Active City Spotlight: Running in New York

Central Park.

For an enormous city of 8 million, there's bound to be some sort of running presence in New York.

But the community of runners in the city exceeds most, population notwithstanding. With dozens of great races, good stores, an enormously popular club and great routes, New York is a fantastic place to be a runner.

Whether you're a New York resident, transplant or just visiting, here's what you need to know to enjoy running in New York City.

More: 8 Tips to Squeeze Your Runs in When You Travel

Places to Run

Of course, Central Park is the most popular running spot in New York.

A full loop of the park is a little more than 6 miles, and it features some rolling hills and plenty of scenery that allows you to leave the hectic city life if only for a little while. Vehicle traffic is closed in the park except during rush hour on weekdays. Even if you go while cars are allowed, though, there is a runner's lane.

If 6 miles is a little too long, there are many shortcuts you can take to make a loop as small as 2 miles.

Overall, though, a runner can't visit New York without going for at least one run at its most famous park. Don't miss out.

Other popular routes:

  • Astoria Park in Queens has a scenic loop of about 1.5 miles alongside the East River. There is also a track within the park.
  • Including the Brooklyn Bridge in your run is an idea you won't regret. Start at the Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn, cross over the bridge and then make your way to the East River Park in Manhattan. Stunning views.
  • The Riverside Park along the banks of the Hudson River ranges from 72nd to 158th Street in Manhattan, about 4 miles one way.

Races to Remember

The New York City Marathon, of course. It's one of the largest and most beloved marathons in the world. The demand is so high that most entries are obtained only through a lottery—despite opening up for more than 45,000 runners.

The marathon covers all five boroughs of the city, starting in Staten Island, crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge into Brooklyn, then heading into Queens before crossing the Queensboro Bridge in Manhattan. After a memorable trek up First Avenue, the race briefly goes into the Bronx before coming back down into Central Park for an iconic finish.

More: A Mile-by-Mile Look at the New York City Marathon

Other well-known races include:

  • The Brooklyn Half Marathon in May is also put on by the New York Road Runners. It starts at Prospect Park and finishes at the Coney Island boardwalk.
  • The Rock 'N' Roll Brooklyn 10K is in October and also takes place at Prospect Park.
  • The Escape to the Palisades Half Marathon across the river in Fort Lee, N.J., runs along the River Road in the shadow of the George Washington Bridge. It takes place in May.
  • The New York City 10K in September starts and finishes on Roosevelt Island.

Stores to Check Out

JackRabbit Sports has an expert staff and a large selection of gear from Mizuno, ASICS, New Balance and more. It also has free group runs, yoga classes and pilates classes. There are four locations—three in Manhattan (Upper East Side, Upper West Side and Union Square) and one in Brooklyn (151 7th Avenue).

Other running stores include:

  • New York Running Company, 1059 3rd Avenue
  • Super Runner's Shop, 1337 Lexington Avenue
  • Run by Foot Locker, 34 E. 14th Street

One Last Tip

The New York Road Runners is the centerpiece of the city's running community. Besides putting on dozens of events like the New York City Marathon, the organization also has training plans, a coaching program, classes and more. It sets a high bar for running clubs around the world.

More: 6 Tips for Running While You Travel

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