It is long-run season for so many runners who are training for fall marathons and everyone knows that a long run can be a something of a chore. Well, here is a 15 mile adventure for you to explore if you are so inclined!
This challenging and rewarding run takes you from the foot of the Queensboro bridge on the Queens side, through Astoria, past La Guardia Airport (yes, the airport!), along the World’s Fair Marina and onwards to the Mets’ Citifield. And yet, it can be so much more as you will soon see!
Here is a snapshot of the entire route – 15 miles long – with a few bonus miles if you want.
(Run 9/2/17) This route begins on the corner of Crescent St. and Queens Plaza North on the Queens side of the Queensboro Bridge recreational path.
Here is a closeup of the route from the start (marked by the green and white marker) heading north on Crescent Ave. The red line on the left was my return route from Astoria Park.
You’ll head northeast on Crescent St. until you reach the end at 20th Ave where you will turn right and head southeast on 20th Ave. for about a mile and a half then you will bear right and continue as 20th Ave. becomes 75th St.
This is the route on 20th Ave. to the transition to 75th St. Its a little tricky when described, so hopefully this map makes things clearer.
In about a quarter mile, you’ll reach Astoria Blvd. where you will turn left.
In another quarter mile, you’ll make a right on Ditmars Blvd./82nd St.
Cross over the Grand Central Parkway and then make a left on the first street you encounter, 23rd Ave.
Follow 23rd Ave. until a traffic circle and bear right to Ditmars Blvd. Past the airport hotels, head left at 27th Ave. to the pedestrian bridge entrance that crosses over the Grand Central Parkway.
The transition from Astoria to the area adjacent to LaGuardia Airport is featured above. Pay attention to the outbound, or lower, line which lines up with the directions in this post.
On the other side of the pedestrian bridge is a recreational path that runs along the World’s Fair Marina. Follow this around until you reach two concrete, tent-like structures and turn right to take the road under Northern Blvd. to the CitiField parking lot (you should be able to spot Citifield easily at this point).
Follow your nose to the southeast corner of the stadium. This is the corner closest to the 7 train’s Mets-Willets Point station and the Home Run Apple. Then you can celebrate reaching your halfway point!
This is the detail of the run along the seldom-used World’s Fair Marina Promenade to Citi Field. I consider it a boon for runners looking for a waterside view during their outing. The little notch near the pedestrian bridge crossing is where we stopped to use the Dunkin Donuts bathroom.
Before turning back, I’d recommend having a bit of fun in the parking lot. This will be especially fun for baseball fans.
For those of you who don’t remember, Citi Field was completed in 2009 and replaces the old Shea Stadium on what used to be Shea’s parking lot. As a result, Shea used to stand where Citi Field’s parking lot is now. To commemorate this, the owners have placed bronze base plaques in the parking lot to mark where the original bases used to be. See my running path for the location of these bases as I pretended to hit a home run off of David Cone to win the NLCS for the Dodgers in 1988.
Here is a somewhat helpful representation of where the Shea Stadium bronze bases are. As you can see, I ran from the Home Run Apple to home plate, hit my home run, trotted around the bases, then immediately went to the mound to pitch to my running partners who graciously played batter and catcher to complete the baseball fantasy portion of my long run.
Completing the run basically entails going back the way you came. However, if you wanted to mix it up or to add miles, you can also do one of the following:
1. Extend your run to the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Park (an extra 1.75 miles round trip for a total of just under 17 miles). From the Home Run Apple, you can continue running across the street or through the Mets-Willets Point Station up to the boardwalk that leads to Flushing Meadows Park. Once in the park, make a right, running along the US Tennis Center perimeter until you see the Unisphere (the big metallic model of the Earth) and do a loop around it.
A sideways look at how to get to the Unisphere from the Home Run Apple at Citi Field.
2. Head back via Astoria Park (a paltry .75 miles tacked on so totally worth it). On the way back (around mile 13), head to Astoria Park and run along the East River instead of coming back down Crescent Ave. While on 20th Ave. keep going until the end when you hit water and a bike path. Turn left and run along the water until you reach Astoria Park South. Turn left on Astoria Park South and head back to Crescent Ave. where you will make a right and return to the start.
A worthwhile detour that will keep things fresh during a long run. Instead of turning back down Crescent St. on the way back to the start, keep heading west on 20th Ave. to the shore and run south along the shore. Connect with Crescent St. via Astoria Park South. Bathrooms and fountains are available on the south side of the park near 18th St., if necessary.
3. Extend your run over the Queensboro Bridge (an extra 1.4 miles each way or just shy of an 18-miler round-trip). If you are starting in Manhattan, or are lust looking for a longer run that includes Citi Field, start and end on the Manhattan side of the Queensboro Bridge near 60th and 1st Ave.
Running back over the Queensboro Bridge is a great add-on to your run, especially if you are training for the New York Marathon. This works best if you do the 15 mile version of this long run because the Queensboro Bridge is basically mile 16 of the actual marathon course.
This is a 15-mile route that can morph into a 17-(with the Unisphere), 18-(with the Unisphere and the Astoria Park add-ons), or 21-mile (with the Unisphere, Astoria Park, and Queensboro Bridge add-ons) outing.
Slightly challenging with variation from 0 to 69 feet (yes, only 69 feet, even with the Queensboro Bridge!) with really no sharp inclines.
0 hills for a ratio of 0.0 for the 15-mile variation. If you include the Queensboro Bridge, add one hill for a 0.05 ratio.
0.30. There are quite a few smokers loitering out there on the streets of Astoria.
60%. We spend a fair amount of time near Grand Central Parkway/I-278.
Safe after dark?
Yes and no. All parts of this run that occur in Astoria are probably safe in terms of traffic and crime during the day and up to 10pm at night. The sections along the World’s Fair Marina and in the Citi Field parking lot are probably questionable regarding personal safety because these locations are so secluded. Those sections should only be run with a buddy if you really need to run this route late at night.
This course runs through residential and public recreational paths. Not much of a crowd problem unless you run along the East River near Astoria Park on a nice spring/summer night, in which case prepare to deal with crowds aplenty.
Sidewalk and asphalt.
There are a few nice bars on the Queens side of the Queensboro Bridge where you can duck into and probably use their bathrooms if you ask nicely.
On the Citi Field side, you can go to the public bathrooms near the US Tennis Center or use the Dunkin Donuts bathroom that backs onto the World’s Fair Marina boardwalk from Grand Central Parkway about a tenth of a mile south of the pedestrian bridge.
If you pass Astoria Park during normal business hours, there is a community center with bathrooms and a nice fountain near the intersection of Astoria Park South and 18th St.
Points of Interest:
When you run this route, here’s what you have in store for yourself:
- the marathon-famous Queensboro Bridge
- the massive ConEd Yard in Astoria
- the road to soon-to-be-condos Rikers Island
- New York’s other airport, La Guardia Airport
- the unfairly neglected World’s Fair Marina Promenade
- the home of the marvelous New York Mets, Citi Field
- (if you do the add-ons) the recently renovated U.S. Tennis Center, home of the U.S. Open
- the Unisphere of Iron Man II fame
- the greenest part of Astoria that doesn’t include gravestones, Astoria Park
- the East River along the park
Good for Groups:
Narrow sidewalks make this ideal for 2 up to 4 runners.
Safe from Cars:
This route moves along low volume streets for the most part which are well-insulated from traffic. I’d be concerned for the most part at the crossings around the Triboro Bridge and when crossing over the Grand Central Parkway on the way to the airport.
Prospects for a Break-Free Run:
You’ll find about seven break points each way along this run. 39th Ave, 36th Ave, Broadway, 30th Ave., Hoyt Ave North, and Ditmars (twice). However, on a weekend morning, I found that only about three of these crossings were problematic.
Friends Run Into During Run:
2 (but I brought them with)
Is there a route you’ve always wanted to run, but wanted someone else to run it first in case of hidden axe murderers or marauding street cat gangs? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try to cover it! Or is there any other route criteria you’d like me to cover? If so, drop me a comment below.
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