by ROAD iD Staff March 02, 2020

For the past 25 years, Harvey Lewis has been running around the world. Literally. Not only has Harvey completed runs in 100 different countries, he has logged enough miles to have run three trips around the planet. Yep, you read that right. Three times around planet Earth.

We asked Harvey to share more about his adventures, including his top 10 destinations, advice for folks looking to follow his footsteps, and goals he's chasing next.   

What inspired your international running goals?

25 years ago I had the dream to explore all of the countries on the planet. I went to Belize after graduating from high school and fell in love with the adventure and discovering a new country. Since then, I have run 75,000 miles and visited 100 countries.

When did you reach 100 countries?

I just reached my 100th country in December and have run at least a mile in all but 2 or 3 countries. I’ve run for fun and taken people on travel journeys. I have done races from the 2,500 year anniversary of the marathon in Athens, Greece to an unmarked 400km race across remote stretches of the Gobi Desert with only a pack.

What's your advice for someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Go for it! You don’t need tons of money to get started. You just need motivation. You can buy a Lonely Planet Travel Guide, follow blogs and more affordable means of travel. I have always aimed to visit a new foreign country each year; when I was a poor college student it was a domestic excursion.

I also suggest wearing your ROAD iD 24/7. I have worn my ROAD iD consistently for the past couple of years and am glad to have it as another safety measure for my adventures. If I were ever to be knocked unconscious, it’s nice to know that others could reach my family quickly. Especially because I don’t always carry my passport or even ID when I’m leaving a hotel, hostel, or AirBnB. 

What goals are you going after next?

I’m going for the win at Big Backyard Ultra. Since Guillermo and I raced to the end in 2017, surpassing 240 miles and doubling the distance from 2016, the race has taken off as an international phenomenon with Laz, the Race Director providing poetic commentary from start to finish. The Last Person Standing Ultramarathon kicks off in October and is expected to draw some of the world’s toughest ultrarunners. I’m also really excited to return for my 10th Badwater 135 this summer, among other exciting things on the horizon.

Harvey's Top 10 Travel Destinations, Ranked: 
10 = Off the Charts
1 = Not-So-Great.

10. The Gambia (score = 52)

Safety: 7
Convenience: 4
So much to see: 4
Nature: 7
Culture/Arts: 7
History: 7
Charm: 7
Wow Affect!: 9
I attended a friend’s wedding celebration with locals. The beaches were vast and it was fun to travel somewhere far off the beaten trek for most Americans. 

9. Guyana (score = 53)

Safety: 3
Convenience: 4
So much to see: 8
Nature: 10
Culture/Arts: 6
History: 6
Charm: 7
Wow Affect!: 9
I absolutely loved Kaieteur Falls! It’s in the rainforest in middle of nowhere and one of the largest falls by volume in the world. 

8. Egypt (score = 59)

Safety: 3
Convenience: 5
So much to see: 10
Nature: 7
Culture/Arts: 7
History : 10
Charm: 7
Wow Affect!: 10
The Pyramids and ancient history is even more dramatic in person. 

7. India (score = 61)

Safety: 6
Convenience: 4
So much to see: 10
Nature: 7
Culture/Arts: 10
History: 8
Charm: 7
Wow Affect!: 9
I ran the original route of Gandhi’s Salt March over 241 miles. Locals were incredibly hospitable and the variety of sights from monkeys to the Taj Mahal spellbinding. 

6. Fiji (score = 63)

Safety: 9
Convenience: 4
So much to see: 8
Nature: 10
Culture/Arts: 7
History: 6
Charm: 9
Wow Affect!: 10
The crystal clear waters of the Pacific are stunning. In Fiji, time slows and the village life on the islands will help to reinvigorate your soul.

5. China (score = 68)

Safety: 6
Convenience: 5
So much to see: 10
Nature: 9
Culture/Arts: 10
History: 10
Charm: 8
Wow Affect!: 10

The Great Wall of China is worth the trip alone to marvel at its wonder. The 5 Taoist Mountains were enchanting and off the beaten trek. There is so much to explore, from the Forbidden City to less traveled provinces that are as vast.

4. France (score = 72)

Safety: 7
Convenience: 8
So much to see: 10
Nature: 9
Culture/Arts: 10
History: 8
Charm: 10
Wow Affect!: 10

I had to create another category of “charm” when I was trying to pinpoint what makes France so special. France is the perfect place to lose yourself in the countryside for a restful respite.

5. Portugal (score = 74)

Safety: 10
Convenience: 8
So much to see: 9
Nature: 9
Culture/Arts: 10
History: 8
Charm: 10
Wow Affect!: 10

Often overlooked for other Western European destinations, I feel at peace in Portugal. It’s frequently ranked in the top European destinations as well as the top 3 safest countries in the world. For being a relatively small country I love its diversity, from mountains to picturesque beaches and lovely people.

2. Greece (score = 74)

Safety: 8
Convenience: 7
So much to see: 10
Nature: 9
Culture/Arts: 10
History: 10
Charm: 10
Wow Affect!: 10
The Aegean Islands are among my favorite places and love the history in Greece. My cousin Shane and I did an adventure with SwimTrek, where guests swim between the islands. 

1. USA (score = 74)

Safety: 7
Convenience: 10
So much to see: 10
Nature: 10
Culture/Arts: 9
History: 8
Charm: 10
Wow Affect!: 10
I may be a little biased but after exploring 100 countries on all continents my favorite country is the United States. There’s so much diversity to see in the 50 states and America’s National Park System is the best in the world. I could spend a lifetime exploring the many National and state parks. 

 

 

Harvey Lewis is an elite Ultrarunner and teaches high school in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the subject of the ROAD iD-produced documentary Like Harvey Like Son, which follows his attempt to run the Appalachian Trail faster than anyone in history. Follow him on Facebook & Instagram


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