When I first ran along the Upper West Side waterfront trail, from 72nd st. north, I was amazed and not a little jealous. Down in the 70’s there were not one, but two cafes, specializing in happy hour and burgers. People sat happily under multi-colored umbrellas, facing a quite picturesque marina, and eating food fresh off the grill. Nearby, others were lining up to rent kayaks. Running along my East River trail gives me the illusion of a waterfront outing. Here, it seemed, it was no illusion.
The feeling of leaving the city behind gets even stronger the further north you run. The trail continues up past 125th st towards the GW bridge, and even beyond into Inwood and Washington heights. Up there the view across the river has changed from condominiums to wild cliffs, and the smell of the sea is stronger and more appropriate. Last winter there was even a whale that ventured into this section of the river, before it was enthusiastically escorted out.
Today, wanting a flat run, and tired of the East River, I headed west. The UWS is less than 3 miles as the crow flies from the UES, but, in the minds of NYers, one might think you actually needed a covered wagon. This perception is due to the lack of efficient public transportation that cuts across the north part of the city. There are no subway lines that cross town above midtown, and the buses snake through slow Central Park transverses.
It always amazes me then how, when running, it feels so close. I run, as usual, to the 72nd and 5th ave. park entrance and cut across the transverse. But then, instead of looping through the park, I run straight out and into new, although not quite uncharted, territory. As soon as I cross CPW, it feels like different land: the sidewalks are a little wider, the other pedestrians more accommodating as I weave through them. Before I know it, I am facing Riverside park and the Hudson river.
Today I only ran up to 100th. st. and then headed back down, to cross the park through 86th st (on a very snowy bridle path) and stop at Jackrabbit for new shoes. But it felt freeing to know, had time and my knee permitted, that it would only have taken 30 min. more, and my own two feet, to leave the NY hustle and bustle completely behind.
My picture is of some west side houses, just a few blocks from the river. Below is a snap of Riverside park, for comparison with my East River trail, which, don’t get me wrong, I still love dearly.
(6.5 miles, no idea of the pace and didn’t care)