When I first really got into running and needed to locate a track around Manhattan I felt certain I'd come up empty handed. After all, where is there really enough room to locate a 400m length track in this over populated and dense city of ours? I inquired with people on several message boards and was surprised to find there were actually quite a few. Of course they're all located on the peripherals of our fair island and none are right in my backyard but the choices are good. When I was working on Wall St. I made it a regular habit to change at the NYSC location next door to my office, leave my belongings behind and run over to the track located in East River park. It was a great distance for a warm-up to whatever interval workout lay ahead and made for easy planning. And even when I changed jobs and was located in SoHo that track was still my best bet, again changing at yet another NYSC location near the office, leaving my goods all locked up there, and taking off.
Since then I've been relocated to another office, this time in Dumbo, and while the East River track would still be a viable option I've also converted (mostly) to being a morning runner. That makes for more complicated planning and something I'd prefer to avoid, i.e. lugging all my stuff in a backpack while running to the track. Luckily for me there's another sweet track facility on the West side; one that I've run at from time to time when I needed another option. Riverbank State Park is an easy 5 mile run away and is perched atop a structure overlooking the Hudson River. It's a beautiful park with a spectacular vantage of the city and river and open to the public with generous hours.
I like it not only for the good quality of the track itself but because it's a neighborhood fixture. Last night I ran up for some more cruise intervals and was not surprised to find it completely jam packed. Now it wasn't overcrowded with runners although there were a few others going round and round. It was all about soccer and fans of the soccer players and basketball and hockey and I think there was even some baseball practice going on. And the kiddos... tons of kiddos running around like it was a playground, which essentially it is. It's safe, well lit, has a snack bar and for someone living in the neighborhood, probably a good number of your neighbor friends.
Of course it can get a little hairy when you're trying to stay on pace for a given interval set but I like to think the added obstacle course elements make me a stronger runner. Rogue soccer and footballs coming at my noggin' and in front of me on the track, teenagers making googly eyes at one another in lane 1 and last night even a 5 yr old carrying much too large of a stick chasing his buddy.
Here she is at the right ...a beauty, no?