Sunday 22 April 2012

New York - USA

I wasn't sure what to expect with New York. All you hear from people who have been is "Oh my god it's amazing!" but I have always been someone who likes to make my own opinions. And I have to say... It is pretty damn cool!

Now to live here must be an absolute nightmare, but as a tourist there are few better places. You may not have the guaranteed hot weather as you do in some other cities, the traffic is a horrendous and everywhere you go it is super busy, but what major city isn't.

What you do have though is landmark after landmark of epic proportions which make you forget about all of that.
The one thing I quickly realised, much like London, is that running on the roads here would not be a good idea. I was staying in Clinton on 10th Avenue, mainly because it was like a!

The good thing about it my location is that I was only one mile south from Central Park, so I headed set off from my hotel north along 10th Avenue up to west 57th Street across to 8th Avenue and then exited the park through the south entrance.
Central Park offers glimpses of its iconic skyline throughout Central Park

I was struck by just quite how big it was. Whenever I had seen it on TV or in books and magazines, it always appeared quite small but once you are there you realise that it is just the size of the surrounding buildings that dwarf it in pictures, because in real life it is huge!

I also don't think I have ever seen so many runners, skaters and cyclists in one place. After looking at one of the signs, I noted it was approx 3.1miles from end to end so I navigated my way east to head north along the Central Drive and then the Central Loop.

It dawned on me later that this was lucky, because I soon realised that everybody else I saw was running in the same direction (anticlockwise) and I therefore avoided looking too much like a tourist!

Now this not just a regular park. To me in England, a park is a bit of grass, a few benches, some swings and a see saw. However Central Park includes a zoo, a reservoir, a theatre, a lake, a wood, baseball fields, a turtle pond and a museum among many others!

It may no longer be the world's tallest or have a huge Gorilla hanging from the top, but it certainly is an experience you have to take in when in New York

Continuing north, the Park offers some stunning views of the surrounding architecture as it slowly reveals itself from through the leaves and branches of the huge trees and foliage.

I was also quite surprised at how undulating the park was, as you expect a city centre to be extremely flat. The park offered lots of variety in terrain and several different 'loops' signposted all of different lengths and difficulties.

The park is also closed to traffic, Monday through Friday from 10AM - 3PM and 7PM - 10PM and also on the weekends starting at 7PM on Friday through 6AM on Monday, so you can relax and take in your surroundings.
Continuing along the Central Loop, which funnily enough loops all the way around the Park so you don't have to worry about getting lost, I reached the Jackie Kennedy Resevoir.

This is one of the most beautiful spots in the city. As you look out over the water, you have the tops of the skyline in the distance framed by the great expanse of green. It almost feels like you are looking at the city through a window.

With the reservoir now to my left, I carried on along the Loop north as the path snakes it was through the trees and past Harlem Meer, another large area of water. I reached the north entrances having run just over 4 miles from my hotel to here and decided to follow the path back around the west side (partly for fear of running head on towards New Yorkers).

The Loop weaves its way south through what seems like 100 baseball fields and a market and back along the west side of the resevior, which once again looks incredible with the city backdrop.

It was a nice clear dry day when I ran through the park, but with smooth sloping concrete pathways I can imagine it gets a bit slippery in the non-Summer months so just beware, especially with so many cyclists on the prowl.
Ground Zero is a fitting memorial for those who were victims of 9/11
Past the resevoir is arguable the Park's most famous feature, the Great Lawn.

A huge oval shaped expanse of grass, it was packed out with people having picnics, playing music, throwing frisbees, and looked like a great place to wind down after stomping all over the city seeing the sites and has also hosted several high profile concerts, including Bob Marley (who apparently collapsed whilst jogging through the park?).

After passing Turtle Pond and then another Lake, at this point it dawned on me that I must be lost. Simply because it felt as though the last 20 minutes of the run had gone: Grass, Tree, Lake, Baseball Field. Grass, Tree, Lake, Baseball Field. Grass Tr....

However I was relieved to see a sign post signalling the direction of south exit which made me realise I was not going mad. A further mile and I had reached the point at which I had entered 6.4 miles previously, and followed my route south back to the hotel.

Unlike some of my other routes, this one doesn't take in any of the major sites. However, you have 6.4 miles of by far the greatest park in the world, a great setting for a run when in New York and something that all runners should experience.

Now for one things Americans do best.....An almighty breakfast!

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Start - 10th Avenue, west 49th Street, Clinton
Journey - North on 10th Ave, west on 57th street to South Park entrance. Follow Central Park Loop for 6.4 miles round outside boundary of the park.
Finish - New York Athletic Club, 7th Avenue, west 58th Street

I'm not sure if these are official Government issued or not, but either way I passed...

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