'The keys to 4G -- and a map for your morning jog'
Boston — Going on a trip? You might want to pack a pair of running shoes.
Hotels, travel agents, and fitness-oriented groups are now keeping pace with the needs of the traveling runner. They offer everything from local route maps to running partners.
''Runners are often people with professional jobs and they travel a lot,'' says -Susan Kalish of the American Running and Fitness Association. The increasing number of traveling runners inspired ARFA to conduct a survey of North American hotels which specifically accommodate and cater to runners. Of 350 hotels that responded to the 1982 survey, 200 said they offered runners route maps, special meals, and reduced rates.
Gary Leopold, public relations director of the Hotel Sonesta in Cambridge, Mass., says the Sonesta has begun to oblige runners because ''more and more we see guests in the hotel going out for a jog. People, and especially businessmen , are looking for ways to stay in shape while they're on the road.'' The Sonesta offers guests a runner's map with routes, mileage, and a week-long runner's diary.
The Sheraton St. Regis in New York City is the headquarters for many participants in the New York City Marathon - held on Oct. 24, this year - and other road races in and around Central Park. ''We look after the needs of runners,'' says Iain Fletcher, banquet director at the St. Regis and a marathon runner. Mr. Fletcher has been a major force in directing the hotel's interest toward runners by designing a runner's map of Central Park and introducing special meals and reduced rates for competitors. Fletcher claims that these services have ''worked out very well because they benefit the runner and enhance the hotel's public image.''
In Canada, the Four Seasons Hotel of Toronto offers a pamphlet of maps for joggers and walkers with a number of local routes - including distances in kilometers - and notes about weather conditions, safety precautions, ''neighborhood ambiance,'' and quality of running surface.
In Newport, Ore., the Emarcadaro will give any runner - whether entered in a local road race or just exercising for fitness - a $15 discount on a one-room, four-person suite. The ''runner's rate'' is part of the hotel's effort to create a new family- and sports-oriented image. The hotel sponsors road runs and marathons and is said to be an ''excellent location'' for cross-country sightseeing.
But it is not only hotels that cater to runners. In Cambridge, road racers are indulged by a unique travel agency called Marathon Tours. ''We are just like a regular travel agency but we specialize in tours for runners,'' says the agency founder Tom Gilligan. Most of his customers are vacation travelers. But 30 percent are businessmen, many of whom ''plan their business around running events.'' Marathon Tours enters them in races and makes all of the appropriate hotel and airline reservations.
Mr. Gilligan says one of his best customers is Rodney Pearson, a Harvard University financial accounting professor and avid road racer. This summer, Mr. Pearson joined a tour to Scarborough, England. He and four other men from the Greater Boston Track Club ran as a team in the Scarborough International Marathon and won. The seven-day tour, Pearson says, was outstanding. He has also been on tours to San Francisco, Mississippi, and Bermuda.
And if special hotel reservations, maps, meals, and road races are not enough , it is also possible to find a running partner while on a trip. The October 1982 issue of Runner's World magazine suggests that a lone runner will probably encounter other runners in his or her hotel lobby at 6 a.m. or 5 p.m.
But ARFA has a more dependable solution. Its ''Runner's Referral'' matches runners with suitable partners in cities all over the United States. This is not a dating service - the criteria for a match is runners' ''comparable running data,'' that is, strength, pace, and preferred time for running.
ARFA began the referral for its 35,000 members a year ago and in July opened it to nonmembers for a fee of $1. Of the 4,000 requests ARFA has had, many have come from travelers who want to have someone to run with in the city they are visiting.
The traveling runner is a phenomenon of the last three years. As Tom Gilligan puts it, ''Five years ago it was so unusual for a businessman to get up early and run before his meetings that he would climb into the hotel elevator after a run and everyone would move to the other side.'' Today most people take little notice.