Photos: Nothing—not even jaguars—could stop this man from training for the NYC marathon

You’re officially out of excuses.
You’re officially out of excuses.
Image: Photos courtesy of Ashley Gilbertson
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Anyone can run a marathon—or so it would seem judging by the variety of people who cross the finish line after running for 26.2 miles (42 km).

But for the many thousands who run, there are likely many more who get excited about the idea of running a marathon, swear to train for it, and then come up with an array of excuses and never do it. How to get it done? The first requirement to running a marathon isn’t physical, it’s psychological: commitment.

Ashley Gilbertson, a New York based photographer, knows that well. While training to run his third New York City marathon on Nov. 1, he did not let international assignments get in the way of his training. Instead, he documented his runs around the world, sharing them on his Instagram account with the hashtag, #runawaygilbertson.

Gilbertson’s running photos offer a great, inspiring world tour—while shattering the notion that being too busy or having an unpredictable schedule precludes you from marathon training.

He ran in the desert in northern Kenya during the sunset—not scary at all, he told Quartz, because you can follow the sun and the stars or run towards the city lights at the horizon:

He got lost in a forest near Munich:

Went for an “easy run” in the Valley of the Moon, outside La Paz, Bolivia:

Enjoyed this magnificent view during a morning run in Addis Ababa, Ehiopia:

And this, in Niamey, Niger:

Gilbertson also went for a culturally inappropriate run in Amman, Jordan where, he told Quartz, people were not the least impressed with his outfit—very short shorts and very thin tank top:

“The problem with going for a long run is you can’t smoke for three hours,” Gilbertson, who is a smoker, told Quartz. And so his favorite run was in Malawi, where he got to run alongside the road where farmers bring tobacco to sell and process, which allowed him to have his tobacco fix during his run.

But “Burma was OK,” too he says:

“They say you’re supposed to remember some of the hard runs,” the photographer told Quartz. And he does: Mexico, where he saw a sign telling him to beware of cats—only to discover halfway through the run that the cat was a jaguar, with its cubs:

The ultimate worst, however, was running in Calcutta. With 46° C (114° F) and high humidity; it was hell. “I never want to go back to that city and that run is a big part of why,” Gilbertson says.

All things considered, however, running around the world made training for the marathon more fun. “I found it easier because I was excited to see where the hell I was going to run,” he says.

Training was good for his work, too. From a physical point of view, running helped him with the jet leg, but most importantly it helped him process everything he saw while on assignment, and interrupt the fast rhythm of his coverage. “I think [running] slows you down, you get to process what you’re seeing,” he told Quartz. “

Although perhaps his idea of a post-exercise reward (coffee and cigarette) is a bit different than most runners’: