When I’m on holiday or visiting somewhere I always try to squeeze a run in. I find it’s a good way to explore a new area, to keep active and to provide some welcome relief from the monotony of running the same old roads at home.
Therefore, imagine my delight when I discovered that my trip to New York would coincide with Global Running Day, and that the New York Road Runners (NYRR) were holding an entire day’s worth of activities to mark the occasion.
Included in these events was a series of breakfast runs through Central Park, the first of which set off at 7am. This was perfect. I’m an early riser anyway, so being up and about at that hour was absolutely no hardship with me.
It also gave me the chance to get a little run through Central Park – a must – and to get it out of the way first thing thus giving me the rest of the day free.
Leaving my hotel on W 46th St at 6:30am I had to make my way to the NYRR RunCenter on W 57th St. I had gone for a little recce the night before so I knew where I was going and whilst New York is easy to navigate if you know whereabouts you need to get to it was still a strange city so it was good to be prepared.
Distance wise it was less than a kilometre. It only took me six minutes or so to get there, but over such a short period of time and at such an early hour it was still very pleasing to see a decent amount of runners out and about.
Arriving at the Hub early, I had to hang around outside until they opened. There were only a few others at that point but numbers soon picked up and, eventually, I think around 35-40 gathered. That was a relief because I did worry that I’d be amongst a bunch of super fit speedy runners, but all ages and abilities were represented.
Once the doors opened we filed in, registered and received a special NYRR Global Running Day buff. That was a lovely touch, and I look forward to sporting it during the winter months.
The Hub is not only a running shop – although that part wasn’t open this early – but also includes lockers etc. and a bit of running memorabilia, amongst them a little display of Abbott World Marathon Major medals. I was delighted to see that their London Marathon medal was from 2017, one of my years running it. It might seem silly but that really did make me smile.
After a brief introduction and safety drill from the run leaders we walked the short distance to Columbus Circle to stop for a group pic and then to start our 30 minute run into Central Park.
It was basically a case of running for 15 minutes, turning, and then coming back again. I don’t have a clue about Central Park, but looking at my Strava afterwards it seems we ran along West Drive, past Greyshot Arch, skirted along the edge of Strawberry Fields and deeper into the park until I got as far as 81st St … others in the group would have gone further but because I was here as a tourist I stopped every so often to take a pic.
I ran the first 15 minutes alone but, as I turned (and took another picture), I was joined by a lovely woman, Vivian, who had been running behind me.
She introduced herself by asking about my shirt. I was wearing my Ballymena Runners top, and the name piqued her interest. It turns out she had been researching her Irish family history, there were Bailie/Bailey’s amongst her ancestry and she wondered if there was any connection given the similarities.
We ran back to Colombus Circle together. It was nice to have a chat along the way and to get to know a bona fide New Yorker. She’s also visiting Ireland later this year, so we exchanged details so that I can help with her planning and also a point of contact for me whilst I was still in Manhattan if needed.
When we arrived back at the RunCenter they had arranged for a local company to feed us with some miniature doughnuts – and they were delicious. It’s amazing how many I could fit on one hand!!!
All in all, it was a fantastic experience. The chance to run through Central Park, to run with NYRR, to meet and chat with Vivian … it’s things like this that keep me going when I become disillusioned with running. If I didn’t run, I wouldn’t have these opportunities or memories.