Active City Spotlight: Running in San Diego

From coastal beaches to fast and fun races, there are a number of options for the avid runner in San Diego. Here are some of the locations and events we suggest in America's Finest City.

Places to Run

Mission Bay Park is the place to be on a sunny day in San Diego (which most days are).

The park is located near both downtown to the south and the suburbs to the north. It has 27 miles of shoreline that hugs Mission Bay, where people are seen skiing, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and more.

For runners, though, it's the 14 miles of paved trails that are begging for you to explore. Many running races in San Diego, including the Rock 'N' Roll Marathon, put Mission Bay Park among its course map—because being active in San Diego undoubtedly means knowing this park well.

Other popular routes:

  • Mission Beach: The Ocean Front Walk in Pacific Beach and Mission Beach is perfect for a run along the shoreline. The 3.2-mile path starts at Law Street (just north of Crystal Pier) and goes south to the mouth of Mission Bay.
  • San Diego: Balboa Park is one of San Diego's treasures, and has more than 65 miles of paths (some dirt, some paved) to explore. Among the tourist attractions in the park is the famed San Diego Zoo and the Museum of Art.

Races to Remember

The Rock 'N' Roll marathon series has spread all over the world. But its roots are in San Diego.

The Rock 'N' Roll San Diego Marathon debuted in 1998 and has been one of the city's most popular races ever since. Though the course has changed over the years, it still covers some of San Diego's charming sights, including Balboa Park, Old Town, Mission Bay and downtown. The race finishes at PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres.

The 2013 edition on June 2nd is the 16th annual race.

Other well-known races include:

  • The Carlsbad 5,000 in April takes place about 30 minutes north of San Diego and is considered one of the fastest 5Ks in the world. About half of the course overlooks the ocean.
  • The America's Finest City Half Marathon in August is a point-to-point course that starts at Cabrillo National Monument on the tip of Point Loma. It winds along San Diego Bay and through downtown before finishing at Balboa Park.
  • The La Jolla Half Marathon starts at the San Diego County Fairgrounds, passes through Torrey Pines and finishes near La Jolla Cove. Beware—there are some gnarly hills in this race.

Stores to Check Out

Movin Shoes has long been one of San Diego's most trusted local running stores. And that has allowed the business to expand. There are now three stores in the county—in Pacific Beach (1892 Garnet), La Mesa (6105 Lake Murray Blvd.) and in Encinitas (897 S. Coast Highway).

Other running stores include:

  • Road Runner Sports is a nationwide chain, but it started in San Diego and its location at 5553 Copley Drive is the company's headquarters.
  • The Running Center (2584 El Camino Real) in Carlsbad.
  • New Balance Cardiff (2009 Newcastle Ave.) in Cardiff-by-the-Sea.

One Last Tip

Are you a trail runner? San Diego has plenty of great spots. Try the San Dieguito River Park, which has trails stretching 55 miles inland starting near Del Mar. Other great trails are at the Los Penasquitos Canyon in Carmel Valley and Lake Calavera in Carlsbad.

More: 6 Tips for Running While You Travel

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About the Author

Ryan Wood

Ryan Wood is an editor for He enjoys a good ride and loves participating in endurance events throughout the year. Follow him on Google+.
Ryan Wood is an editor for He enjoys a good ride and loves participating in endurance events throughout the year. Follow him on Google+.

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