Run The World: Mauritius

Penelope Cairns |

Crusades & Cocktails: Exploring both the energetic and the entertaining sides of Mauritius. – By Craig Jarvis

Image: supplied
Image: supplied

It was winter: a vicious cycle of cold and darkness. We were too busy chasing our seasonally affected kids around the house, trying to get them ready for school on time, to even think about running.
After we’d dropped the kids off: work mode. My fingers darted manically over my keyboard – I imagined my wife, Lorrin, was doing pretty much the same, staring bug-eyed into a glaring screen.
We needed a holiday.

I searched my memory bank, and it was only natural I landed on Mauritius, because we’d holidayed there nine times already. Snapshots of sunbathing, eating glorious food, surfing, and growing ever so slightly fat – and if I’m being honest, lazy. But as my mind sailed across the water to our scuba-diving expeditions, I recalled the trail runners I’d seen on mountain trails along the shoreline, long before I’d embarked on my own love affair with the sport.

“Right,” I said, startling Lorrin as I slammed down my newspaper with purpose. “We’re going on a running holiday to Mauritius.”

The Rundown On Running Options

Coincidentally, the Westin Turtle Bay offered a running programme.

In fact, there was a full ‘wellness’ programme, so that guests could make wiser food choices and engage in exercise, thus avoiding falling prey to slobbing about – which is usually the only option when you go on holiday.

You could run with the hotel’s general manager, who regularly accompanies guests from all over the world on a holiday route that the resort has marked out. Those who preferred running alone could pick up a map featuring running routes the hotel recommended.

They even offered a gear-lending programme, whereby (for a nominal fee of $5) guests could borrow a pair of neutral New Balance running shoes, some shorts and a running shirt – they even threw in a complimentary pair of socks. Basically, it meant we didn’t have to cart our running gear around the world with us.

And the healthy vibes didn’t have to stop there: there were also super-food options on the menu that were designed to stop us from bingeing on all the stuff that’s less kind to the waistline.

Image: supplied
Image: supplied

But First… Cocktails

Of course, life isn’t all work and no play. So first we had a particularly raucous night, in which the bar staff at the hotel invited me and Lorrin behind the bar to mix our own cocktails. I made a ‘Sunset Strip Rhum Rumba a la Craig Fiesta’; and if my (limited) memory serves me correctly, she made a Dirty Martini. It was then that we decided we’d head out for a run by ourselves the following morning, using one of the maps provided by the hotel.

It was glorious. The beach was deserted, and silent. The morning air was fresh and cool, and cleared away the cocktail cobwebs. It felt like we had been wrapped in velvet.

Heading south, we witnessed fishermen wade out over the coral to cast their nets into the ocean. Continuing inland, we could feel a sudden rise in temperature, even though it was still early in the morning. We ran through sugar cane and other semi-tropical vegetation, and shook our heads in wonder.
It had taken nine holidays to Mauritius for us to realise the error of our ways. We contemplated all the hours we’d wasted on our previous visits, sitting by the pool sipping Long Island Iced Teas, when we could’ve gone running beforehand and felt far less guilty about it.

So the rest of our short holiday in paradise consisted of waking up, shrugging off the morning head fog, putting on our clean New Balance gear, and heading out for a run.

In the afternoons, we sampled the super-food menu and the banting buffet, followed by steam baths and Jacuzzis; and then in the evening, dinner and drinks.

Image: supplied
Image: supplied

The Hike

Our active holiday continued with the St Regis Resort’s mountain climb up Le Morne Brabant, which you’d probably identify easily – it’s an often-seen feature in advertisements and in photos of the Le Morne Peninsula.

The mountain’s past is interesting. In the early 19th century, it served as a refuge for escaped slaves. After the abolition of slavery in 1835, sadly, the slaves misunderstood the information given to them by a police expedition – that they had all been freed – and leapt to their deaths from the rock.
My wife and I fared slightly better on our modern-day expedition; our guide was a well-known Mauritian trail runner called Yan de Maroussem. We whiled away the hike chatting about trails, marathons, and the time Yan had spent at university in South Africa. That was until we reached a steep climb, and our calves started doing all the talking.

The Cross is straight up, gnarly and scary. There are ropes attached to the rocks at certain (rather sketchy) sections, for comfort and support. As we ascended 550 metres towards the clouds, my relatively humongous fear of heights kicked in, coupled with an unhealthy dose of vertigo. The experience took me right out of my comfort zone, but it did offer me a great sense of achievement – a certain satisfying weariness, something like post-marathon fatigue.

Image: supplied
Image: supplied

The Change In Perspective

The most wonderful thing about our active holiday in Mauritius was that it allowed us to change our schedule completely. Back home, we’d become accustomed to running on dark winter nights, dressed in tights, thermal vests, rain jackets, buffs and headlamps. But in sunny Mauritius it was all about shorts and vests, humidity, and getting our sweat back on for the first time in a while. A change in our routine was just what we needed.

Useful Contacts

The full Mauritius running calendar:

Rando Trail Running Club in Mauritius:

The St Regis Resort, for surfing, trail running and mountain climbing:

Westin Turtle Bay Resort and Spa for running, ’wellness’ and general fitness:

The climb up Le Morne Brabant comes highly recommended. Find Yan at:

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