Running in Hubei, Hebei and Tianjin in China

Following our trip to Japan, my wife and I visited China to visit some of my wife’s relatives who resided there. This trip would bring us through lesser known cities and some villages which provided a vastly different experience from our previous overseas runs. The two main provinces we visited were Wuhan and Hubei. While these provinces are not exactly next to each other, the overall experience was rather similar. In our return flight to Singapore, we transited through Tianjin where we stayed for a night.

  • City running. Our runs took place in city settings because most of our personal free time took place in the city. (Village visits were very family orientated with the exception of some long walks and a hike.) We ran along the street in Wuhan and had to take to the roads off and on due to blockages along the pavement.  (Cars could park on the pavement.) Hubei had a number of parks of which we explored two. The parks were teeming with people and were very popular with the locals. Both Wuhan and Hubei reminded us a little of Bangkok.  Our time in Tianjin was very short and we had an evening run along the river.  Tianjin’s public infrastructure is top notch and running riverside was enjoyable. All was well until the river forked into two which meant we had to make detours via two bridges to get to our dinner spot.

  • Air quality. We did not experience any smog throughout thankfully. Wuhan was very dusty so much so that the city had water trucks driving through the streets every morning spraying water to wash off soil from the roads. Hubei was cleaner and slightly more developed with more consistent pavements and even cycling lanes. Tianjin topped the experience given its highly developed status. In many ways, Tianjin was similar to Singapore. The river is really clean and you will spot several folks dipping in for a swim (unlike Singapore where it is prohibited).

  • Heat. Wuhan, Hubei and Tianjin were hot during the day. Not humid but scorching hot. We had to time our runs for the early evenings to avoid the heat. We also took to shade were possible. Running at night in Tianjin is a good idea given how well lit and populated Tianjin is. Hubei and Wuhan are slightly less well lit and are more deserted which makes running at night possible but not recommended.

Running was generally a pleasant affair as long as one was not exposed to the midday heat. I used the runs to get a closer look at local life given that my trip there was mostly for engagements with my wife’s relatives. The long walks in the villages especially between houses and plantations were well worth the experience and was an eye opener for me. It was an interesting experience overall.



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