New Mpls Running Tours Target Tourists, Biz Travelers

City Running Tours has entered Minneapolis and offers an outdoor, educational alternative to the monotonous treadmill. It's targeting both locals and tourists-and through a partnership with the Westin, it's aiming to attract business travelers.

Tourists, business travelers, and Minneapolis residents alike have a new way to get a workout while learning more about the City of Lakes.

New York-based City Running Tours entered the Minneapolis market with a July 15 launch party at Peavey Plaza, and the company offers guided running and walking tours.

The tours-which are designed to accommodate any athletic ability-bring runners on pre-determined routes that cost between $25 and $50 per person. The routes take place around significant landmarks, but they each also contain an “added value,” according to Nate Herrington, manager of City Running Tours' Minneapolis operations.

For example, one route takes runners on a tour of downtown Minneapolis and provides free samples of local beers. Another course concludes at Target Field, where runners get a tour of the ballpark. Other routes include tours of the city's lakes, the Mill District near the Mississippi River, and the Walker Art Center's sculpture garden, including the iconic cherry and spoon.

City Running Tours also offers custom tours-priced at $60 for the first six miles and $6 per each additional mile-that offer a one-on-one experience with a tour guide.

Herrington told Twin Cities Business on Friday that he expects about 60 to 80 percent of local tours to comprise out-of-towners, while the remaining runners will be locals who “may have never had the opportunity to learn the background of the city.”

Weekday tours target business travelers and take place before or after standard business hours. City Running Tours partnered with the Westin Minneapolis hotel downtown, which promotes the service to business people, Herrington said.

In addition to Minneapolis' reputation as an athletic, bike- and runner-friendly city, its high level of business travelers made it an attractive place to launch, he added.

Herrington said that City Running Tours' local operations are currently run from his home, although he is seeking an office space. There are currently 10 additional tour guides in town, and that number is expected to grow with increased demand. City Running Tours employs more than 80 tour guides nationwide, as well as a staff at its New York headquarters.

The bulk of City Running Tours' revenue is derived from the fees runners pay for tours. The company also has national corporate sponsors, which allow it to provide each runner with a bottle of Smart Water and a Clif bar. Runners also receive a City Running Tours T-shirt and digital photos taken throughout the trek. A portion of the proceeds from each tour is donated to St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Minneapolis tours are offered seven days a week-year round. “We're not kidding ourselves,” Herrington said. “It will slow down a bit in winter, but Minneapolis and Minnesota culture is outdoor experience year round,” and there is still a viable market in the colder months.

City Running Tours launched in 2005, and Minneapolis is the ninth city into which it has expanded. The others include Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Charleston, South Carolina.

View a video of a tour in Brooklyn here.