Finding a city’s secret spots can only really happen at human speed. In this series, World Running Guide, we’ll provide information to help you discover your next destination through the eyes (or rather, feet) of a runner.
Every river, stone chapel, park or 18th century house has a story. Some of the nation’s greatest legends and founders rode their horses along your evening route. Some of today’s greatest minds are on their morning commute, crossing the river and walking were America’s earliest patriots once strode. All you have to do is enjoy it one step at a time. Welcome to Boston.
Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, CC-BY-ND
When people think of Boston, there’s one activity most probably associate with the city (besides sightseeing the classic historical landmarks): running. Thanks to the prestigious Boston Marathon and its overall athletic stamina, Massachusetts’ capital is considered by some to be the running capital of the U.S. In terms of the best running cities in the country, it made #3 for Runner’s World and Active.com, #7 in Women’s Health, #9 for Forbes, and is in Outside Magazine’s top 10 for best cities to live in for active families. Surrounded by colorful scenery like the Charles River, the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the 19th century Trinity Church amongst the glass skyscrapers, nothing dull meets a runner’s eye.
Underneath its looks, Boston also has a big heart and an even bigger community. Since the Boston Marathon bombing four years ago, volunteers and locals have continually united to support each other and honor those who were lost. Recently the town celebrated One Boston Day on April 15, where people donated socks to the homeless, split pizzas with first responders, placed daffodils along the marathon course, and other kind acts. So while you’re taking an early morning jog through this landmark-filled city, take the time to look past the forts and chapels and see the people who hold the capital together.
Photo courtesy of Craig Stainfill, CC-BY-SA
While the people are the heart of this city, the landscape isn’t too shabby, either. There are countless ways to see the highlights of what Boston has to offer, but here are just a few routes to ease you into the culture before diving deep with a running club or a race.
The classic trail that seems almost to be a rite of passage for tourists is the Freedom Trail that squeezes some of the most important historical landmarks into a 2.5-mile stretch, like Ben Franklin’s statue or Paul Revere’s house. Another favorite of visitors is the almost 3-mile straightaway along the Charles River Esplanade. You’ll most likely pass the Museum of Science, the Boston University Bridge, and apparently, some flocks of geese.
If you’re uninterested in dodging lots of pedestrians and bikers, try the 7-mile route to Castle Island. Start at the JFK Library, run along Carson Beach, and finish at the island where the dominating feature, the 19th century Fort Independence, is waiting for you.
Photo by Paul Nelson
Much like San Francisco or Manhattan, Boston is another U.S. city filled to the brim with running clubs. Whether you’re in town for the long haul or just want to meet some locals for the weekend, there’s a range of intensity (and fun!) perfect for just about anyone. Oh, and these three are free.
The Somerville Road Runners is based out of the city just 15 minutes from Boston with the same name. Besides being the town’s oldest running club, this group has other perks, one of which being food. Along with a Tuesday night track run, Thursday night run, and a long group run one Saturday a month, SRR also hosts a 5K fun run on Monday nights that ends with dinner. To reward a solid workout, the group meets at the Burren Pub on Elm Street for some veggie pasta and beef stew.
Based out of the Jamaica Plain neighborhood on the southwest side of Boston, the Forest Hills Runners are almost guaranteed to work with your schedule. The group has six weekly runs, including a tempo run on Tuesday nights and a workout bright and early Monday morning at 6 a.m.
If any type of competition or rigorous training stresses you out, then this club was named just for you: The Most Informal Running Club Ever (TMIRCE). The group offers Tuesday track workouts and Saturday morning runs along with a Saturday morning run where you pick a four, six, or seven-mile loop. Following the run is, guess what, a potluck brunch! If free food isn’t an incentive to run, I don’t know what is.
No matter what corner you turn or local you meet, it’s practically guaranteed that Boston will inspire you—on and off the trail.
Love Life 5K/10K
Boston Marathon (of course)
TARC Fall Classic Ultra (about 40 minutes outside of Boston)
The Boston Harbor Islands
Main and lead image: Photo courtesy of NCinDC, CC-BY-ND
McGee Nall is a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia. She was probably eating Nilla wafers and Nutella while writing this.