Running In Isabela, Puerto Rico

Isabela grackle

You know you’re a running NERD when you’re geeking out over a new running trail days after finding it. But we already knew I was a running nerd. The question is: are you a big enough running nerd to geek out with me? Let’s find out!

Pat and I went to Jobos Beach in Isabela, PR over the long weekend because he wanted to check out the surf break. Surfing is still a little too scary for my taste, but my enthusiasm for the trip shot up when Pat told me there were a couple running options near our Airbnb. I packed my running gear and got my hopes up.

Isabela, by the way, is a small resort town on the north coast of PR, about two hours west of San Juan. It’s very popular with surfers as it generally gets good waves, and there are lots of surf breaks if that’s what you’re after. Plenty of restaurants and beaches for lounging and swimming, too.

But I, of course, was after a good morning run. My success rate was ultimately 50%; here’s what happened.

OPTION #1: ELEVATED BOARDWALK

Just a few driveways down the road from our rental was the entrance to an elevated boardwalk along the beach, so I tried that first. I took off running and immediately felt that the wood was a little too soft for my blood, and I definitely needed to keep an eye on missing planks. Still, I probably would’ve continued if I hadn’t run into an enormous wooden barrier not even a quarter mile in. The entire boardwalk was blocked off.

So I turned around and pondered my options. I could try to run on the beach; not my favorite but I’ve done it before. I could scrap the whole thing and go back to bed, which is always tempting.

Or! I could start running up the road and see if I was within running distance of the bike trail I had seen on the drive in. Which leads us too…

OPTION #2: RUNNING & BIKING TRAIL

As it turns out, I was only a half mile or so away from the start of the bike ‘n hike trail, Paseo Lineal. I did have to run a bit on a curvy road, but the shoulders were pretty wide so that was fine. And naturally on the bike trail I had only to worry about my fellow pedestrians.

Per the sign, the trail is open daily from 6am to 6pm. (However, this being Puerto Rico, I wouldn’t be surprised if those are more guidelines than strictly enforced rules. Not that you heard that from me.)

Running trail sign

Oh, I forgot to mention. My photos all look weird because I took them through the plastic bag I keep my phone in. That’s my number one Puerto Rico running rule: pack your phone in a plastic bag. Even if you’re not one to sweat a lot, it could rain at any moment. The weather is highly localized and any weather forecasts you may encounter are vague theories at best outside major events.

Anyway, back to the trail! Though thousands of miles away, the Isabela bike trail reminded me of the one on Assateague Island. It had the same two-lane setup with directional arrows, plus a couple instances where you needed to cross the road if you wanted to continue on the trail.

The trail itself is primarily composed of the marked asphalt seen above, with the occasional mini-wooden bridge thrown in for variety. Unlike the boardwalk, they seemed sturdy enough. Most of the route was pretty flat, too, even the bridges.

Much of the trail is shaded by trees, often on both sides. This is a blessing in the PR sun, but also blocks the view of the ocean. Luckily there are a couple brief moments where you can see the water as you run, but you could only call it the scenic route sporadically.

If you’re more of a mountain person, though, you’re in luck! You also get some great views of the way-high-up-there houses, plus cows if you’re lucky.

Three miles into the trail (moving west to east), you’ll come upon an area that has scooter rentals, which could be useful if a non-runner would like to accompany you on your sojourn. Or, heck, you could scooter home if you want. There’s also a setup for a snack stand but it wasn’t open in the morning hours I was running.

Not much further down the trail, you come to what is ostensibly the end, or at least the end of the two-lane bike setup. This is where I turned around. However, it looked like the trail continues on in a narrower format, although I’m not sure how far. I’ll have to find out one of these days.

All this to say that I am JAZZED to have found this running trail. Isabela has officially floated to the top of my favorite places Pat wants to go surf. I can’t wait to go back!

One last pro tip: a bunch of the area restaurants serve breakfast, even on weekdays. We went to Uma’s after my run and I got a local yogurt bowl and it was great. Do that.

Want to run the Paseo Lineal in Isabela yourself? Click here to find it on Google Maps.

Don’t forget, you can follow FRoA on Twitter @fairestrunofall and on Instagram @fairestrunofall. If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment or email fairestrunofall@gmail.comSee ya real soon!

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