigantic kid fair going on.  Clearly targeted at a younger demographic than I, the place with packed with things to do for kids:


At this point I was in the Olympic park, but given the vast quantities of little people – it was a bit hard to navigate at speed, so I headed out across the street towards the church looking thing (actually a museum):


I then ran around it to the front, and descended down the long plaza in front of it:


At the roundabout in front of the long pretty plaza, I hung a right and continued gently down a long boulevard, which would eventually take me back to the harbor I ran around.  Like many other streets, it was lined with barrier separated bike lanes…and more bike share bikes:


It was also here that I saw my only other Olympic logo in the city (besides on the front of the Museum).  I didn’t see it anywhere else in the Olympic park.  Though, I suspect this one probably isn’t an official sponsor location…


After merging back into the harbor area, I selected a different route home past the train station (where the zoo lies behind).  I can actually see what appeared to be dolphins out in a pool at the zoo from my hotel room window.  But, no dolphins for me on my run today – just big tall fancy buildings:


Finally, coming down the home stretch I had the beach back in sight in front of the hotel:


It only seemed appropriate that I end in the water, or at least at the water.  So, I ran as close as I possibly could, stopped my watch and went for a bit of a cool down dip.  The water wasn’t cold at all.  Which was probably why I saw numerous folks skinny dipping at night out there.


For those curious on the technology side, I was using the Alpha HR watch again – which I’m really coming to like.  It’s a bit odd wearing two watches, but hopefully someone will eventually put it into a watch that has normal watch-like functionality.


I was also using the Fenix with the just released 2.80 firmware (to record my path and my HR from the Alpha watch via ANT+):


And finally I had my phone with the Garmin FIT app on it which was live-broadcasting my route out.  I tweeted that just before I started, and a few of you followed along.  From your feedback, the results appear to continue to be mixed.  Some of you saw it no problems, others of you it dropped in and out.


With that, it was time to leave sunset and the beach behind and head back in for dinner.


Though, while the weather was nicer Sunday, the sunset at the conclusion of my run Saturday was prettier:


I created a Garmin Adventure with all the photos I took along the Sunday route (about 105 in total).  I don’t really stop to take photos on my runs (except at the top of the castle/mountain, the only time I stopped), so most of them aren’t quite photographic masterpieces, but they do give you a feel for the city in the areas I ran.  The Garmin Adventure thing places my photos directly on the map and my route – making it easy to see where the pictures were taken.  Enjoy!


As for Barcelona, I’ve definitely got to get back here.  It’s a beautiful city, packed with amazing walkability.  Late spring or summer seems like it would be the best time to be here, but even this weekend it was still relatively warm in the 70’s – and people are still out on the beach (even at 11:50PM as I write this).  Thanks to everyone who sent in their running location tips, I appreciate them!

With that, back to Paris in the morning I go…have a great week ahead everyone!


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  1. Well, another trip, another run and another wonderful post.
    I am so glad I have kept following your blog after I used it to choose my GPS watch.

  2. hola ray
    benvingut a barcelona, torna quan vulguis

  3. thanks for sharing the photos Ray, looks like you’d good fun.

  4. Great photos – one of my favourite running locations – one query – how do you carry your kit when you are running as you seem to have both a camera and an iphone – I assume some sort of belt?
    Thanks, I.

  5. Nice Pictures. Barcelona is such an awesome city <3

  6. Anonymous

    We were there in May, and I remember many of the spots in your photos…the fountain in front of the Art Palace does a fantastic show in the evenings, timed to classical music. Sadly, the bike-share program is only available to locals

  7. Ray, I just bought a pair of Saucony’s (my first). You said you were also wearing one, which model? Just curious

  8. Anonymous

    What did you use to take the shot of you out on the spit of rocks? P&S timer? Random stranger? Or do you have a good time delay app on your iPhone?

  9. @Alberto
    those in the picture seems the Saucony Progrid Xodus 2.0 Great trail running shoes actually.

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  11. I was out there for work in January a couple of years ago. It was snowing when I left home (in the UK) and a very comfortable temperature in Barcelona. I went for an evening run along the shoreline wearing t-shirt and shorts, and found dozens of locals wearing leggings, long-sleeve shirts and hats. I bet they cope a lot better running in 40C summer weather than I would, though.

  12. Hi Iain-

    The camera is usually in my hand, but I also run with a small running belt, the Spibelt (see here: XXXX).

    That easily holds the camera, and even the phone if I wanted. The phone though goes in a simple Wahoo Fitness phone case/armband.

    Hi Alberto-
    RE: Shoes

    Correct. I was mostly using them becaues they were the cleanest running shoes I had at the time, and thus were a better choice for my suitcase. ;)

    Hi Anon-
    RE: Shot on the rocks

    Actually, video. :) I didn’t know how long it would take me to get out there, or if the wave would crash just right. So I just left it on video recording and then grabbed the still frame later on. Easy that way.

    Thanks all!

  13. Anonymous

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    not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say excellent blog!
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