Bugaboo Runner one-liner: the Rolls-Royce SUV of running prams due to sound performance, cosy seat and durable construction. If you can spare $1k, I highly recommend.
Why take up pram running?
Combining exercise and childminding responsibilities is priceless. The benefit to fitness mainly comes on inclines where you’ll quickly notice the extra work for your lungs, quads and back muscles. Your child thrive in an outdoor setting even if preciously close to rolling into the river.
In terms of the downsides…
– Suburban streets are often too narrow
– Running prams are pricey
– toddlers often choose to destroy their nappy mid-run
What am I looking for in a pram?
I think a running pram should be used for running only. Ideally I am after the following:
– Lightweight (<10kg) and smooth ride
– Fixed front wheel
– Durable enough for long and rough runs
– Easy assembly and disassembly for car transport.
Do not be lured by less important features such as cup holders, rain covers, platform for #2 child and even an adjustable front wheel.
Popular models range from $600-1,000. These are Mountain Buggy Terrain, Thule Glide, Baby Jogger and Bugaboo Runner. The reality is that all of these are roughly the same weight, same price reasonably functional. My advice is either try before you buy, or go with what a friend uses.
Bugaboo Runner Review
The Bugaboo Runner retails for $1,099. It’s my 2nd pram following a tragic 5 weeks with no-name NZ-made Phil & Ted Sub-4. If you go with a Tier 2 brand offering 50% off, beware. The pram was wobbly, unsafe and fell apart after 4 runs. My daughter survived the ordeal but will never again trust any man called Phil. She’s OK with Ted.
Bugaboo is easily recognisable by the doughnut-shaped logo and natural adjacency to Lululemon wearing parents (mum and dads) driving German-made SUVs in the nicer parts of the city. Few times do you see a fashion brand successfully enter fitness. Apple for one, failed in this attempt.
You can see how the beautiful teal cover, bumper bar and sleek aluminium frame says to observers ‘I only buy the best for my baby’.
I have built pram running into my weekly schedule. Typically 20k runs, once per week. Other tests include two 10k races, multiple nappy changes and 6 collisions with street lamps. The daughter is now a professional crash test dummy.
The Bugaboo Runner (BR) can be assembled without a manual – mainly because I forced my wife to do it. The main parts are the chassis, aluminium frame, wheels, seat and cover plus a bunch of optional stuff.
It’s immediately obvious that the build quality is solid. Breaks (tick), no rubbing disc pads (tick) and large back wheels for mounting (tick). I’ve notice the pram has a low centre of gravity which then stops reckless dads (like me) from injuring toddlers by toppling over.
Website has the technical specifications – no point repeating that. The interesting features to me are:
– Large storage basket with little pockets for my phone
– Handlebar very easy to adjust for height
– Seat is reversible providing viewing versatility for the child
– it is very compact when properly folded and de-wheeled.
I am a little annoyed by:
– Difficulty in steering during a casual walk
– Pumping the tyres is awkard with my bike pump
– Foot brake seems to get jammed when it is activated
BR is a real pleasure on my typical 90 min flat runs. I’ve landed on 1-2 pram runs per week and nothing more else the running form may be suffer.
Key observations during such runs are:
– almost no resistance on flats and downhills
– does not get stuck on pot holes and small bumps
– lots of jolt when dismounting curbs (arguably not designed to do so)
– child has never ever complained about discomfort
Through trial and error, I tend to alternate arms and run to the side of the pram. Using two hands is bad for the back and sometimes my feet will clip the back. Ascending hills is a horrible experience and requires two hands and an arched back.
What did I do? I tested the BR was firstly tested at a 5k Park Run (300 runners), followed by a 10k Club Run at (120 runners).
The BR is great for racing and particularly after my 10k, I am convinced pram running should be mainstream. The only dangers are 1) crowds, and 2) hills. What I liked was that the pram’s low rolling resistance and ergonomic setup enabled me to quickly build momentum on the flats.
I’m yet to discover whether a front or back facing child is more aerodynamic. Here I am at a Sydney Striders 10k fun run running away from a suspicious looking elderly gentleman.
In this 10k race, I completed the 10k in 35:55 (3:34 min/k). This is 20s/k slower than my 10k PB (same course) and roughly equal to my marathon pace. This 20s/k gap may be a good guide to bench-marking pram performance. Meanwhile, the daughter had absolutely no issues with the faster-than-usual pace and babbled the whole time. Another win.
Could the pram be used for a 42.2k marathon? Easily.
Areas for improvement
– Smoother suspension
– Could be lighter to optimise race performance
– Higher weight limit than 20kg
Rather than applying an arbitrary scoring system, I will just cover off on the key questions:
Does it ride smooth? Yes
Is it durable? Yes
Is the baby ever complaining? No
Can I run my natural running form? Yes
Does it pack into my small car? Yes
I give the Bugaboo Runner an overall score of 4/5.
This is what you would expect for a high end and well credentialed brand.
I am happy to attempt a 21.1k and 42.2k race with Trinity using the Bugaboo Runner. There is little incentive to try competitor prams as 1) I don’t think I would get performance gains, and 2) I can’t afford it.
Hidden disclaimer to protect my integrity: Bugaboo sent me the pram for free. I do however own (and paid for) the Bugaboo Bee3.