There is a feature on the running machines in our gym in New York. While you are pounding away on an artificial slope in an air conditioned room surrounded by neurotic, exhausted office worker types you can dial up videos of great scenic runs of the USA. It’s called the Virtual Active system, and with surprisingly little imagination it transports you: alongside the Niagra Falls; through ancient New England forests in the fall; through the legendary national parks of the United States. I don’t know if it’s the pumping music, the endorphins from the exercise or that strange runner’s trance, but it’s actually pretty compelling, to the extent that when you finish it comes as a bit of a surprise to be transported back to New York City and the real world.
There is a particular run which is my favourite: half an hour through the deep canyons of Utah and the deserts of Arizona, with a final sprint along the Las Vegas strip. I don’t know what it is about this specific run that I particularly like – maybe it’s the bonkers scenery or perhaps, less kindly, it’s the virtual running through all the clotted crowds struggling from casino to casino. Anyway, I had promised myself numerous times in my little gym in New York that – one day – I would do the run for real.
Well, Lucy and are currently in the wish-fulfillment business, so here you are: