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Running on Ko Tao

The Island of Ko Tao is found in the southern gulf in Thailand, off the coast of Chumporn. The island is less than 20km long, and has even less girth. Though the space isn’t abundant, Ko Tao offers a plethora of good paths and great hills.

I started my run today on the beach of Chalok Coast. This coast is home to a highly frequented resort called Freedom Beach, and a disappearing shoreline depending on low or high tide. From Freedom beach, I headed past the resort up a 300 m incline to a small dirt path with a sign stating, “view point.” Induldging in my curiosity, I followed the ever-thinning path up over a few boulders into a small, shaded, flat area, where the path ended, with views of both Chalok Bay and Shark Bay.

After heading back to the main drag, I continued down through the city center, waving and smiling at confused onlookers who rarely see people running. The city center lasts for about 200 m, and then opens up to a road only lined with jungle greenery.

Continuing down the main drag, I took my first turn about two miles into the run on a paved road saying, “to Shark Bay.” Immediately, after turning on the road, I found a maze of dirt paths, all leading up steep inclines to a massive wind turbine. The paths were all intermingled, lasting about 400 m each. When finally reaching the wind turbine, I was blessed with a fantastic view of the bay that resembled more an infinite abyss of horizon.

Continuing on the path, a steep decline leads to a paved road still on route to Shark Bay. After a few hundred meters of rolling hills on pavement, the road quickly becomes inundated with sand and rock. For each steep incline I braved, I was rewarded again with another set of rolling hills. After about two miles, I made it to a viewpoint for Shark Bay.

Having only slept a few hours, I decided that an eight-mile out and back is about all I could handle for my first run in Asia. At this point, I turned back, and although I stayed on the same path, I was still blown away with scenery. The beauty of being on a small island is that an out and back gives you two completely different views on both ends of the run. The way back had great views of the sea nearly the entire run (seeing as most was down hill) and instead of abysss, I was staring at beautiful surrounding islands.

Ko Tao is a mecca of long, rolling, dirt paths, and has fair weather for country with a hotter, more humid climate. If you’re traveling as a runner to Thailand, definitely check out all it has to offer.