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Exploring Buenos Aires through Running

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Exploring Buenos Aires through Running

From a young age, I have always been involved in athletics and was a two-year DIII athlete at my college.  Hence, continuing to run while in Buenos Aires, Argentina was a given.
During my time in Buenos Aires, I enrolled in a half-marathon and a 15k (9.32 mi) both for the experience, but also to motivate myself to keep running. Luckily, I was able to find a running buddy in my IFSA program, who serendipitously lived half a block away from me.  I would run two or three times a week with her and then run on my own during the other times.  We often ran four to six miles, which was nice, because it gave us ample amount of time to learn about each other and see Buenos Aires.

A Normal Route

I will acknowledge I was really lucky in the location placement of my homestay in that I was only a mile jog from the Recoleta Park.  The normal route that I would do passed multiple attractions such as the Museum of Fine Arts, the Department of Law at the University of Buenos Aires, the Intelligent Flower, and the Recoleta Park.  There was always something going on in the park no matter what time I ran.  In the evenings, there were personal fitness classes with personal trainers leading their clients through agility ladders or core exercises.  In the morning, I saw the intense runners doing interval training. On Tuesdays there was a group of kids who practiced the drums, which always gave a nice cadence to push me to run faster.  Running around noontime allowed me to see the slew of school-aged children touring the Museum of Fine Arts.  This running route connected to the Rosedale Park/Forest of Palermo. Besides avoiding stepping in goose feces, I saw Zumba classes in the evening, kids feeding the geese, and people rollerblading.  Occasionally, I stopped by different museums on their “Free Student” admission day on my run to see some art and then proceed on my run.  For example, I swung by the Museum of Popular Art Jose Hernandez and got to see an exhibit about different types of ponchos.  Where else could I have popped into a museum mid-run to learn about ponchos?

The Race

My friend and I ran the half-marathon together in September.  I was simultaneously nervous and excited because this was my first half-marathon.  It was all kind of an adventure.  We went to the race exhibition, where various vendors promoted their newest products, ranging from race merchandise to super gels and other technical items.  When we went to pick up our race packets, the volunteer asked me what my kilometer pace was. I was flustered, as I was accustomed to miles.  I just pointed to the middle color, in their five-color range presuming that would work.  The volunteer gave me my remera, a blue race t-shirt.  Race day rolled around.  It was a little misty, foreboding some showers in the imminent future.  I pushed it out of my mind as my friend and I made our way to the starting line.  As we made our way over, all I saw was a sea of blue.  Almost everyone was wearing their race shirt.  To me, I found this really interesting.  In the U.S., often people avoid wearing the race t-shirt because it is viewed as bad luck, but I guess it was different in Argentina.  The gun went off and we started running.   We ran past all the landmarks, such as the Obelisco, Casa Rosada, Teatro Colón, the Recoleta Cemetery, and the Intelligent Flower.  We got to run down the middle of the July 9th Avenue, the widest avenue in the world, which was really fun.  We survived and crossed the finish line just as it began to rain.  It was great to be able to run my first half-marathon with a friend by my side.  I enjoyed running this race so much that I signed up for a 15k in November!
All in all, if you enjoy people watching while getting some exercise I highly suggest getting outdoors and run, bike, or walk.  You’ll find unexpected hidden little gems like discovering cute coffee shops or museums you didn’t know existed.  If you ever get the chance to do a race abroad, I highly suggest it. Not only do you get to see the running community, but you get a race shirt to prove that you ran in another country. If running is not your thing, there are lots of fundraising walks and other events to get you outdoors in Buenos Aires.  Take advantage of your time abroad and view exercise as a way to stay healthy, to make friends, and to explore your city!

General Takeaways

If possible, join a running club.  I think that is definitely a regret of mine.  My friend who joined one was able to meet some locals and learn more about the local running culture.  Not only did she get to learn about Argentinian running slang, but also got to feel part of a community outside of IFSA, her internship, and her classmates.
As someone who is used to lots of greenery and trees, I found Buenos Aires pretty sparse with few green spaces.  A perk of running in Buenos Aires is that it is pretty flat and has a low elevation.

Anna Setzer is a student at Bates College and studied abroad with IFSA on the Argentine Universities Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2017.