For those following this monthly post about running around New York City, I encourage you to email me with suggestions about places to explore.
We are planning a run from Manhattan to CitiField, as well as
some running around Staten Island, which is only 8 miles from North to South in
But for this month, especially after marveling in the changing of the leaves, I wanted to write about Central Park, which I realized I had neglected!
This comes on the heels of a windy but fun NYC Marathon (which I finished in a personal best time, despite the wind), as well as having family ask me to give them some pointers on different distance routes to take.
I guess I assume that everyone knows Central Park for running.
Some runners I speak to rarely leave the park, rarely explore what else is reachable by subway or foot.
others hardly explore the park itself!
The main takeaways for those of you who want to explore Central Park with a little more confidence:
1) The “big loop” around the park is 6 miles, full of rolling hills and changing scenery.
It would be hard to find a more lovely, challenging place to train for all manner of races.
At every time of year, you will notice different things.
We’re just finishing the changing of leaves, when the park is afire with orange, gold, red, and greens.
The park will become a winter wonderland, and some of the interior spaces usually covered by leaves will reveal themselves.
Normally that’s all that is revealing itself – the Park is pretty tame, otherwise.
The long winter is made more enjoyable by the park loop, kept pretty clear of ice.
Once the spring arrives, the blooming of flowers is remarkable, and an incredible way to start or end a day.
summer, everything is humid and lush, greens beyond greens.
Some people, of course,
will want to build up to the full six miles, so…
2) There are two “transverses,” one at 72nd Street and one at 102nd Street, and a 1.7 mile lower loop between 59th and 72nd Streets.
These cuts-through allow you to create 4-mile routes, or 5-mile routes.
The “inside” 4-mile loop has many challenging hills, included the dreaded “cat hill,” which is a 1/4 mile steep hill between 72nd and 80th Streets on the East Side.
It’s not that bad
102nd Street takes you over the ball fields above 96th Street.
Both transverses give you some nice vistas and aromas – normally the horses on 72nd Street (not my favorite smell), and flowers on 102nd Street.
3) Great water fountains and bathroom pit stops!
From April 1st to November 1st, the water fountains are on.
They are all over the place, which is a nice feature when it warms up.
Year-round, starting around 7am, the bathrooms are open.
Favorites include the boathouse and near the theatre on the East Side.
The reservoir water fountains do get a bit crowded when it’s very hot!
Speaking of the reservoir –
reservoir is an incredible treat.
At only 1.5 miles or so, it makes for a nice way to tack on mileage.
After rains, it gets a little puddly, when I tend to avoid it.
Regardless, it is the most picturesque gem of a run.
A little busy; try to hit it early.
People watching galore, as well as great views of 5th Avenue and Central Park West buildings, depending on your side.
The Bridle path loop is a little complicated to find.
It’s hiding in plain sight, next to the loop, but on the map it’s a dotted white line – easy on the joints, and quiet at times, compared to the loop.
It doesn’t go all the way around the park, but is about 2.5 miles down, and 2.5 miles back.
Really fun, and a nice change of pace!
6) If you can train on Harlem Hill, you can conquer any marathon!
Harlem Hill is a challenge in either direction, though perhaps harder to ride on a bicycle than to run!
Tucked away at the top of Central Park, Harlem Hill has some great downhills, but also a wicked hill as you run counterclockwise.
It’s less busy, mostly because people fear the unknown.
Have fun with it!
As a real estate guy, I’ve enjoyed watching the skyscrapers grow along 57th Street, from One57 to 432 Park, with many more on the horizon, both literally and figuratively.
Central Park to be the beating heart of New York, and I would encourage you to take full advantage of it!
Email me with any running questions and I look forward to running into you soon.