Friday, August 17, 2012

America's 10 best cities for runners

Last year I did a blog about great cities for running based on a 2004 list I found done by Runner's World. Earlier this year Forbes announced its 10 best cities for runners, and not a lot has changed in the last eight years. Of the Forbes list of 10 cities I've run in only four of them, so there's a lot of running to be done.

Forbes' list is comprised of some of the most vibrant communities in America: San Francisco, New York, Chicago, DC, Minneapolis, Boulder, Boston, Portland, Austin and Atlanta. It proves once again that vibrant communities attract more people including runners. An active culture is part of what attracts people to a community.

I ran my first half marathon in San Francisco, and it's an amazing city. In just a few days there I was able to see a lot of the city - Fisherman's Wharf, shopping in Union Square, the farmers' market at the Ferry Building. And I also ran 13.1 miles through the city (although I was in so much IT band pain the race really is a blur). I would love to go back to San Francisco for another visit - one where my legs aren't in a ton of pain after a race so I can really enjoy walking up and down the cable car hills. 

New York is unlike any city in the United States. There's no way to compare it to anywhere else. It has neighborhood upon neighborhood of shops, restaurants, places to hang out. It has a beautiful built-in place for running in Central Park, and it's,'s New York. There's just nothing that compares.

Chicago is one of my favorite cities I've been to in the U.S. (was my VERY favorite until Portland, Maine dethroned it). It's got miles of running paths, plus it has the beach AND the city. It's pretty much the hat trick of great running cities.

Washington, DC is also one of my favorites. On a 12-mile training run in D.C. in 2010, I was surrounded by runners, bikers and walkers. Running along the Potomac River Trail felt safe, comfortable and familiar. The city is a global powerhouse but also a runner's best friend. 

I've been to Minneapolis, but I haven't run there. As a matter of fact I've barely scratched the surface of what makes Minneapolis so great.  Apparently there are miles and miles of running trails, and for those of us who enjoy running in cold weather, this is a great location for it.

Last year I visited Boston for the first time, and it was fabulous. It was a dense, walkable, vibrant town with history, green space, and some of the best restaurants I've ever frequented. It's home to America's most famous marathon, and for runners, Boston is IT.

In law school I lived an hour from Austin and spent a lot of nights imbibing in clubs on 6th Street in downtown Austin. I wasn't a runner when I lived there, but I can imagine that with Austin's culture is a great town for runners. It's also just a cool city that feels homey and accessible. And weird...but that's part of their thing.

I have not been to Boulder, Portland or Atlanta, but from everything I've heard they are amazing cities in other aspects but also for runners.  There does appear to be a direct connection between cities that are able to attract and retain talent and the same list of the best cities for runners. What about your city? Do you consider it a great city and a great city for runners?


  1. I live in southern Utah, home of the St. George Marathon. The running community is very strong here too which I love.

    I love that the Boston finish line is painted on the road!

  2. Thanks for the comment! I've heard great things about the running communities in Utah. I intend to do a race there at some point! The Boston finish is painted on the road - it's very cool. :)