Running in Central Park

While Sam was in Mexico for the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, I was in New York. Anita joined me for the weekend. I was here for the New Jersey VegFest, an amazing event with lots of delicious vegan food served up by compassionate people who eat like they care. My talk, “Feminist Fitness Is for Everyone…Including Vegans,” was on the Saturday 1 p.m.

So we had loads of time to eat, chat with people, present, chat some more, eat some more, take the transit back to the Port Authority in midtown Manhattan, walk and walk and walk, attend a Broadway musical (School of Rock), people watch in Times Square, and make our way home to our friends’ place in Chelsea where we were staying, fall into bed at 1 a.m. And that was just Saturday. The talk went well. The play was entertaining and lively. Times Square was packed full, perfect for kicking back and watching the diverse crowd from all over the world.

Sunday morning we got up early, though a bit later than planned, to go running in Central Park. In Manhattan you absolutely need to find a place to run off-road because otherwise you’ll be stop and go. You also need enough space not to have to stuck in a back log of shuffling crowds. It can be frustrating just to walk sometimes.

We were staying way down at 20th Street. Our plan was to treat the trek up to Central Park as our “commute,” knowing that at certain points it would be busy or we would be stuck at stop lights. Once in the Park, we wanted to make our way to the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, which was quite far in, all the way at 82nd Street. Our minimum distance was supposed to be 10K (we are prepping for the Toronto Scotiabank Waterfront Half Marathon in a couple of weeks).

Overcast skies kept us from seriously overheating on a humid day. When we finally got into Central Park it was just like in the movies (tons of runners, pedestrians, and cyclist). Outside of an event, I’ve honestly never seen so many people running and cycling on a Sunday morning. Anita and I got caught up in the energy and momentum, following the natural flow of people while stopping on occasion to see if we were anywhere near the Reservoir, which seemed like a great destination because we could make a loop.

I wasn’t especially well-prepared, with water but no food. That is not normally something I would do for such a long run, and I soon began to regret it. Luckily we were in Central Park, and unlike London, Ontario, there are vendors along the way. When we got to the part of the Park level with the Metropolitan Museum, I bought a salted pretzel, right combo of salt and carbs to hit the spot.

From there we found the Reservoir. It’s a body of water with a running path around it, bigger than it looks on the map.


Our original plan was to run all the way around it but by then we’d been out for quite some time and it looked dauntingly far. So instead, we took a soft path a little further out from the Reservoir. If you have never been to Central Park, it’s massive. No doubt those who run there regularly have their favourite paths to follow and preferred training routes for runs of varied distances. It’s not flat terrain by any stretch. We went up and down and up and down a lot.

The later it got, the more bike traffic we had to contend with too. It’s a shared road, with bikes and runners, but with people going different speeds a lot of passing takes place. And if you need to cross the street, it can actually be quite treacherous passing in front of bike traffic, dealing with bikes being ridden by people with different levels of skill.

Anita would have kept going further up into the park but finally I looked at my watch and we’d been out for an hour already. The pretzel was all fine and well but it wasn’t exactly a meal. So we turned around and started making our way back to the lower edge of the park, where we called it a day and started our “commute” back, stopping at Rockefeller Plaza to have a satisfying brunch at a vegan chain called By Chloe (recommended to us the day before by someone we met on the bus on our way to the VegFest).

You can cover a lot of ground in New York City, but much of it is in stop and go people traffic. But Central Park is just like I imagined it would be for running, based on my past experiences of walking through the park and on what I’d seen before in the movies. It’s full of winding paths, varied terrain, and loads of people,  The Reservoir looks like a fantastic place to include in your run, even though in the end Anita and I decided against because we really had run quite far already by the time we got there.

I have to say that the crowds did make me appreciate my familiar route in London, Ontario. But New York is an incredible city and now that I’ve had the experience of running in Central Park I’ll do it again (next time I’ll do the Reservoir).

Image description: Tracy and Anita, both short hair and smiling, Anita looking at Tracy, trees and Reservoir in the background.
Image description: Tracy and Anita, both short hair and smiling, Anita looking at Tracy, trees and Reservoir in the background.

Do you like running in Central Park (if you ever have?)?

One thought on “Running in Central Park

  1. Back when I ran, I loved running around the resovoir. Occasionally been annoyed at the one direction thing but it’s a great running loop. Also had a great ride through the park during the Five Borough Bike Tour

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