07 August 2006

The Road Less (Randomly) Traveled

Today, like most Mondays, is an off day for me. But given how much I enjoyed yesterday's long run from the Coney Island boardwalk to the Pulaski Bridge in Greenpoint, I've been thinking about other long runs with that would have a specific purpose (other than simply filling in streets on the map). Brooklyn offers any number of possibilities like this, and I've compiled the following short list of potential runs that fit the bill. I'd also like to solicit suggestions for others from you, the blog-reading public. If you have ideas, just drop me an email or leave a comment. I'm open to almost anything, as long as it's physically realistic (i.e. under 15 or so miles in length) and wouldn't require me to bring along a big map or anything while I run. Here's what I've come up with thus far:

1) Atlantic Avenue, from the border with Queens in East New York to its terminus at Brooklyn Bridge Park. As far as I can tell so far, Atlantic is the only street stretching continuously from one end of the borough to another. Approximate distance: 7+ miles.

2) The Queens/Brooklyn border. Last week I ran some of this boundary (between Bushwick and Ridgewood), but there's the stretch from Cypress Hills down through East New York, from Cypress Hills Cemetery to Old Mill Creek down near the Gateway Center Mall. Approximate distance: 7.5 miles

3) Following the elevated portions of various subway lines.

4) Traversing all three East River bridges between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Approximate distance: at least 8 miles, depending on the route.

5) The length of Kings Highway, from its intersection with Eastern Parkway in Brownsville to where it meets up with Bay Parkway in Bensonhurst. Approximate distance: 6.7 miles

These are just the results of a few minutes of map-gazing. If anyone has other suggestions, let me know! Meanwhile, here are a couple more pictures from yesterday's run (the picture up top is from Lorimer Street in Williamsburg):

Coney Island Avenue, Sheepshead Bay

Memorial for cyclist Liz Byrne, who was killed last fall (corner of Kent and McGuinness in Greenpoint)


At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Flatbush Avenue from Manhattan Bridge to Marine Parkway Bridge.

One end of Brokklyn to another

At 4:27 PM, Blogger Gary said...

All of Flatbush Avenue -- what a great idea! I should've seen that on the map. If I took the 2 to the Brooklyn College stop (which is probably the closest to the Marine Parkway bridge), then run down to the middle of the bridge, turn around and run back to the middle of the Manhattan Bridge, it looks like it'd be 16-17 miles. Long, but definitely doable (though I'd probably wait a month or two until the weather's a little cooler).

At 6:52 AM, Anonymous Michael said...

I have run from Grand Army Plaza, thru Prospect Park, down Ocean Pky, made a right at the Board walk, another right by the Parachute jump, then a left on shore road, past Khols (of what ever store is where Korvett's used to be), followed the Belt Pky bike path to the end, found 2nd Ave, took 2nd Ave (thru some amazing old industry). made a right at the Prison, then ran around Green-Wood and back to Prospect Park.

A long day

At 2:52 PM, Blogger christina piluso said...

do you worry about safety issues when talking about running through places like east ny?
(i feel like such a pansy/snob writing this, but still want to know)

At 6:33 PM, Blogger Gary said...

Christina -- sure, I worry about safety in some of the rougher neighborhoods. But not too much. I mean, most street crime is either drug-related or a "crime of opportunity," and since I'm neither buying drugs nor wearing jewelry or an iPod or whatever, there wouldn't be much reason for anyone to give me a hard time. I guess someone somewhere might want to take my camera, but I'd gladly hand it over -- I deliberately bought a cheap camera since I figured something would happen to it along the way anyway (whether through theft or sweating on it or, most likely, me simply dropping it).

That said, I definitely try to stay alert, and I always run pretty early in the morning, when even in the "worst" neighborhoods, most folks are simply heading off to work.

I was reading recently about a woman who walked every street in Minneapolis, and her strategy was to hit the sketchier areas when it was raining or when it was really cold. I think that's pretty clever as well, and I'll probably be running more of these places in the winter.

At 6:38 PM, Blogger Gary said...


Geez, that's got to be close to 20 miles! You're not kidding about a "long day"...

At 9:50 AM, Blogger christina piluso said...

thanks for your thoughts on safety. being a female runner, i wonder if i should be even more cautious of where i run. (or less) however... i think i have 2 things going for me when i'm running to prevent anyone from messing with me. 1. i am sweaty and probably too slippery for them to grab me 2. i smell bad. haha!

your site's really inspiring. i'm training for my first marathon. it's tough stuff.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Gary said...


I'm completely with you concerning the sweaty/smelly thing (you should've seen me last last week during the warm weather!). I don't know why anyone would want to mess with me...

But I also have no idea what it's like to be a woman runner in the city, especially if you're running alone. Being a guy is one of those things I take for granted, I suppose, but several women have pointed out that are some significant gender-specific differences when it comes to running and similar activities, and that these are only exacerbated in less desirable neighborhoods.

Regardless, good luck on the marathon! I've done a few, so I know what the training's like (especially those long runs). Which one are you doing?

At 2:09 PM, Blogger christina piluso said...

I'm training for the NY marathon, it should be very exciting, but it's daunting. I definitely dont have my head wrapped around the long runs... I usually mentally freak myself out long before my body is tired. So that's the latest challenge.

Running in NY is an interesting experience, I get heckled occasionally, or made fun of - I never have the energy for a witty comeback, so usually end up just grunting at them. Today I got the pleasure of seeing a woman peeing on Flatbush Ave between the Botanical Gardens and Prospect Park. Never thought I'd see that.

At 3:32 AM, Blogger Shawn said...

I have been lost in the upper reaches of Harlem in the winter and the summer (both times trying to find the same elusive soul food buffet), and I have to say that the winter was much scarier, simply because there were so few people on the streets. I don't know about Brooklyn, but even in a bad neighborhood, I feel like somebody wouldn't mess with you if there were other people around. It's the same thing I think when I'm on the subway late at night - I either want to be the only person in the subway car, or one of 3 or more people. Since it's almost never going to be you alone on the street, I'd hope for more people and do the worse parts in the summer when the streets are busier. But then again, I'm not outside at 8am much.

At 2:01 PM, Blogger Gary said...


Your theory about safety runs against the way I've been thinking about things, but certainly makes sense.

Usually, though, there are a lot of people out early in the morning, regardless of the time of year. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s I was a technician for the phone company in New Jersey, and often worked in places like Elizabeth, Linden, and Roselle.

One of the things I learned early on is that even in the "worst" areas the vast majority of people are regular working people, and that a small handful of gang members and drug dealers are responsible for most of the crime. And, I discovered, the criminal element usually keeps late hours, meaning that the during the morning, especially, these neighborhoods were as safe as any other.

As others have pointed out things can be very different for women, but I never had a problem. Hope I can continue that here in Brooklyn!

What you say makes sense, though. And did you ever find the buffet?

At 2:16 PM, Blogger Shawn said...

I finally found it the second time - http://gonyc.about.com/cs/atozindex/gr/charles.htm - and it was worth it. Yeah, I agree that morning would be the best time for the bad neighborhoods. I've been walking with like $2,000 worth of electronics - camera, iPod, cell phone - plus my wallet. If I walk late at night or way up north in Harlem, I should probably reconsider that.

At 6:50 PM, Anonymous stephanie said...

One idea for a run is taking Bedford all the way from Greenpoint to Sheepshead Bay -- it's the longest street in the borough! (and you get a good cross section of neighborhoods on this route) Also, if you have any interest in food, and think you can eat after a long run, the food stands at the Red Hook soccer fields are a favorite running destination for me (weekends only, delicious cheapo Latin food). You can take the G bag by walking to Smith-9th, or if you are curious about bus routes, take the B61 all the way back. The NYC marathon route starts in Bay Ridge and goes up 4th Ave -- you could tryy that. Though obviously you will have to run it someday so you can get the BK side of the Verrazano under your belt!

Re: safety, thus far Brooklyn has proven to be a very safe place to run, at least in my experience. I run at night, in not so populated places, and at night in not so populated places all the time, and knock on wood have never had an incident. Though I am always very aware of my surroundings, where open stores/bars/bank lobbies are, etc. I run across the WB bridge late at night all the time (past midnight, there are still plenty of people out inthe summer, though I agree it feels less safe in the winter when no one is out on the streets).

At 2:43 PM, Blogger Gary said...


Thanks for the Bedford suggestion -- another great idea (and another one I missed when looking for these things). I'm really looking forward to running in Red Hook, but I've been kind of putting it off. Since the G runs right down to Smith/9th, that's something I can do easily in the colder weather, when I most likely won't want to go as far from home... But I've seen the food stuff written up on some of the blogs, and while my running and my stomach are often at odds, I wouldn't mind checking out soccer field food one of these weekends.

And thanks for the thoughts on safety. It's turned out to be a pretty big topic, and I admit I hadn't thought about it too much. Quite a few people say things like, "yeah the running every street thing sounds cool, but wait until you hit Brownsville (or East New York, or Crown Heights, or even Bed-Stuy)." So far, so good, though. I think I'll be alright.

And, as I've noted elsewhere, I think I'm more worried about getting hit by a livery car going 60 on a residential street than I am about being a victim of street crime...


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