Manhattan: Summer Streets – Central Park down Park Ave. to the Brooklyn Bridge

Since 2008, New York City has created a great NYC opportunity to run/walk/bike/skate/mambo down a significant length of Park Ave/4th Ave/Lafayette Ave without any car or truck traffic to contend with.

It’s called Summer Streets and I hope the city has the foresight to make this one of the great annual traditions that will endure for many decades to come. This usually happens during the morning hours of the first three Saturdays in August (if you are reading this before 8/19/17, you still have time to join the last Summer Streets of the year!). If you are in NYC during this period, make it a point to take advantage of this awesome opportunity.

I make it a point to take advantage of this fun outing at least once per year. Organizing a group of friends to run the length of the course is a plus. And if you have time to spare, there are usually great attractions to get in line for along Summer Streets. In the past, there have been container swimming pools, art installations in the Park Ave. Tunnel, ziplines, water slides, and more. Also, nowadays, lots of fitness and wellness-related companies setup booths to share their latest wares with you.

The point of this is that if you don’t get out and experience this special event, you miss out on an opportunity to enjoy some of the best things that New York City has to offer: a car-less opportunity to travel down the skyscraper-lined streets, with the best parts of the New York City community all around you. And you will likely travel in a state of continual wonder and awe without having to worry about a two-ton truck bearing down on you unawares.

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Route map in three pieces to provide street name detail.

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Also, here is a better map from the Summer Streets site.

Route Description:

(Run 8/12/17) If you want to run the whole banana, start the route in Central Park on the 72nd Transverse overlooking the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain (made famous in numerous TV shows and films).

Head east on the 72nd St. Transverse until you reach the edge of the park at 5th Ave. Then, continue along 72nd St. until you reach Park Ave.

Make a right on Park Ave. and follow the signs all the way down to Brooklyn Bridge! Pretty simple, right?

Mileage:

5.2 (Central Park to Brooklyn Bridge entrance) to 6.5 (Central Park to Brooklyn via the Brooklyn Bridge) miles

Elevation: 

Basically flat. Varies from 0 to 64 feet.

Hill Ratio:

0 hills for a ratio of 0.00.

CPMR: 

0.00. No cigarette smokers encountered during this run.

%RNPS:

0.0. Amazingly, the entirety of this course from Central Park to the entrance of the Brooklyn Bridge does not bring you to within a half mile of either of Manhattan’s two freeways.

Safe after dark?

I’d say this route is very safe to run during the event hours and very safe during daylight hours and pretty safe up until midnight most other times just because it is in Manhattan.

Crowd Scene?

Serious runners will usually try to run the course starting at 7am when it opens. In past years, it becomes a runner’s nightmare after 9am when all the tourists, walkers, and recreational bikers make it out.

Running Surface:

Concrete and asphalt.

Changing Station?

There a whole host of options for changing all along this route. In Central Park there are bathrooms under the Bethesda Terrace on the south side, then you have a few hotels you can sneak into to use their typically clean bathrooms along the route like the Grand Millenium at Grand Central Terminal, the Whole Foods bathroom on 14th, the changing rooms at REI on Houston, or the Millenium Hilton Downtown bathrooms on the third floor.

Points of Interest:

Along the way, you’ll be treated to great views of Park Ave. from the Upper East Side through midtown and the MetLife Building (formerly the PanAm Building), the MetLife Tower, the Union Square Metronome, Chinatown, the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse (of Law and Order fame), City Hall, and the Brooklyn Bridge among many other historic sites.

Good for Groups:

Great for group runs of up to 8-15. Most of the course is on wide streets that are typically clear early in the morning. It becomes far less manageable for large groups starting at 9am to the 1pm closing.

Safe from Cars:

Yes, a million times yes! No cars on Park Ave. and the cross traffic is managed well by volunteers and cops who strive to keep you safe during your journey.

Prospects for a Break-Free Run: 

The major break points will take place at the major intersections: 59th, 42nd, 34th, 23rd, 14th, Houston, Spring, Canal. But they will be enjoyable as they will give you a chance to pause and really drink in the experience.

Friends Run Into During Run:

Three! However, they were all running with me. But one of my running partners ran into at least two others that he knew.

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.

© 2017 Danilo Torres. All rights reserved.

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Manhattan: Central Park Loop

So, weary running traveller, you ask about the loop of the park that is central. Many have whispered about its power, beauty, and angry bikers. I am here to tell you, it is all true…and so much more than you could have imagined. For native New Yorkers, this is probably old hat (that’s the saying, right?), for out-of-towners, I have to say this is probably the best running route in New York City.

This particular review is being written from the point of view of a participant in one of the annual NYRR races (the 2015 Scotland Run 10k).  Despite the crowds, it is still a pleasant run on any given day that ice is not on the ground and my notes below reflect conditions both with and without a race happening.

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Click on map to enlarge.

Route Description:

(Run 4/4/15) Today’s start was at 62nd St. on West Dr. and we ran in a clockwise direction around the park.  For the race, we do a little overlap to get to the 10k.  On a normal day, one would normally end where you started.

Mileage:

6.21 miles for the race; most other days, it’s just a shade over 6 miles. However, there are several variations you can employ vary the mileage in the park. There is also a 1.67 mile, 4 mile, and 5 mile variant to choose from. Here is a helpful map to review. And here is another helpful set of maps.

Elevation: 

You betcha!

Rolling hills abound in Central Park.  I count 10 distinct rises of at least 50 feet or greater in Central Park.  Now, 50-80 foot climbs don’t sound too intimidating on paper, but when you are trying to run them in a race, it becomes significantly more challenging.  Unless, you are a Kenyan elite runner.

In 2011, the Kenyan winner of the UAE Healthy Kidney 10k was queried about how he handled the hills in Central Park, replied with, “What hills?”

Hill Ratio:

10 hills for a ratio of 1.61.

CPMR: 

0.  No smoking is allowed in New York City Parks.

Safe after dark?

I’d say Central Park is safe until about 10pm. It is open until 1am daily and despite the great strides New York has made in lowering its crime rate, it clears out around 10pm and there are some dark nooks around the park that would not be safe for individual runners.

Crowd Scene?

The NYRR races in Central Park can get crowded, especially if you get placed in a slower corral.  On normal days, there are enough runners to keep you motivated, but not so many that you have to fight during your run.

Running Surface:

Asphalt.

Changing Station?

Bathrooms abound in the Park and for many after-work runners, you can change at The New York Running Company at Columbus Circle which stays open until 9pm most weeknights. Lots of great running groups meet there also on various nights too.  If you are in town for a few days and want to get a run in with a group, check out this link.

Points of Interest:

Running around Central Park, you’ll get to see Tavern on the Green, The Lake, The Harlem Meer, The Resevoir (made famous in the great move, Marathon Man), and The Boathouse.

Good for Groups:

Great for group runs.  But you’ll still need to do your best to keep the group to two across on your run to allow for other groups and bikers to cross your path.

Safe from Cars:

Very safe on weekends (no cars allowed on weekends). Or after 7pm and before 7am, on weekdays (in other words, cars are allowed in the Park between 7am and 7pm).

Friends Run Into During Run:

1 (QT)

© 2015 Danilo Torres. All rights reserved.