Running in Georgia

Despite the July heat (30+ °C) and (Singaporean) humidity, I managed to run most days in Georgia, exploring new areas and trying, possibly in vain, to counteract the typical Georgia diet, heavy in cheese, eggs and bread.

TBILISI - Tbilisi was my favourite running spot, had the greatest variety of things to see, and flat / hilly / on road / off road running options. Along the banks of the Mtkvari river made for a good flat 10km loop run, out to the Saakashvili Presidential Library and back, if a little harsh on concrete the whole way. There are only a few of pedestrian riverside access friendly bridges close to the Old Town, at the return point I had to cross a four lane highway... More interesting if significantly harder was heading up through the cobbled streets of the Old Town to the Botanical Gardens. Much more of a wooded park than gardens, that heads upwards along by a stream to reach the cable car and Mother Georgia. Heading even further up the hillside through the gardens takes you past the house of the richest person in Georgia (with wealth equivalent to a third of Georgia's GDP), which wouldn't look out of place as the lair of a Bond villain. This took me to a locked gate, unscaleable fencing to the main road, and a couple of security guards not looking too impressed with me... Tbilisi gets bonus points for having almost no strays dogs (had a few bad experiences in the past while running) though a number of stray cats were around (much friendlier).

KUTAISI - Kutaisi is the second largest city in Georgia and not particularly running friendly to be honest. There is a river running through the city but no paths along by it, the park was locked in the morning when I ran, and there were quite a lot of stray dogs around.

MESTIA - Mestia was more welcoming, surrounded by impressive scenery, reasonable new architecture, and the occasional cow in the street.

USHGULI - I thought about running in Ushguli but decided against it after turning the corners to find cows, dogs, pigs and horses, and their mess in the narrow streets.

Credits - would like to thank the website ( for the authorization to reprint part of the article "Running in Georgia" by Jonty Crane. Text and photos © by Jonty Crane.

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