Recently, I read an article listing the top 5 worst places to run in NYC. It was a fairly quick read, and I skimmed through the minor points of the article. There were some parts where I found myself nodding in agreement. Yes, the Brooklyn Bridge is a tourist trap, and everyone wants to visit Times Square. Tourists from all over visit these places to get the full NYC experience. They need pictures of themselves here so they can show off to the rest of their friends on Instagram. You shouldn’t run in these areas if you are shy about bumping in to people.
Now I’m going to be a hypocrite. I’ll tell you about my perspective from running through these tourist hotspots. Before I moved to Manhattan, I was accustomed to running through the suburbs of Southern California and the beaches on Hawaii. Running on the Brooklyn Bridge and through Times Square (even in mid day when everyone is out) is what makes running in NYC memorable.
During my first run throughout Manhattan, I was expecting to stay on a calm trail away from people. Most people run towards these type of trails; they want to get away from people and run to gather their thoughts. I was new to the city, so maybe a short stop near Central Park was all I expected. This couldn’t be further from my reality. The truth is that my first run was with all my teammates, I got a full full round trip tour of the city with people I just met. Moving to the city itself was already overwhelming, and this run just added on to the fun.
We started off through Chelsea Piers on the West Side of Manhattan, and we ran through the bike trail. Running anywhere near the bike trail evidently pisses off every New Yorker. I’ve grown accustomed to being yelled at and called names by NYC biker’s now that it doesn’t bother me. Anywhere I go now, people can yell at me during my run. I simply shrug my shoulders and yawn. It’s hillarious. Keep in mind that this was my first time really exploring Manhattan. I had no idea where to go, but thankfully about 25 other dudes around me knew the route.
View from Chelsea Piers
We went up through the West Side Highway and made a right around 59th street to head down a couple of avenues. Now we found ourselves at Central Park. We were both ridiculed and cheered for wearing our NYU uniform during the run.
When I visited NYU for the first time, it was still during the Winter. Well actually, it was in April, so Spring was starting up. Regardless, it was very cold. Winter NYC and Spring/Summer/Generally Warm NYC feature completely different atmospheres. For one, the warmth is what brings everything to life and color in Manhattan. Everyone is out ready to enjoy or complain (this is NYC after all) about their day. Winter NYC is when the color fades away. Everything is grey, everyone is cold (physically and emotionally). The fountain at Washington Square Park is turned off, all of the crazy antics performed by street performers are nonexistent (but are found in the subways). At least during this time, you’re less likely to be scammed by someone offering you their mixtape.
Back to the adventure,
Now that I was able to come back for my first year at NYU, I immersed myself into what warm NYC had to offer. During the Central Park aspect of our run, we looped around the Sheep Meadow. This is where you’ll find all of the New Yorkers lounging around Central Park as if it’s like a beach. Seriously, you’ll see a ton of people out tanning and playing volleyball or whatever you would usually do at a beach in this part of the field. Yes. We ran through this area, and dodged all of the tourists. But what better way than to explore NYC firsthand. For the New Yorker’s resting in the field, I have no doubt they were shocked to see about 25+ young men running around in their short shorts together.
After our Central Park stint, we cut down Broadway and found ourselves at 42nd street Times Square. I didn’t think it was possible to run through this area, especially in the summer time, and during the day…but we somehow managed to do so. This was my favorite part of the run, I could see all kinds of different tourists, scammers, and locals (mostly tourists) in this block. Times Square is just what all of the commercials and magazines depict it as. It’s a giant commercial filled empire linked together by numerous chain restaurants and other expensive things. We didn’t have time to get lost in the hooplah that all of the other tourists indulge themselves in. We didn’t stop to take our picture with an odd looking Iron Man or Elmo character dress up, but we did get to run right past the famous Naked Cowboy on the street.
Pro tip, avoid the people dressed up as popular characters you see in movies and on T.V. You’ll probably avoid them all together, since their costumes have bloodshot eyes. It’s creepy.
Keep in mind that throughout this entire run, there is of course, multiple encounters with taxi drivers. These taxis don’t wait for anybody. Just like everything else in the city, they’re in a rush and are frantically driving to their destination to drop off their tourists and pick up their next round of guests. This means that while we’re running in our pack of 25+ runners, we without a doubt have to cut these people off. It’s their fault for just jumping the gun and not looking out for pedestrians. A lot of the older guys on my team will even slide off of the top of these cars (not just taxis). I still need to try this, it looks very dangerous and extremely fun. Isn’t that what risks are all about?
At the end of our run we made our way back downtown to Mercer Street. This is where the NYU Sports Center was located and where we go to stretch, do some strides and shower post run. The sports center has since moved to Union Square. I still remember how one of my freshman teammates told us how he got lost. Yet he was able to find his way back to the NYU area. He was even surprised at how he found it, I have no clue how he survived the tourist trap destinations still to this day. This was my first run throughout the major parts of Manhattan, and it still remains as my favorite run of all time. If I had a friend who was a runner come to visit me, and he wanted me to take him through all of the cliche tourist spots. I wouldn’t hesitate to take him on this run.
- Start: Mercer Street
- Chelsea Piers
- Continue Up Westside Highway
- Cut through Central Park
- Loop down through Times Square
- Go down Broadway back to downtown Manhattan