This year I’ve had an unusual number of business trips to New York City. I used to run along the East River, but have gotten spooked over some crime reports that made it into my Facebook feed. Instead, I’ve been running in Central Park.
1. It’s centrally located. Yes, it’s called central park for a reason–it’s pretty much in the center of Manhattan. The south end is almost exactly one mile from the hotel I usually stay at, and I like to run up 5th Avenue so I can do some window shopping on the way.
2. It’s packed with runners. According to Google, the population of Manhattan is almost three times that of Washington, D.C. Even keeping that in mind, I am always amazed at how many runners there are in Central Park at dark o’clock on a weekday morning. There are individuals, friends, and groups–and that’s not including the cyclists whizzing by in the bike lanes.
There was a stream of runners on the road on the right.
3. It’s closed to cars. One reason so many runners and cyclists can use Central Park so easily is because the roads are closed to cars until 7:00 am. The cyclist in me is jealous of having such a great place to ride without worrying about traffic or pedestrians, since there are separate wide bike lanes.
4. It’s beautiful. Running in Central Park is the best of running in a city and the country combined. Near the north and south ends, the view is occupied with the city skyline. In the middle, you could easily forget that you are in the heart of the Big Apple. My favorite views capture both.
5. There are options for 1.5 to 6 mile loops. If you run the entire loop made by East Drive and West Drive, it’s about 6 miles around the park. When I stay at my usual hotel I usually start at the south end and run to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir–or around it if I have time. On my last trip my hotel was closer to the park, and I was able to run all the way to the north end. The Central Park website has a running map with several 1.5, 4, and 5 mile loops, and there are many more options using the paths instead of just the roads.
Bonus reason. It’s in New York City. Running in Central Park you see a slice of New York City. Among the runners, there are running groups, people fitting in runs in before work, and students. Along the paths, there are people walking their dogs, tourists getting a head start on the day, and homeless people. On my last trip, I swear I saw two butlers (?) stopping the bike traffic so the dogs in their care could get out of the park. It was like Make Way For Ducklings, but with dogs crossing the road!
Do you have a favorite place to run?