Running in Harlem

photo(10)I have never been much of a morning person. My family can attest to my “zombie-like” state when I used to get up early for school. I’d often stay under the covers for a few extra minutes. I was also never much of a solo runner.
However, I was very involved in diverse sports. I started playing field hockey at a Dutch mixed field hockey club when I was 7 (it’s a popular sport among both men and women!), danced ballet, enjoyed and competed in horseback riding, took ice skating lessons, and much more. When you’re younger you have endless energy devoted into many hobbies, which is still possible as you get older with good time management.

What does this have to do with travel?
I recently started running in the morning in preparation for two 5K races this summer. Even though it’s been a few days since I started the new routine, I’ve come to realize that running in the early hours is a very serene experience. It’s wonderful that in a city that’s always bustling and noisy, that around 6:45 AM all you hear are a few birds chirping and cars passing by.

Running gives you a great opportunity to combine a workout with the added bonus of exploring a city. By running, you see neighborhoods, parks, and other areas of a city that you might not otherwise get the chance to go to. If running is not your cup of tea, jump on a bike or see where a walk takes you.

Marcus Garvey

IMG_2149One of my favorite parks is right in my neighborhood of Harlem – the Marcus Garvey Park. The park gets its name from renowned publisher, journalist and black nationalist Marcus Garvey who founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL). Locals still also refer to it by its original name of Mount Morris Park.

Marcus Garvey Park is one of the oldest public squares in Manhattan. Central to the life of Harlem for more than 150 years, it has served as a meeting place for neighbors, a front yard and play area for schoolchildren, and a holy place for members of local churches,” according to

You can certainly feel that sense of community as you run around with kids playing on various playgrounds, adults enjoying a basketball game or simply walking their dogs, playing baseball, and picnicking. As you’re running nearby, it is noticeably hilly, and I’ve learned the Dutch used called this neighboring hill “Gebergte (Round Hills) and the mount itself as Slangberg (Snake Hill) in honor of that now-extinct reptile population,” says.
Park Features
photo(11)The tree-lined park is one of the first Harlem neighborhoods “to be developed following the introduction of elevated rail service in the 1880s,” and houses “some of the area’s grandest brownstones,” as the website notes. The Harlem branch of the New York Public Library and one of few black convents in the U.S. – The Handmaids of Mary Convent – is nearby, too.
Attractions such as the amphitheater (with seating for 1,600 that’s hosted Aretha Franklin & Quincy Jones), and the pool (which opens 4th of July weekend again) are sure to bring in more visitors. I know I’ll be running by and taking in a little piece of the community spirit and history each time.
Where are your favorite parks or outdoor areas? Do you enjoy exploring through exercise, too?

3 thoughts on “Running in Harlem

  1. I work in Wellesley, MA and right near my office are two wonderful trails. Known for its beautiful homes, The Brook Path gives you a your while also giving you a great trail following a brook and lined with old trees. The other treasure is Wellesley College right down the street. The campus has many great trails including a path around Lake Waban. Very blessed to have these great walking trails steps from my office. Sweet!

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