(Disclaimer: The following is a nonsensical farce. That said, it contains spoilers through “Game of Thrones” Season 6. So if you haven’t binged your way through, considered yourself warned).
Winter is here and the miles are coming!
We couldn’t be more excited about the Season 7 premier of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” on Sunday, July 16. When we left off, Daenerys was steaming toward Westeros, Cersei was roasting marshmallows over the Sept of Baelor and John Snow was declared King in the North. Plus, the R+L=J theory finally panned out. Oh yeah, Bran is time jumping, so that’s cool.
To mark the occasion of the new season, we thought it would be fun to pick out some of our favorite potential running spots in Westeros and build some races around them. The difficulty is that Westeros is fictional—and GoogleMaps got mad when I tried to navigate from “home to Deepwood Motte.” So we’re estimating distances from a post Winteriscoming.net did a couple of years ago. We’re avoiding Essos, because who really wants to run through hundreds of miles of horse manure in the Dothraki Sea? And we’re not going North of the Wall because, duh, White Walkers.
So enjoy this running trip around Westeros!
The King’s Landing Fun Run
This race is available in a 5K, 10K, half and full marathon. There’s also a nude walking option. Rumor has it Queen Cersei (long may she reign) will pace the bare-bottomed walkers with a direct route from the Sept to the Red Keep. The local tradition is to yell “shame” and throw iron-rich vegetables to help walkers keep up their strength.
The longer distances will take you by beautiful Blackwater Bay (I hear they are adding a triathlon for next year!), up and down the Street of Sisters, Flower, Silk and Steel before finally ending at a giant splash down pool into the Mud Gates. Wine stops are available at each mile except in Flea Bottom, where you can pick up a bowl of brown.
As a bonus, all of the Kingsguard are expected to show up and cheer you on at the end. And if you’re a little tired, maybe Jaime Lannister can lend you a hand.
The Bloody Gates Trail Run
This ultra is not for the faint of heart. It’s 70 miles up a narrow path before finally coming to an end at The Eyrie (we’ve received word that the archers will stand down for the weekend … you’re welcome). Runners will have to negotiate technical terrain through the Mountain of the Moon while also coping with thinning oxygen as they climb several thousand feet. If you’re in the back of the pack and you see them closing the gates, whatever you do, don’t yell “Hold the door.” That’s just bad form.
But those who finish will be treated to a great feast in the High Hall of the Arryns before spending the night recovering in a luxurious Sky Cell with all of its scenic views. It’ll be slow going on your way down the trail the next day. But if you’re in a hurry, word is that Lysa Arryn knows a quicker way down.
Winterfell-to-The-Wall Ragnar Relay
Get a group of friends together, because you’re not going to want to go it alone on this one. It’s about 650 miles via The King’s Road from Winterfell to Castle Black. As we know, winter is here (remember, The Citadel sent out white ravens last season), so appropriate cold-weather gear will be necessary.
But runners will also be treated to splendid scenery as they run by Long Lake and cross The Last River en route to The Gift—the land that was given to the Night’s Watch thousands of years ago by Bran the Builder (who really might be Bran floating through time????). Mole’s Town might be a little seedy. But it’s a place to crash and the people are kind … at least the ones who weren’t eaten by Thenns.
Run With Your Dog at The Dreadfort
Not a lot is known about this particular castle in The North. But hey, the Boltons seem like they are totally dog people. So why not bring your pooch for a brisk Northern run along the Weeping Water? It’s well known that the late Roose Bolton did not imbibe, so don’t expect a post-race beer. Also, stay away from the basement. It smells pretty bad down there. Many have said it’s been known to Reek.
Dorne Wine/Beach Run
Let’s get out of the cold and catch some rays! The gardens of Sunspear are gorgeous and the castle is surrounded on three sides by water. So you might as well bring the whole family and make it a beach getaway weekend. Per a wiki of fire and ice, it’s three leagues—about 10 miles— from the Palace of Water Gardens to Sunspear. And after a tough race, is there anything better than a nice goblet of Dornish red as the sun sets. Just be on the lookout for kissing Sand Snakes.
The Ultimate Tour de Westeros Ultra
If you believe this particular post, Westeros is a giant 5,600K from South to North, or 3,479 miles. For perspective, GoogleMaps says it’s 3,120 miles from San Diego (Competitor magazine’s HQ) to the State of Maine.
An ultrarunner can accomplish this feat in fewer than 50 days. Let’s assume you aren’t an ultrarunner. You are going to want to stop along the way and partake in local fare, like sipping Dornish wine and taking a swim in The Riverlands. And of course you have to stop for a selfie with your battle hammer at The Trident.
If you want to walk it, that’s going to take some time. But you’d still finish before “The Winds of Winter” is released.