Favorite Places That You've Run?

#1
I came across a listicle the other day of world's strangest tracks, which got me to thinking of some of the cooler places I have ran.

I was curious if anyone else has a list of favorites or standout oddballs?

Indoor Track: NYC Armory
I have separated things into categories but if I had to choose just one, the Armory is king. This place is electric. Even sleepy small conference meets feel big here. This is probably due to the fact that the track barely fits into the available space, so much of the spectators (and athletes and everyone else milling around) are forced up on to the balcony level seats. You get a lot of crowd noise on the track, even if its just your teammates, because they're shouting down at you. I've run on other banked tracks before but this one feels faster because, again, the walls are tight and you're really crammed into this space.

Outdoor Track: UPenn Franklin Field
Franklin Field towers over any other outdoor track experience I have ever had. I suspect that running at Penn Relays is about as close as I will ever feel to a professional athlete. They have this quiet little staging area, just outside of the stadium, where you can wait and warm-up before your heat. Slowly they begin to herd you towards these gates and then BAM you are on the track in the middle of a massive stadium. I ran an enormous ~1.5 second PR as the opening leg in the 4x400m and I felt like I was flying the entire time. This event crowd was also artificially packed to the gills because there are so many competitors at the relays.

Road Course: NYC Marathon
My tri-state bias is showing strongly here... I have only run a few marathons. I thought Chicago was somewhat boring, but punctuated with one or two standout moments (the crowd at Chinatown were amazing). Tokyo was interesting from buzzer to buzzer because of how literally foreign it was for me, but that also worked against it because I had no personal connection. I know NYC. On race day I remember taking the shuttle from Bryant Park in midtown over to Staten Island. On the bridge over I looked back at Manhattan skyline and thought "We are going to run all the way there...?" and then I remembered that we were in fact going to have to run past there and back (the course goes uptown and then buttonhooks back to Central Park). The course starts with a cannon blast and news helicopters strafing the bridge and subsequently each of the five boroughs brings its own flavor. You are met with a mile of near deafening silence at mile 15 when crossing the bridge (no spectators) only to be smacked with a complete roar from the crowd when you touch back on land in Manhattan. Finishing up in Central Park feels completely surreal as the park itself is its own sort of natural oasis within the city. I am in no rush to do so, but I really hope to run this one again some day.

I wish I had a good option for a miscellaneous category. I always want to run while I am on vacation (but never end up doing so), which I think could make for some good running memories. I thought it would be a really interesting challenge to run in some of the Caribbean Islands (insanely steep climbs and insanely beautiful) but my fear of the heat (and mostly my fear of the drivers) coupled with my desire to relax always wins out.
 
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#2
I happen to live where I have easy access to some iconic run routes, from Mesa Trail to Magnolia Road. I am probably a heretic in that I find Mags overrated: too much traffic. In your world, @imnothammer, it would be the Times Square of local run routes. I much prefer Gold Hill or Rollinsville and I can remember counting the number of other runners encountered on those routes on a summer Sunday morning on one hand or less. Mesa Trail out-and-back could be a nice summer challenge at this point, glad this thread helped plant that seed! These all dim compared with any run I have done on the Colorado Trail. Another that really stands out for me decades later is the Grouse Grind in Vancouver, BC, which I did with a buddy the morning before his wedding. I really like your idea for this thread and I'm sort of skewing your intent here, I think...

Indoor track: no good memories of indoor track, sorry.

Outdoor track: there are actually a couple of great memories I have, though I was not actually racing. One was running Pre's Trail when in Eugene for the 2016 Olympic Trials. It was fun to be there with friends and then try the "was that Leo Manzano? Who is Lauren Fleshman running with?" guessing game. And of course getting to see races from the old wooden grandstand at OG Hayward was really special.

The other was a prefectural sports park in my wife's hometown when we were there in 2018. While visiting her mom and sister, we did a couple runs to the park over a wooded hill and then on the overlapping tartan/asphalt jogging loops that wound their way around the main soccer/track stadium (where we also took in a V-Varen match one evening), a warmup/schools track, and swimming pool. I found it a really impressive facility, it would be wonderful if something like this were built in Denver or most anywhere in the US. We found another good route from near where my other sister-in-law lives in Fukuoka, which took us past lotus ponds (they bloom at dawn) and the stadium where the Fukuoka International Marathon starts and finishes (video link) through the final edition this year and over to Ohori Park (also video link) which has a ~2 km loop around a large pond divided into lanes for running (soft, rubberized surface), walking, and cycling and with markers every 100m along the way. We paused to pay respects at the nearby Gokoku Shrine on one of our runs and climbed over the Fukuoka Castle ruins.

Road course: It may be cliche, and yet even having run it umpteen times I still very much enjoy the BolderBoulder 10K. There is serious racing if you show up ready, there is also great fun along the way if you want to do it more casually with friends. At least one year I did it both ways, the route loops so that the start and finish are about 2 miles apart and the wave start takes well over 3 hours. It is still a nice town to run through plus I always bump into people I know in the race, even the first year I did it before I even lived here!

Cross-country course: Golden Gate Park for Club Cross 2015. Fantastic, beautiful setting for racing, great course and really deep competition. I hope to return for the 2022 edition!

 
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#3
I am jealous of you both having such great running routes close by! I was never a track athlete and have only run road races up to this point so my selection of tracks is limited. However, I do travel quite a bit and love to explore places on the run when I do.

My favorite race course I’ve done was the Berlin Marathon. Really nice route through all the different areas of the city. It was always interesting which can’t be said of a lot of road courses. The start and finish in Tiergarten is awesome. Running though the Brandenburg Gate right before the finish was awesome.

As for general running routes, running along the Sydney Harbor, Botanical Gardens, and over the Harbor Bridge is a highlight. Running along the Charles River in Boston is always fun and feels classic.
 
#4
@Andrew A. - I wish I had something comparable to Mesa Trail nearby. Around here it has either been developed into a suburb or it hasn't been touched and it looks like a candidate for the Barkley. We do have a 20+ rail trail (actually converted from a former canal) but it won't be finding its way onto any postcards. I spent two weeks in Japan when I went to run the Tokyo Marathon and I wish I had been able to sneak in more runs, but we were doing plenty of walking sight-seeing. I actually saw that running was prohibited in Yoyogi Park/Meiji Shrine but I would be lying if I said I didn't selfishly think what a cool run that would have made

@PEG glad Berlin was one of your choices. I am still foolishly optimistic that I will finally get to run it later this year... the finish through Brandenburg Gate seems as if it would make you feel pretty heroic. I was fortunate enough to visit Australia some years ago and also didn't do much running but I remember being blown away by how beautiful the harbor/gardens area was.
 
#5
I am jealous of you both having such great running routes close by! I was never a track athlete and have only run road races up to this point so my selection of tracks is limited. However, I do travel quite a bit and love to explore places on the run when I do.

My favorite race course I’ve done was the Berlin Marathon. Really nice route through all the different areas of the city. It was always interesting which can’t be said of a lot of road courses. The start and finish in Tiergarten is awesome. Running though the Brandenburg Gate right before the finish was awesome.

As for general running routes, running along the Sydney Harbor, Botanical Gardens, and over the Harbor Bridge is a highlight. Running along the Charles River in Boston is always fun and feels classic.
Berlin would be a wonderful city to run through!

@imnothammer: I am definitely spoiled and a lot of the local features are predictably getting overwhelmed with crowds on nice weather weekends. The natural beauty is one thing, any sense of solitude is subverted to swarms of people. Just gotta get up early to beat the heat... and the flocks.
 
#6
Having moved a lot as a younger adult I have many favorite sites, but have just lived three places since the late 1990s.

In Fort Collins, CO I liked the Pine Ridge Open Space area on the west side of town, at the base of the foothills/just east of the Horsetooth Reservoir. Had a 5 or 6 mile loop on single track or limestone gravel, and in the past you could extend the run several miles behind the CSU Foothills campus (now closed off, post 9;/11 because of security for the research labs). And I liked to do workouts in the City Park area, where we had a 1K grass loop with a small hill, and then a loop of just under 3 miles that went around the park, community golf course and cemetery.

In Alaska we had endless trails through birch and spruce forests. I loved the Secret Trail, which followed a ridgeline for several miles, connecting to all sorts of trail circuits, including the U-Alaska trail system and Equinox Marathon trails.

I now live outside of Denver and my go to place is Bear Creek Lake Park, about 10 miles SW of downtown. Just a few miles from Red Rocks amphitheater. It's semi-natural with a good 15-20 miles of trails, and another 8-10 of road/paved bike path for weather days. You wouldn't think that you were in a metro area with 3 million people. Also includes a 1.4 mile fitness loop, with rolling terrain and some turns, great for XC training and tempo runs.

There are several decent/good tracks within a 10-15 minute drive. I just drove by the track at Evergreen HS today, and I think it's an open venue much of the time when school events or practices are not going on.
 
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