Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cities with more runners = cool places

I came across a survey from Runner's World ranking the 25 best running cities in America. (The survey is a little dated - from 2004 - but I'd bet it hasn't changed much.) What struck me was not only are these great places to run, but this list is comprised of great places period. This led me to the obvious conclusion that cities considered good cities for running attract runners and others because they're just good places in general.

Just looking at the cities on this list makes my cityphile heart happy. It includes San Francisco at the top followed by San Diego, New York City, Chicago, D.C., Minneapolis, Boulder, Boston, Denver, Portland, Austin, Seattle, Philly, Colorado Springs, Dallas, Anchorage, Raleigh, Salt Lake City, Honolulu, Atlanta, Houston, Phoenix, Madison, Monterey, and Fort Collins, CO. It's like the dream team of fabulous cities in America. 

Central Park, NYC. Ideal for running
These are places that have the "it" factor - people want to live in these kinds of places because they're desirable. There are great downtowns, walkability, green space, the list goes on. And runners love these cities because there are active running clubs, running trails, and challenges in hills, beaches, city streets. I can't believe it's taken me this long to draw this conclusion, but all runners should be fans of creating a sense of place. It coordinates beautifully with running.

State Street, downtown Madison, Wisconsin
I haven't run in all 25 of the cities on this list, but I've done a few - San Fran, Chicago, D.C., and Denver.  San Francisco is an incredible challenge with the hills, but what an amazing city. Chicago has miles and miles of trails along the lake. It's a runner's dream.

Hilly Mason Street in downtown San Francisco
 I ran in D.C. last year when I was training for the Detroit marathon. I did a 12 miler through Arlington, on the trail along the Potomac and around all the monuments. It was majestic. Plus there were runners and bikers EVERYWHERE. The trail was packed. It was inspiring to be surrounded by so many other people dedicated to exercising - whatever their medium.
Eastern Market, downtown Washington, D.C.
 In 2008 I visited Denver for work and went for a run with my boss. Holy altitude. It happened to be about 100 degrees the day we ran, but the altitude was such a surprise. I felt like my lungs were going to explode. I can't wait to run there again.

16th Street mall in downtown Denver
I love visiting these cities for all they offer as places, but also for all the runners I encounter on my own jaunts through these towns.  I've run a paltry few of the cities on this great list. I'll be running in Boston over Labor Day weekend, and it just means I've got a lot of running left to do. 

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