Running is on fashion. I did not start when this running fever bloomed a few years ago, but when I became 13 and it was still called “jogging” or just “going for a run”. I have never reached the level of obsession that some new and old runners are reaching, so that when I prepare a trip I do not usually keep in mind if there is any interesting place to run. I say I do not usually because there are some places that are too iconic some people to call themselves runners and not go running in them, regardless of how many days we have. In New York there are two: Central Park and the Brooklyn Bridge, but there are some more that are worth it if we have time.
Someone active, who comes to Manhattan, and does not run through the most famous park in the world, will have something pending to do, although I admit that on my first visit I did not run, considering there was half meter of snow anywhere except the asphalt lanes. This park 4 km long and 800 m wide is an emblematic destination for any runner in the world, and a luxury for every New Yorker who enjoys this sport. Not only is it massive, but very diverse; there are areas with artificial lakes, bridges, stairs, a paved central lane… but in the northern area there are also parts that look like a forest, with dirt roads and dense vegetation. Further south there are always many people, which is increasingly scarce as we get closer to the north, but at no time, no matter how crowded, no one will pout us for running through the crowd.
The most popular area is the dirt track that surrounds the Jacqueline Kennedy Reservoir; It measures 2.54 km in circumference and must be run counterclockwise.
HUDSON RIVER GREENWAY
Although less known by visitors, it is the second most popular area for New Yorkers. This promenade stretches across the west side of Manhattan, from Battery Park on the southwestern tip of the island, to Inwood Hill Park at the northwest end of it, for no less than 21 km uninterrupted cycle, pedestrian and runners lane.
I admit that I have not covered it all, but it can be a challenge for those high level runners, since the distance corresponds exactly to that of a half marathon, completely flat.
From south to north the tour begins in Downtown with views of the Statue of Liberty, passing through the World Trade Center, TriBeCa, Greenwich, Hudson River Park in Chelsea, the Sea, Air and Space Museum in Hell’s Kitchen, Riverside Park along the Upper West Side, and the consecutive parks of Riverbank State, Fort Washington, Fort Tryon (where the Cloisters Museum is located) and Inwood Hill in Harlem, where the island ends. And anyone who feels strong enough can go back and run a complete marathon.
EAST RIVER AND ITS BRIDGES
There is no similar uninterrupted walk to the west. On my birthday in 2013 I ran from 79St to Brooklyn Heights, and I could see that in some sections there was no choice but to return to York Avenue.
Even so it is a charming area, since running on gigantic metal bridges is not something available to everyone, and it can be a good option for those who stay nearby. From north to south, the route is as follows:
- Bobby Wagner Walk. It begins in Harlem, at Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, at 125St. It continues to Carl Schurz Park, at 86th, for a distance of 3.5 km, where it is renamed John Finley Walk.
- John Finley Walk.
- It has good views of Roosevelt Island.
- Is short. It goes to Queensboro Bridge, in 60St, so it’s only 2 km.
- Although the entire east side is next to the FDR Drive, a street with a lot of traffic, this is the closest section, and perhaps for that reason the worst.
- Going south, we can:
- Continue on York Avenue, what I did.
- Or climb Queensboro Bridge and keep running on Roosevelt Island. The bridge’s pedestrian lane faces north, and the view is less interesting than to the south.
- East River Esplanade. It starts after United Nations building, at 41St, so if we come from the previous path we will have had to run 20 blocks through the city, which means having to stop at traffic lights and crossings. It’s twice as wide as John Finley Walk. It just gets to 25St, where it changes its name to East River Bikeway.
- From here everything goes smooth. The double bike and pedestrian lane is not interrupted at any point, even forks while passing through the East River Park. When we get to the Williamsburg Bridge we can:
- Climb, although you have to go into the city to Sufolk St and the views from the pedestrian lane are not the best, since there is a metal fence over two meters high that flanks it.
- Or go under it, and continue for several kilometers to reach the Manhattan Bridge, where we are again offered the same option:
- Run on it. You also have to go back to the base of the bridge and has a metal fence, but the proximity to the Brooklyn Bridge and Downtown makes the view much more recommendable than that on the previous bridge.
- Or keep going.
- And in a few minutes we will arrive at the mega-famous Brooklyn Bridge. We do are going to run on this one, so we have no choice but to go into the city until the entrance, to the start ramp, near City Hall. The bridge itself is not a good place to run, as it is often crowded with cyclists and tourists, so we will be forced to slow down or avoid passers-by. Once we have run its almost 2 km long, I recommend going down the stairs, not down the ramp, and turn into Brooklyn Bridge Park, a nice park with great views of Manhattan Skyline or even better, climb to Brooklyn Heights, which, although shorter, it has an even better view, since it goes through the same area from higher.
Brooklyn’s Central Park claims to be more authentic and wooded than its rich cousin. While personally I find it similar to any big park in any city, it can be a good option for those who wish to escape from the crowd, as it is very quiet.
Dedicated to my brother, a new runner, on his birthday. I hope this post serves you and you enjoy it as much as I did running through that magnificent city