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May 9, 2011

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Jog without smog

JOGGERS Kyle Patrick Long and Jamie Barys have turned their trotting passion into a running business, the UnTour jogging club.

After living in Shanghai for two and a half years, the Americans who graduated together from university in Washington, DC, started the club last November. The aim is to help expats get to know the real Shanghai, on foot, at a leisurely jog.

To emphasize its informality, its "non-tour" aspects, it's called UnTour.

UnTour offers a variety of running tours, eating tours and cultural tours.

"We feel sad to see foreigners eating McDonald's here in Shanghai, a city full of delicious food," says 26-year-old Long.

One reason for starting the club is to overcome language barriers, he says, adding that he often sees bewildered foreigners standing in front of food stalls, wondering what and how to order snacks.

Early morning is always a good time for jogging since there are fewer people in the street, less traffic and less pollution, Long says.

He, who started jogging when he was very young, always tries to keep it interesting and find new things to show joggers.

"There are lots of one-day tours in Shanghai, and people can find tour books everywhere, however, we want to show foreigners a different Shanghai with a unique angle," says Long.

One jogging tour can take in the former French concession, heritage architecture, traditional shikumen (stone-gated) houses, old town's narrow streets, temples and a bustling market.

Early morning joggers watch people practicing tai chi and others eating traditional breakfasts of pancakes, xiaolong mantou (steamed dumplings stuffed with meat) and shengjian (fried dumplings).

It's possible to start from People's Square to explore shopping streets and narrow alleys. Joggers pay 5.5 yuan (85 US cents) to take the ferry between Puxi and Pudong New Area.

Along the various routes, Long regales joggers with history and bits of folk lore and local culture.

"Winter in Shanghai is slack time in jogging, but spring and summer are great seasons for jogging in the town," says Long, who adds that he's considering a cycling UnTour.

Besides jogging, a popular tour is the 3-hour eating tour (it's more of a walking tour) that takes in local Shanghai street food and snacks as well as a market to buy fresh vegetables. It also takes in regional and minority cooking, such as kebabs.

Those who love noodles can enjoy glass noodles in sesame sauce, rice noodles in soup and many other types.

For the courageous, Long suggests a "weird insect eating tour," since Chinese are known for eating almost anything including insects.

To join Long's jogging tours, joggers can book on the Internet, or just join in.

Prices start at US$250 for a tour for one to three people and it charges US$25 for each additional person.

For more information or booking, please check

Jogging options

Early summer, before it gets too hot, is perfect for jogging, but in a congested and polluted metropolis it's hard to find a good place to hit the pavement. Here are a few suggestions.

? Shanghai Botanic Garden

Here you breathe in fresh air and the fragrance of flowers. The birds sing, the plants are beautiful. It's a great place for a work-out, with lots of space.

? Century Park

This is the place to run and see runners in Pudong New Area. Every Tuesday at 7pm, joggers gather at Gate 7 for a 5-kilometer jog around the 140-hectare park. Afterward the group goes to dinner.

? Lujiazui Park

Determined runners find Lujiazui Park a premium venue in Pudong New Area. It's open at night and offers views of sparkling skyscrapers. Good nearby restaurants provide nourishment and drinks.

? Guangfu Road W.

Gander at the beautiful and messy juxtaposition of scenery of old and new Shanghai. But don't get so immersed that you fail to watch out for cars.

? Lu Xun Park

The lush 28-square-kilometer park in Hongkou District is China's first sports park, with plenty of space. It was created by a British garden designer in 1896. It contains the mausoleum of Lu Xun (1881-1936), one of China's greatest writers. The park is popular with young lovers.

? Fuxing Park

Designed in the French style with lots of shade trees, benches and flower beds, the park is one of the favorites for joggers in the former French concession. Every morning it is filled with people practicing tai chi, ballroom dancers, mahjong players, card players and others.


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