2013-11-22 / Columnists

Go Parks! Options Off The Beach

Go Running!
By Peter Birke


City skyline at your side when you run in Hunters Point South Waterfront Park, Queens. City skyline at your side when you run in Hunters Point South Waterfront Park, Queens. The 2013 NYC Marathon is over but that does not mean the running season has come to an end.

Running is an excellent way to stay in shape and explore the natural splendors NYC Parks offer. Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner looking to discover new routes or a novice wondering where to begin, here is a guide for great running routes across the city:

Queens

Flushing Meadows Corona Park is bustling with all types of activity— including an extensive network of running paths. The paths take you past many of the park’s main attractions, including Arthur Ashe Stadium, the Queens Museum of Art, and the World’s Fair Unisphere.

Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park was just recently completed, but it's already one of my favorites for running. Its running path along the East River provides great views of the Manhattan skyline. The park has a brand new, 13,000 square foot, pavilion with comfort stations and a cafĂ© where you can purchase post-run refreshments.


Beautiful views near the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir in Cen- tral Park. Photo by Daniel Avila Beautiful views near the Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir in Cen- tral Park. Photo by Daniel Avila Brooklyn

Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is a popular running locale. When it comes to routes, you have plenty of options to enjoy the park’s rolling meadows, woods and ponds. My favorite is the 3.36 mile run along the paved inner loop. The path provides you with a great survey of the park’s attractions including a sneak peak at Lakeside, the new skating rink and entertainment complex which is scheduled to open by the end of the year.

Known for its beach, hot dogs and amusement parks, Coney Island is also a destination for runners. Run along the Coney Island boardwalk for great views of the Atlantic Ocean, the historic Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone. Crowds thin out on the boardwalk during the cold weather months, making it a good time to run.


Track and field practice in Van Cortlandt Park. Photo by Malcolm Pinckney Track and field practice in Van Cortlandt Park. Photo by Malcolm Pinckney Manhattan

We’ve all been to Central Park for Shakespeare, the zoo or the museums, but it’s also a prime running spot. Run around its 6 mile perimeter or challenge yourself with a trail run through the Ramble, the 38 acre maze of winding paths and dense woods. The Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir Loop is an iconic Central Park running path. Its 1.5 mile loop provides great glimpses of the towering buildings on Central Park West and Fifth Avenue.

If you are training for a marathon or trying to build up your stamina, the Hudson River Greenway is a good bet. It stretches for 12 miles along Manhattan’s West Side. There is never a dull moment along the route. On one side you are flanked by the towering Manhattan urban landscape, on the other lies the vast Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades.

Bronx

Perhaps the most challenging crosscountry course in the country can be found in the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park. Celebrating its 100th birthday, the grueling, 3.1 mile course has garnered national acclaim for its rugged terrain and has become a rite of passage for high school cross-country runners. The course is located on the west side of the park off of the Henry Hudson Parkway.

The temperature is dropping, but that doesn't mean you need to head indoors. You can run outdoors throughout the winter provided that you take the proper precautions.

First, dress in several thin layers, including a hat and gloves. Avoid wearing cotton, which doesn’t wick moisture or insulate heat very well. Second, wear a windbreaker to protect yourself against strong winds and precipitation. Third, wear shoes with good traction and look out for icy patches along the path. Fourth, make sure to hydrate and stretch before your run.

Finally, run with a partner! A companion helps to pass the time and can encourage you when the going gets tough. If you can’t find a partner, let someone know where you are running and how long you expect it to take.

For more information on places to run in NYC Parks, go to www.nycgovparks.org/highlights/places-to-go/running

So what are you waiting for? Go laceup your shoes, Go running, and Go Park!

Peter Birke is an Urban Fellow in NYC Park's Office of Management and Budget

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