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Best Zwift Running Routes

Posted by George Parker on
Best Zwift Running Routes

ZWIFT will transform your treadmill running. I love treadmill running, and ZWIFT has made the experience even better. My ZWIFT Running experience level is 21 out of 21, so I have logged many miles!

Let's get started. 



The best ZWIFT running routes are not only the ones designated "running" by ZWIFT app or online forums. ZWIFT was designed for cycling, so, in my opinion, some of the most scenic and engaging routes are the cycling courses. Once you get past the route beginning, the density of cyclists thins. You will still be blown past by a pack of cyclists, but that's the ZWIFT experience!

To date, ZWIFT Running has eight worlds. I will focus on Watopia in this blog because it always available and is my personal favorite. There are other great routes in New York and London that I highly recommend and will discuss later.

Watopia 5K (Easy and Tempo Runs)

The Watopia 5K is a classic running route. Opened only to runners, this course loops on the running path, beachfront, and ocean bridge. At 3.1-miles in length, Watopia 5K is ideal for 30 to 60-minute runs. From ZWIFT,

The entirety of this route is runners-only! Take a twisting and turning 5km journey through the heart of Run Valley, down onto the beach path, and along the scenic skyway over the ocean. 

I also run tempo workouts on the Watopia 5K. Without the distraction of cyclists, I can focus better along the familiar path. The workout flies-by with the aid of stone markers pinpointing kilometers and miles along the route. The loop is the perfect distance for a 30-minute tempo-run or double-loop for more extended efforts. Seeing other runners on the path creates a sense of community and shared suffering as you are huffing and puffing through a challenging workout!

I also run tempo workouts on the Watopia 5K. Without the distraction of cyclists, I can focus better along the familiar path. The workout flies-by with the aid of stone markers pinpointing kilometers and miles along the route. The loop is the perfect distance for a 30-minute tempo-run or double-loop for more extended efforts. Seeing other runners on the path creates a sense of community and shared suffering as you are huffing and puffing through a challenging workout!

Watopia Mountain Route (Long Runs)

The Watopia Mountain Route was designed for cyclist KOMs but is a hidden gem for runners. From Zwift,

The Mountain Route takes you up Watopia's first big climb, the Epic KOM. Say hello to the ibex guarding the KOM banner, then take a deep breath because there's more in store. It's time to conquer the steep road up to the Radio Tower! 

 

The length and visual stimulation of the Watopia Mountain route is ideal for long-runs of +90 minutes. The landscape is ever-changing. You start at sea-level, scamper through the ocean tunnel, amble past mountain villas, roll through foothills, and scramble up alpine peaks. Flora and fauna fill the route, creating a welcomed company. Cyclists populate the roads, but the route's length provides plenty of spacing. Occasionally, you'll see other runners who you immediately acknowledge as doing the hard work!

Don't discount the route because of the "mountain" nome and climbing. ZWIFT designed this route for cyclists chasing KOMs, but you do not have to have the same climbing approach as a runner. I rarely follow the suggested incline on this route. Instead, I run my pace and incline and use this route as the visual stimulation needed for a long-run effort.

Don't dismiss this route because of the length, either. Watopia Mountain route is 18 miles long, but you don't need to run the whole path to make this route worthwhile. It's a roundtrip course, so it is 9 miles to the top of the radio tower. A hard run to the top of the radio tower is worth it! Very few runners will ever make it to the highest point in Watopia. It's worth the effort to see the radio tower and round-about before the descent back to sea level.

 Watopia Jungle Circuit (Easy and Tempo Runs)

Hidden in the Jungle's of Watopia is another course made for runners but not advertised as such. From ZWIFT, 

The Jungle Circuit begins in downtown Watopia. But you'll soon find yourself in a dense jungle, surrounded by lush vegetation, wildlife, and Mayan ruins! Take in the beautiful jungle valley views and wave hello to the sloth. The climb to the jungle is the most challenging portion, and those who make the front group will continue to battle for the podium over a lap and a half of the Jungle Circuit. 

How is this course NOT designed for runners with that description!

This course's appeal is the short loop distance and visual stimulation that keeps you engaged throughout easy runs or focused on harder, sustained efforts.

At 4.9 miles in length, this course packs in a great deal. You run through a dense jungle filled with colorful vegetation. There are animals - even a sloth - hidden in the trees that slowly draw you into the reality of the virtual run. You pass through Mayan ruins and caves, skirt waterfalls, and hold your breath over rickety wooden bridges. The dirt path makes for a natural, trail-running experience.

I use this course for easy 30-60 minute runs to keep me engaged. For more prolonged efforts, I often prefer loops of this course to the Watopia 5K. There is so much hidden in the Jungle Circuit that each lap is a re-discovery. The route is more crowded with cyclists and runners, which I welcome when I need more running community or company in the pain cave.

Happy Zwifting! Let's show those cyclists how to share the road with runners.

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