An active tour of the town

City Running Tours teaches local history on the go.

Runners participate Sunday morning in a running tour of the U of M campus.

Runners participate Sunday morning in a running tour of the U of M campus.

Megan Nicolai

Decked out in running gear, Brendan Doyle waited for his two guides and another runner to finish stretching. Doyle, a University of Minnesota grad student, was getting ready for a unique jog.
City Running Tours, the only company in the country specializing in running tours of major cities like Chicago, Boston and New York, branched out to Minneapolis this summer and has been leading joggers through the University campus since late August.
The company runs a few tours around Twin Cities, but the University route is seasonal and ends in October.
The tour is a five-kilometer âÄî or just more than three miles âÄî run through the campus highlighting historic and interesting landmarks in the area. The route starts in front of TCF Bank StadiumâÄôs main gate, stops at Coffman Union, then cuts across Northrop Mall and spills into Dinkytown, ending with a tour of the UniversityâÄôs arenas.
Guides accompany participants, giving the tour on the go.
Nate Herrington, the manager of the Minneapolis branch and University alumnus, said the tour has been a hit with alumni, visiting students and parents, and local residents.
âÄúThe experience is new and unique and different,âÄù Herrington said. âÄúWe have great tours that allow you to learn about the community, all while getting in your exercise.âÄù
Doyle, who knows Herrington from their days in Middlebrook Hall, decided to give the tour a try to supplement his normal exercise routine.
âÄúIâÄôm looking forward to learning more about the history of the area,âÄù Doyle said. âÄúItâÄôs an easy alternative when you donâÄôt have time to exercise.âÄù
Running at about nine minutes a mile, the entire tour takes less than 40 minutes, Herrington said. He said the tour is set at a slower pace to accommodate non-runners.
The companyâÄôs Minneapolis chapter currently has 10 guides, Herrington said, more than five of whom are University alumni.
The University tour costs $25 per person. Runners can also request a personalized tour for $60 a person for the first six miles. Portions of proceeds from each tour go to St. JudeâÄôs ChildrenâÄôs Research Hospital, Herrington said.
The Minneapolis program is new this summer and started at the end of July. ItâÄôs the ninth city to host a chapter of the company.
Tours run through many parts of Minneapolis, usually focusing on the cityâÄôs park systems, Herrington said. One tour runs through the Walker Art CenterâÄôs sculpture garden, and attendees can take pictures of the famous cherry and spoon sculpture, he said.
ThereâÄôs also the 10-kilometer Beer Run, where runners get to stop and sample local brews from bars including Pracna, The Local, and Town Hall Brewery.
âÄúThe beer tour of Minneapolis is by far the favorite,âÄù Herrington said.
Runs are seven days a week, with multiple runs each day. But the weekends are the most popular, Herrington said. Campus tours start at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Because of the warmer-than-usual weather, October has been the busiest month for the new branch, Herrington said. More than 29 runners are signed up for next weekend, he said.
Doyle, who grew up in Minneapolis, thinks the runs are a great way to get more background on the city.
âÄúThereâÄôs a lot for the city to offer, and this is a great way to do it,âÄù he said.
City Running Tours also gained sponsorship from major corporations, allowing the company to provide each runner with a Smart Water and a Clif Bar on their tour. Local partners include the Running Room in Uptown.
The tours are a part of MinnesotaâÄôs tourism industry, which brings over $11 billion to the stateâÄôs economy âÄî more than $3 billion come from Hennepin County alone.
Nicole Sedey, who also went on the run Sunday, said she found the tour through a running website. As a runner, she couldnâÄôt miss the opportunity.
âÄúItâÄôs cool âÄî itâÄôs a different way to see the city,âÄù she said.