Meet a Rogue Expeditions Runner: Cepee Tabibian

What type of people go on Rogue Expeditions running trips? It seems that everyone worries that they'll either be too slow, or too fast. That the mileage will be too difficult, or not challenging enough. That they'll be too old, or too young. That the other people will be super serious running geeks who talk about nothing but training, or that the other people will all be there to take it reeeeeeally easy. That they'll be the only person who doesn't know anyone else.

In truth, there is no "type." The trips attract all sorts of backgrounds, all sorts of ability levels and all sorts of motivations for being there, and the beautiful thing is that it works for just about everyone! To prove it, we are highlighting a number of our runners using their own words. Read on to find out about the running background, pre-trip hesitations, favorite trip memories and most surprising realization of a Rogue Expeditions runner.

Next up is Cepee Tabibian, who originally hails from Houston but moved to Madrid, Spain several years ago where she began Wanderlicious, a plant-based food and travel blog for Madrid and beyond.


Which trips have you done and when?
Morocco (March 2014) and Bend (August 2015)

Describe your running background.
I’m a late bloomer and didn’t start running until I moved to Austin in 2011 at the age of 31. I started off with sprint distance triathlons and then completed the Austin Half Marathon in 2013 and then the full in 2014, and also joined an all female trail running group. Running quickly went from feeling like a chore and just part of my tri-training to becoming my main physical discipline. I looked forward to it, especially trail running. I felt wild, free, and connected to everything around me.

How did you end up on your first Rogue Expeditions trip? What led you to the decision?
I’ve always been a avid traveler and came across a flyer for Rogue Expeditions late 2013, just a few months before my 1st marathon. The thought of combining travel + running was sounded equally challenging, crazy, and somehow appealing. The price was fantastic and the trip coincided with my birthday (April 7th).  On a personal note, I hoped it would be a cathartic trip. Seven is my lucky number and seven years earlier on April 7th for my 27th birthday I had made a painful decision in Marrakech. The city and country held memories that I wanted to leave behind and never revisit. However, it just finally felt right to return and create new memories there.

Any hesitations or uncertainties going into it?
Not really. I’m half Middle Eastern, I love Arab culture and had been to Morocco a few times already. I guess my only hesitation was about traveling with a group. I’ve always been a solo traveler as I enjoy discovering a new environment on my own and at my own pace. Group tours always seemed curated and isolated from the authentic culture of a country, which for me defeats the whole purpose of travel. However, given that it was such a unique experience, I figured a group of runners traveling to run around Morocco would provide a different experience from the traditional group tours out there...and that was the case!

Did you know anyone else in the group beforehand? How was it traveling with a group of strangers?
I didn’t know anyone other than from a few Rogue Expedition meet and greets before leaving to Morocco. Since I was traveling solo I ended up rooming with the 2 other girls who had also signed up on their own . I was excited to meet a new group of people, and rooming with these 2 ladies couldn’t have been a better experience. We bonded on our first night in Marrakech and  were called the "3 Marias" from then on, although no one was named Maria, lol. Since then I have been lucky enough to attend the wedding of one “Maria” and travel to France, Italy, Denmark, and Thailand with the other “Maria.”

What was your favorite run in each destination and why??
In Morocco it was without a doubt the Iriqui Lake run. The lake is actually a dry river bed and was probably the hottest run of our trip. I’m a rare one who enjoys running in the heat and I have fond memories of running on my own, out in the open, under the sun, listening to Air’s “Run” and having a euphoric moment of floating across the dehydrated ground below...looking back it may have just been the first signs of overheating.

In Bend it was our run on the MacKenzie River Trail. The lush forests that Allison likens to something out of Fern Gully was the exact opposite of what we experienced in the desert landscapes of Morocco. It was such a pleasure to run through for this trail loving gal.

Food is a huge part of any travel experience. What was your favorite thing that you ate in during each trip?
I’m a vegetarian so Morocco was a perfect destination. Their cuisine can easy accommodate a plant-based eater as it is heavily vegetable based. I loved all the food although I will say after 7 + days of spectacular tajine I was ready for some variety back home.

Both travel and running have their ups and downs. What has been your most challenging moment or issue during a running trip? How did you overcome it?
For me the most challenging aspect was feeling confident in my ability to run everyday. As I mentioned I was new-ish to running when I went on the Morocco trip and had never attempted that much mileage in my life (63 miles in 1 week)!  On the trip I went to bed exhausted every night and woke up earlier than I would have liked every morning. However every morning without fail, the excitement to run through a new terrain led to an adrenaline rush and next thing you know you’re happily running again. I found myself running more than I had planned to each day just because it was so enjoyable.

Pick one trip. What surprised you the most about the experience?
I think what surprised me most about the trip was how well everyone adapted to a foreign culture. I say that because we had a few people in the group who had never left the U.S. and had chosen a country in North Africa as their first stop. That’s pretty awesome and bold! As inviting as Moroccan culture is, it is completely different from the day to day in Texas (our group was all from Austin) and you can easily feel overwhelmed with all the stimulation. Instead of feeling uncomfortable in the “unknown” everyone seemed to be open-minded, fascinated with the country and people, respectful of the different customs and norms, and extremely open to the experience of this magical journey.

Runcation vs a race: what do you think are some of the key similarities and differences? Or are they even comparable?
They overlap in the sense that they are both a journey, but I would say that a race is more about where you go internally while a runcation is about both where you go internally and physically. You’re discovering a country over an extended period of time on your feet, with time to interact with your surroundings, and without any pressure of making it to the finish line or beating your PR.

Sum up your Rogue Expeditions experience in one sentence:
A beautiful and challenging journey abroad that provided me the opportunity to not only (re)discover a country, but also discover parts of myself along the way.