BUENOS AIRES (Reuters Life!) - Business travelers with little time for sightseeing or exercise can cram both into a running tour of Buenos Aires that offers a glimpse of boutique shops, museums and even Evita’s final resting place.
Juan Lapadula, an Argentine lawyer who launched the company Urban Running Tours in 2008, said the 90-minute excursions were also proving popular with keen joggers on holiday as well as some athletically minded honeymooners.
“They have the chance to burn off some dulce de leche and bife de chorizo and see the city at the same time,” he said, using the local lingo for Argentina’s twin delicacies, caramel spread and sirloin steak.
“If you go for a 15-km (nine-mile) run you will have the chance to see a much bigger area than if you do it walking.”
The most popular tours tread through the Argentine capital’s tourist circuit, weaving through the Puerto Madero docklands, passing the museums along Avenida del Libertador and visiting the grave of Eva “Evita” Peron, the wife of former strongman President Gen. Juan Domingo Peron.
“We get to the cemetery running and then walk to the tomb,” said Lapadula, 31. “Not everybody wants to go inside and take that picture, but a lot of people say ‘we’re not coming back later so we’d like to stop.’”
The multilingual Urban Running Tour guides also regularly snap photos of sweaty participants in front of the city’s major landmarks including the pink presidential palace where Evita famously addressed supporters from the balcony.
The jogging tourists are also led past the mansions of Barrio Parque and through the rose gardens of Palermo Lakes where locals are more likely to be taking a casual stroll.
“Normally people don’t run through there but because we’re on a running tour we just keep going,” Lapadula said.
Demand for the Buenos Aires tours — offered in Spanish, English, Italian and French — was strong from the 2008 start, even at the height of the global downturn, Lapadula said.
Business has grown steadily since, with an average of 50 tours per month throughout the year, concentrated in the warmer August-to-April months. Most clients are between 20 and 50 years old, and many are serious runners who compete in half marathons, marathons or triathlons.
“They really appreciate someone going out there and showing them where they can run around a new city,” Lapadula said. Half the clients pay $50 for an individual tour and the other half opt for a two-person tour for $45 each.
“When we have two people, sometimes they are friends, or couples traveling together or on their honeymoon,” he said.
“It has happened a few times that a honeymooning couple has called us for a tour. Normally those are people who run a lot at home.”
Seeing growth potential from the large cadre of runners who travel a lot, Lapadula last year launched Global Running Tours, a global website to connect his clients to similar offerings elsewhere, and to attract new clientele to Buenos Aires.
That website advertising running tours of cities including Cape Town, Tel Aviv, Prague, Sydney, Vancouver and New York is now attracting 3,000 visits a month, he said.