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Around the World In 45 days: 16 countries, a Family Treasure Hunt, & Countless Great Runs!

by Joylin Nodwell

This grand idea started with an invitation to participate in a family treasure hunt. My Uncle decided for this 75th birthday, he would challenge 25 family members (and their families) to find 28 treasure keys hidden in 25 destinations around the world. The last 3 remaining keys would be found back in Calgary (Canada). With a long list of exotic and interesting places (Bora Bora, Santorini, Tokyo, Tanzania, Bhutan…etc.), our family chose Rwanda for gorilla trekking at Volcanoes National Park and of course, a hunt for the key! My mother and eldest daughter chose Istanbul for their key adventure so we decided to all travel together and circumnavigate the globe starting in Europe.

Promenade des Anglais, Nice

Time to lace up in Nice, France! Thanks to Great Runs for suggesting the coastal Promenade des Anglais. I got in a few solid 10 milers, and even more miles along the bike/running paths towards Cannes. These paths go on forever with spectacular ocean views along the way.

Travel since COVID-19 has been tricky with overcrowded airports and flight cancellations. One canceled flight led us to a memorable stay (and epic run!) in Ventimiglia, a small seaside town in Italy just east of Monaco with fantastic biking/running infrastructure for miles and miles. Buongiorno!

Buyukdaya, Turkey

The next series of runs were in Turkey where I got to finally run some hills! Andifli (near Kaş) and Buyukada are both a runner’s dream with smooth, even roads, unforgettable scenery, undulating elevation and very little traffic (or if you like dirt and gravel, there are trails too!). Another Great Runs recommendation!

Kigali, Rwanda

Wasting no time, we jetted off to Kigali, Rwanda for some gorilla trekking. Runners are everywhere in Kigali. This modern city has a dedicated twice a month “Car-Free Day” in the city’s center. We happened to arrive on such a day so away I went running with the locals down some very cool streets (even past the president’s residence!). Kigali is known as the “Land of a Thousand hills”, so I was in my element! Little did I know these would be my last few runs on land for a while.

Running in the heat of Doha


Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha had some beautiful running areas but with soaring temperatures, running outside was way too hot. An attempt at a 5k in Doha had my heart racing over 180 bpm. Treadmill thrills for this part!

Our next adventure was in South Africa for a safari and some much cooler weather. The remarkable vistas were absolutely breathtaking and I vow to come back one day! One memorable run was right beside the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport on a quiet stretch of perfectly paved road that was peaceful, scenic and very satisfying.

Benjakitti-Park, Bangkok

From zebras and giraffes onto tuk-tuks and temples, we arrived in Thailand. Running in Bangkok, Phuket and Koh Samui requires some degree of tolerance. Thankfully, Great Runs offered some very helpful insight on where best to run safely and seamlessly! Even with high humidity and heat, friendly wild dogs, street vendors, motorbikes, and people everywhere….there are good runs to be had!

Jurassic Mile’ near airport, Singapore
Koh Samui, Thailand

Singapore had me wanting more but with only a 14 hour layover, I thoroughly enjoyed the Jurassic Mile that starts right from the Changi Airport and ties into the main bike/running path leading to the City center and waterfront area. I will be back one day to finish this run!

Manila Bay, Manila

We savoured our last 5 days in Cebu (Bohol) and Manila, Philippines with memories to last a lifetime! We used Great Runs for the route along Manila Bay.

Our final treasure hunt was back in Calgary (Canada) with 85 family members searching for a treasure chest that could only be opened with our 25 treasure keys. Luckily, everyone fulfilled their goal of finding their key, and we were rewarded with a chest full of gold! Thank you to Captain Greybeard (my uncle) for orchestrating this worldly family event! Now when I turn 75….

Back home in Calgary!

Joylin is a 50+ runner from Calgary, Alberta, Canada with a strong passion for running anywhere and everywhere! Happiest in her runners, she covers around 80-100 miles per week and loves hills!

Note: All photos courtesy of Joylin.


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Mel R
1 year ago

Amazing adventures! How inspiring!

Frank van der voet
1 year ago

Wow, what an adventure for you and your family, Joylin. Thanks for sharing this epic story with us.

Natasha Kelly
1 year ago

I personally know Joylin and her Family. Joylin is a ball of energy, kindness and strength. She is a true example of the saying:” Most precious things come in small boxes”. I am very fortunate to have Joylin in my life. Keep on going girl!