Escape Artists offers up a global discourse ranging from great finds close to home to adventures far afield. You'll find weekly travel deals here, too. Share your road wisdom, rave about great finds and rant about roadblocks that get in the way of a great trip.

Contributor: Travel editor Kerri Westenberg.

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Posts about Adventure travel

Running guru needed at Westin Hotels

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg Updated: June 19, 2013 - 10:16 AM

Runners who like to travel should read on. Westin Hotels has one slot for a very special job: running concierge. It is a bit of an oddball job. While the job requires marathon experience, a positive outlook and an ability to engage with people, there are no mention of marathon work days, not that it'll be a stroll in the park. Here's what the press release had to say:


Hundreds of Qualified Applicants Battle for the Coveted Role of the RunWESTIN Concierge Through Partnership with Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series

It’s the job runners have been training for all their lives, and now there are just two weeks left to apply! Westin® Hotels is nearing the finish line in its search for its first-ever resident running expert. The global hotel brand is actively seeking experienced, passionate runners to join them on the road and serve as the on-site running expert for Westin VIPs participating in select Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series events. More than 400 candidates have been vetted for the sought-after role and additional runners are encouraged to apply at through June 30, 2013.

This fall the chosen candidate will begin the journey of a lifetime, traveling to over 10 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon destinations across the U.S. to give Westin guests a leg up on the competition. From pre-race training to the finish line, the RunWESTIN Concierge will act as a personal marathon coach, engaging with runners and sharing training and race advice, leading warm-up runs and lending recovery tips.

“Speaking as a passionate runner, the RunWESTIN Concierge is a dream job for running enthusiasts,” said Brian Povinelli, Global Brand Leader for Westin Hotels & Resorts and Le Meridien. “It’s an extraordinary opportunity to travel to amazing cities doing exactly what you love while inspiring others along the way, and get paid for it.”

The search for the RunWESTIN Concierge is not limited to hospitality experts. Avid runners with a passion for travel are encouraged to apply. The key qualifications include a positive, charismatic personality with a natural ability to engage and motivate others, a strong familiarity with social media and experience in completing multiple marathons. In this role, the concierge will be responsible for sharing their in-depth knowledge of marathon running and training to improve performance and build and maintain rapport with Westin guests through social media.

Final Call to the Starting Line: Apply Now
It is not too late to be considered for this job of a lifetime. Westin is issuing a “last call” for applications for the RunWestin Concierge position. The search is scheduled to continue through June 30.

To apply, each candidate must submit an application as well as complete Westin’s Running Questionnaire by June 30. Ten quarter-finalists will be asked to submit a video of up to three minutes that demonstrates their training philosophy and vibrant personality. The five semi-finalists will be invited to interview in-person at Starwood Corporate Headquarters and three finalists will receive a trip to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Chicago to prove that they should be chosen to become the new RunWESTIN Concierge. The winner will make their first appearance at the Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, September 13-15.

Think you have what it takes? Apply at

Westin Hits the Road with RunWESTIN®
Reaffirming its commitment to guests’ health and wellness, Westin has partnered with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series to offer a collection of premier marathon packages designed to remove the stresses of traveling for a race so runners can focus on their run and perform at their best, especially for first time racers. The partnership, which builds on Westin’s existing RunWESTIN program, allows race participants to book a personalized VIP marathon experience in key markets across North America.

Starting June 20, guests can purchase the VIP Marathon Package designed to help runners meet their personal goals with ultimate comfort and convenience. The package is available in seven race markets in 2013 including Montreal, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, with additional 2014 races included on a rolling basis. Catering to both experienced and novice marathoners, the VIP Marathon Package offers everything from VIP race bib pick up, pre-race pasta dinners, access to the brand’s VIP Recovery Tent and ice bags delivered to guest rooms post-race, all designed to provide runners with the ultimate race experience.

For more information on Westin Hotels & Resorts, please visit, Facebook or follow Westin on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube

Canopy tour to open in Minnesota River Valley

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg Updated: May 22, 2013 - 2:07 PM




A canopy tour featuring two suspension bridges and nine zip lines overlooking the Minnesota River Valley will open June 14. Kerfoot Canopy Tours will operate on land that includes a 120 feet-deep ravine along the Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway near Belle Plaine and Henserson, Minn. During the two-hour-plus tours, guides will share information on the trees and birds of the region, including eagles and hawks, and how the valley was formed. "You get the thrill of zip lining, but you also get the educational aspect," said owner Lee Kerfoot. How thrilling? The longest zip will stretch 1,150 feet. But tours will warm up with smaller runs, allowing customers to ease into the experience. Kerfoot Canopy Tours will be open year-round. Cost is $89 per tour, or $299 for a season pass, which is good for unlimited tours at the Henderson location and at the Towering Pines Canopy Tour, which opened at Gunflint Lodge near Grand Marais last summer. Tours begin June 14, but you can book now at the website.

SUP vs. Subaru

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg Updated: August 28, 2012 - 10:46 AM

Zooming north on I-35 with a stand-up paddleboard atop your Subaru Outback, with the securing straps humming in the wind, is not the time to first search for videos about how to secure a board to your car roof. I'm the travel editor; I should know better. I should have prepared. But, well, there were so many other details to attend to before departing on our long trip Up North that I overlooked that little -- okay, vital -- item. So in the morning, I strapped on the board the same way I do for the five-block trip to Lake Harriet and took off. Who knew that 65 miles per hour could prove so much more harrowing than 20 mph. The straps screamed in a high-pitched tune, occasionally slapping at the car roof. We pulled off, considered returning the board to our garage, then instead tightened it up and gingerly headed north. That's when I used my phone to log onto youtube, outwardly calm but inwardly frantic.

It seemed I had done a fairly good job of it, though the fin should have been at the front in case the board slipped backward (it would have been caught by the first strap in that case). By the time we stopped in Duluth for a break, I felt confident. And indeed, we made it to our destination and home again, though by the time we turned off  the engine back in Minneapolis, that nice relaxed feeling you go on vacation to achieve had been stripped away as we nervously eyed the board through the sunroof all the way home.

True, the paddleboard was a boon to our vacation. We used it nearly every day. And we'll take it with us again. Next time, though, we'll be truly prepared. Last week I finally did what I should have done before the trip. I went to REI, asked the pros, and bought a cheap set of foam pads for our car rack and a Yakima SUP brah (I know, makes you think of a different support item, right?) that secures the bow and stern to the front and back of the car. We're geared up right, brah!


A dozen weeks on the road

Posted by: Updated: July 25, 2012 - 4:17 PM
Maybe four years in Peoria, Ill., simply ignites wanderlust.
Stephen Bruning grew up in Minnesota, first around Cedar and then Long Lake. After graduating from Bradley University in 2008 in Peoria, he and his former roommate took to the road earlier this year -- embarking on a 12-week, 11,000 mile journey across the western United States between Feb. 29 andf May 20.
 Now working as a photographer -- shooting concerts, graduations and marathons -- Bruning pointed his lens at America.
"From big city to rural America, we witnessed a country in motion toward the pursuit of adventure," he writes in an e-mail. "The goal of this trip was simply to learn more.  More about ourselves, more about our country, more about life."

Among the highlights: "sunrise surfing in Malibu, falling into a 20-foot snowdrift at Crater Lake, getting robbed in Seattle, lost within the Redwoods at dusk and sword fighting with whale rib bones on the Oregon Coast."

Along with former college roommate Derek Karnatz, he says, "we aquired a lifetime’s worth of lessons in three months.  These experiences have changed the way I view the world and my ideas for what is truly possible with a goal and a little imagination."

He's boiled it down in a 77-second video that's well worth your time. So click on this link and live a little, vicariously: Stir Enthusiasm


A trip to build on

Posted by: Kerri Westenberg Updated: July 17, 2012 - 3:24 PM



Nice things happen whem groups collaborate. Case in point:  Groupon Getaways, the nifty groupon site that offers discounted vacations; Groupon Grassroots, Groupon's philanthropic arm; and buildOn, a non-profit that provides after-school service programs for American students and builds schools in impoverished communities overseas, have come together to offer a pretty cool groupon deal. For $2,583, you can travel to Nicaragua or Nepal on a 7-day all-inclusive trip to help build a school for a community in need.  With that fee, you also sponsor an American inner-city student who is a part of buildOn's afterschool program to make the trip, too. For altruistic travelers, it's a win-win-win. The price of the trip includes meals, lodging with a host family and local travel. Fifteen slots available: there are 9 days and 7 hours left.


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