IN-DEPTH NEWS FEATURE:
Mention ‘Bali’ to just about any Australian and images of beaches, Bintang Beer and ‘Rhonda and Ketut’ instantly spring to mind for many. But there’s much, much more to this beautiful tropical island paradise and a new ‘RunVenture’ tour promises to show the slightly more adventurous traveller the ‘real’ Bali.
The tour is the brainchild of Sputnik, Chief Swashbuckler at The Swashbucklers Club (and regular InShape News contributor). Although Sputnik has been visiting Bali for more than 20 years, clocking up more trips than he can remember, it’s only been his involvement in ultra marathon trail running over the past few years that has sparked his imagination to develop a unique kind of tour there.
“Bali has lots of great tours,” said Sputnik. “These are typically for surfers, people who want to do Yoga and those looking to trek. But there was absolutely nothing for runners,” he said. “So when I was there in 2012 and wanted to go running, I found it almost impossible to find interesting and safe places to run. That got me thinking. So I asked myself, “What if I found some cool places, then invited people to come over and go running with me?” From there the cogs turned.”
The result is something Sputnik calls a ‘RunVenture Tour.’
“It’s simple really,” said Sputnik. “There’s a little bit of running, a little bit of adventure and a whole lot of awesomeness,” he said.
The RunVenture Tour
It’s a concept Sputnik says should suit a wide variety of fitness types, from relative beginners to more experienced runners. Originally, he planned on creating something super challenging for even his craziest ultra running friends, but eventually settled on a more modest experience that even includes a leisurely mountain bike ride option for those who wanted to give their feet a rest on a few of the days.
“The original plan was to find 20 to 30-kilometre runs and do that every day for seven days,” said Sputnik. “But after doing the research, hiring guides to take me to various places, checking out the difficulty of the roads and trails and experiencing the effect of the warm weather, I decided to tone it down a bit,” he said.
The longest run is a 17-kilometre beach run. However, Sputnik is quick to point out even that even this stage has a shorter version with runners able to drop in half-way so the distance travelled is more comfortable.
On most of the seven days, the runs are about 10 kilometres in distance, with the routes ranging from gentle, downhills to steep inclines up to the top of an active volcano.
“Yep, the day that we run to the active volcano top will be tough,” said Sputnik. “I can’t imagine too many people being able to run to the summit of Mt Batur. But once you’re up there you can enjoy the scenery,” he said. “Mind the descent is also somewhat challenging.”
Other runs include a ‘Jungle Run’, ‘Lake Run’, ‘Waterfall Run’, ‘Elephant Run’ and ‘River Run’ with the emphasis, says Sputnik, placed more on the experience and the destination, rather than any particular pace or distance.
“Most running events around the world are races of some sort,” said Sputnik. “Single day races, stage races, or actual training camps and it’s all fairly hard-core and competitive,” he said. “Even if you just go for the experience, there’s still a level of pressure, whereas this is fundamentally different and way more fun.”
“Every run finishes somewhere exciting. This maybe river rafting, zip-lining through the trees or waterfall diving,” said Sputnik. “There’s always a soft adventure component to what we’re doing,” he said. “Nothing too crazy, but certainly enough to keep things interesting.”
In addition to the scenic runs, highlights of the complete tour include visiting newly hatched baby sea turtles, rafting down the Ayung River, a sunrise dolphin cruise, a tree top adventure course, waterfall diving, watching the sunrise from the top of a volcano and a visit to Bali’s best Elephant Park.
Non-Runners Are Also Welcome
The other fundamental difference is that he RunVenture Tour has been designed with non-runners in mind.
“In a lot of ways, running is an inherently selfish activity, particularly when you’re running longer distances,” said Sputnik. “You get out there for hours at a time and do your thing. Many runners leave friends and family behind while they run (the selfish act) and the only way they can get involved is to be part of your support crew,” he said. “So we went to a lot of effort to make sure that those not running could join in on. So every day a guided walk in a similar location is held, then everyone joins for the adventure activities.”
This makes the tour perfect for non-running partners and even children who are up for a bit of adventure and a lot of fun. Sputnik says the first tour in August has already had a lot of interest and is on the verge of selling out, so plans to run several more tours next year are already in progress.
“We were pretty sure people would like the idea,” said Sputnik. “But it’s honestly blown us away,” he said. “We’ve had interest from as far and wide as Singapore, the United States and South Africa, and they all want to know more. Already we’re looking at launching a RunVenture Tour next year in another really exciting destination.”
For more information on the Bali, RunVenture Tour visit the SwashbucklersClub.com.